Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol

What are the difference forms of CoQ10?

People have been taking CoQ10 supplements to improve their heart health for more than 30 years, but very few probably realize that Coenzyme Q10 supplements are commercially available in two forms: Ubiquinone, the fully oxidized form of CoQ10, and Ubiquinol, the fully reduced form of CoQ10. The difference between Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol can be confusing, and consumers often wonder how much of each supplement they should take. Both Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol play important roles in the body’s production of cellular energy, but an important distinction is that Ubiquinone must be converted to Ubiquinol in order to become an antioxidant. Ubiquinol, the reduced, active antioxidant form of CoQ10, also plays an essential – but different - role in the cellular energy production process. Without the presence of both Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol in the body’s cells, they can’t generate or sustain cellular energy.

How are Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol different?

Although CoQ10 supplements have been available for decades, they were only available in the fully oxidized or “spent” form of Ubiquinone. The Ubiquinol form wasn’t available commercially until just a few years ago because it was difficult to stabilize outside the body. Here’s the biggest difference: In order to use Ubiquinone, your body has to first convert it to Ubiquinol, which means your body has to do more work before it can send Ubiquinol off to your organs and cells to do its thing. As we get older, our become less able to convert Ubiquinone to Ubiquinol. The body of a healthy 20-year-old naturally produces all the Ubiquinone it needs and easily converts it to Ubiquinol. In fact, more than 95 percent of the Ubiquinone in a healthy individual’s body is converted to Ubiquinol. No sweat, right?

Not so fast. As we age, our bodies become less efficient at making that conversion, so the ratio of Ubiquinone to Ubiquinol may be off. Even as early as age 30 (and definitely by age 40), the body becomes less able to convert Ubiquinone for use by the body. Other factors can also affect the body’s ability to transform Ubiquinone, such as some medical conditions or certain medications. Even assuming your body is producing all the Ubiquinone it needs, it may not be able to convert it efficiently to Ubiquinol. The best way to improve that ratio as you age is to take a supplement. If you’re already taking a traditional CoQ10 supplement (Ubiquinone), it may not be doing you as much good as you think, since your body struggles to convert Ubiquinone to Ubiquinol as you age. You might want to rethink your CoQ10 supplement and switch to one that is already in the reduced, active state of CoQ10 - Ubiquinol.

For decades, Ubiquinol wasn’t available as a supplement because Ubiquinol easily oxidized outside of the body, and no one could figure out how to stabilize it for use in supplements. It wasn’t until Kaneka Nutrients developed a way to stabilize Ubiquinol in 2006 that it became commercially available in supplement form. 

What have studies taught us about Ubiquinol?

According to several studies conducted over the past few years, Ubiquinol – the reduced form of CoQ10 – is more effective at slowing down the aging process than Ubiquinone, which is the oxidized form of CoQ10. In 2010, researchers at the Christian-Albrechts University of Kiel in Germany gave middle-aged mice supplements of Ubiquinol and Ubiquinone for either six or 14 months. Researchers found that Ubiquinol had “a stronger impact on gene expression” than Ubiquinone, primarily because Ubiquinol had better “bioavailability” – meaning Ubiquinol was more available to the body and more easily used by the target tissue after being introduced to the system. The study also found that Ubiquinol was more effective than Ubiquinone at increasing levels of CoQ10 in the mice’s livers. Researchers also reported the liver, kidneys, heart and brain were the “main target tissue of CoQ(10) intervention.”

Another study by Dr. Peter Langsjoen in 2008 found Ubiquinol was much more effective at increasing CoQ10 levels in blood than Ubiquinone. Patients who had been diagnosed with advanced congestive heart failure were given Ubiquinone every day. The level of CoQ10 in their blood was tested and found to be “subtherapeautic.” The patients were then switched to the same daily dosage of Ubiquinol, and follow-up testing found that their CoQ10 blood levels had increased 55 percent, and in some cases had more than doubled. Langsjoen also found patients’ heart ventricles were more able to pump blood than before taking Ubiquinol.

Anyone older than the age of 30 should consider switching from Ubiquinone (CoQ10) supplements to the Ubiquinol form of a CoQ10 supplement. Ubiquinol is often labeled as “CoQ10 Ubiquinol” and is usually stocked on the same shelf or in the same area as conventional (Ubiquinone) CoQ10 supplements. To avoid confusion, check the supplement facts label on the bottle for “Ubiquinol (Kaneka QH®).” Authentic Ubiquinol products include the Kaneka QH logo, so you can be certain you are buying the active form of CoQ10 rather than Ubiquinone.

Ron Martin

Director of Marketing

Ron Martin is the Director of Marketing at Kaneka Ubiquinol. Ron’s dedication to lifelong learning and belief that “one cannot know too much” inspired a decades-long career centered around educating the public about health.

This article is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as or substituted for medical advice.  Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health care provider with any questions about your health or a medical condition.  Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice because of something you have read on the internet.