Pills and capsules in a person's open palm with a pile of empty pill blister packs out of focus in the background.

Every day we are being bombarded with supplement suggestions. So much so that those little pill boxes that hold a week’s worth of medication and vitamins just aren’t big enough anymore. There is one, however, that should be squeezed into the daily regimen for everyone over 40 and especially those taking a statin.

You may have heard of CoQ10 and are aware that it is beneficial for heart health. But the benefits go far beyond simply protecting your heart. And there are different forms available — some better than others. So, let’s dive in and take a closer look.

What is CoQ10?

CoQ10 is a strong antioxidant made by the body. It is a part of every cell and its function is to support the production of ATP in the mitochondria. You may remember from Biology class that the mitochondria are the energy sources or “powerhouses” of our cells. In addition to being made in the body, we can source some through foods such as meat, fish, shellfish, and to a lesser degree, eggs and vegetables.1 In our bodies, CoQ10 is found both in the inactive form ubiquinone and the active form, Ubiquinol. The active form means that the body can use it immediately without further conversion. When choosing a CoQ10 supplement, doesn’t it make sense to be sure that you are purchasing the active form?

How Do I Know What To Choose?

The supplement aisles can be overwhelming. As mentioned, CoQ10 has more than one form and there are products on the market that contain either the active form or the inactive form. When the bottle says “CoQ10” on the front, be sure to check out the Supplement Facts on the side. It may say “CoQ10” as “Ubiquinone” or “Ubidecarenone.” When taken, these are the types that need to be converted to Ubiquinol in the body before the body can use and benefit from it. Instead, look for labels that say “Ubiquinol” or “CoQ10 (as Ubiquinol).” Ubiquinol is the most bioavailable form available and can be used by the body right away. It is important to look for the Kaneka Quality Seal® - then you’ll know you are getting Ubiquinol and not a form that still requires that conversion.

Read More: Ubiquinol vs. Regular CoQ10

I’m On A Statin. Why Is Ubiquinol An Important Supplement?

As mentioned, Ubiquinol is made by our bodies. However, as we age, our internal production decreases.2 If you are prescribed a statin, this not only decreases your serum cholesterol levels, it also decreases your blood levels of CoQ10.3 So not only might you be running low due to the normal aging process, but it can be a double whammy when you are on a statin. Our bodies use the same compounds to make cholesterol and CoQ10. When cholesterol production is blocked by a statin, it also blocks the production of CoQ10. In addition, you usually have more of the active form, Ubiquinol, present because the body can convert it from ubiquinone, but due to age and increasing oxidative stress, we just aren’t quite as effective in making the conversion.4

Why does this matter so much? What exactly besides energy production does Ubiquinol do for you? Here are 2 great reasons:

1) It Promotes Heart Health

CoQ10 is everywhere in the body but the greatest concentration is in the heart. As we age, the conversion from ubiquinone to Ubiquinol is less efficient, and supplementing with conventional CoQ10 may not provide as great a benefit. Several studies have shown that regularly taking Ubiquinol supplements improved certain blood markers associated with heart health and that this form of CoQ10 is significantly better absorbed than conventional CoQ10.5 

2) It’s A Powerful Antioxidant

Oxidative stress is when we have an imbalance between the antioxidants and free radicals in our bodies. Although mild, short-term oxidative stress is nothing to worry about, long-term stress can damage the body’s cells and contribute to inflammation and premature aging. It is also linked to many chronic health conditions.6

As an antioxidant, Ubiquinol protects your cellular health. One study found that supplementing with 300mg of CoQ10 was found to lower systemic inflammation and increase antioxidant activity in patients with Coronary Artery Disease who were on a statin.7

Another study found that Ubiquinol lowered an enzyme called GGT (gamma-glutamyl transferase), a marker of oxidative stress, by 13% in a 2-week time frame. GGT increases with increased levels of oxidative stress.8

If you have been prescribed a statin, there are many good reasons to add a CoQ10 supplement to your daily routine. Look for the most bioavailable form to benefit you - make sure the dietary supplement label says “Kaneka Ubiquinol®.”

Tonya Romano

Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner

Tonya Romano is a Functional Nutritionist and the owner of Finding Balance Functional Nutrition. She has certifications from the Nutritional Therapy Association and Restorative Wellness Solutions as well as advanced training in supplement use.

References

1 Pravst I, Zmitek K, Zmitek J. Coenzyme Q10 contents in foods and fortification strategies. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Apr;50(4):269-80. doi: 10.1080/10408390902773037. PMID: 20301015.
Wada H, Goto H, Hagiwara S, Yamamoto Y. Redox status of coenzyme Q10 is associated with chronological age. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2007 Jul;55(7):1141-2
3 Passi S, Stancato A, Aleo E, Dmitrieva A, Littarru GP. Statins lower plasma and lymphocyte ubiquinol/ubiquinone without affecting other antioxidants and PUFA. Biofactors. 2003;18(1-4):113-24. doi: 10.1002/biof.5520180213. PMID: 14695926.
4 Maruoka H, Fujii K, Inoue K, Kido S. Long-term Effect of Ubiquinol on Exercise Capacity and the Oxidative Stress Regulation System in SAMP1 Mice. J Phys Ther Sci. 2014;26(3):367-371. doi:10.1589/jpts.26.367
5 Langsjoen PH, Langsjoen AM. Supplemental ubiquinol in patients with advanced congestive heart failure. Biofactors. 2008;32(1-4):119-28. doi: 10.1002/biof.5520320114. PMID: 19096107.
6  Eske, Jamie. How does oxidative stress affect the body? Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324863
7 Lee, B. J., Tseng, Y. F., Yen, C. H., & Lin, P. T. (2013). Effects of coenzyme Q10 supplementation (300 mg/day) on antioxidation and anti-inflammation in coronary artery disease patients during statins therapy: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Nutrition journal, 12(1), 142. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-12-142
8 Onur, S., Niklowitz, P., Jacobs, G., Nöthlings, U., Lieb, W., Menke, T., & Döring, F. (2014). Ubiquinol reduces gamma glutamyltransferase as a marker of oxidative stress in humans. BMC research notes, 7, 427. https://doi.org/10.1186/1756-0500-7-427

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.