Co-enzyme Q10 (also known as ubiquinone) is converted in the body into an active form called ubiquinol. That’s the difference – one is an inactive form and the other an active one.
So what does that really mean? If you were to take 200mg a day of CoQ10, you would increase your ubiquinol blood levels by around 60% (according to research published in 2018) (1). If you were to take the same amount of ubiquinol, those same levels would rise by 150%! A previously-conducted study came to the same conclusion (2).
In other words, both substances will produce increased blood levels, but ubiquinol is the more effective of the two.
This is due to ubiquinol’s superior bioavailability (co-enzyme Q10 is not 100% absorbed in the gut) and the rate at which CoQ10 is converted (only 90% is estimated to be transformed in the body into ubiquinol). Unsurprisingly, this superiority comes at a price: co-enzyme Q10 supplements are usually less expensive than ubiquinol supplements …
Ubiquinol is a valuable antioxidant compound which is used to create energy in most of the body’s cells. It is produced in the heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas, and is then carried throughout the body.
The body’s production of ubiquinol is disrupted by taking statins, as well as by cardiac disease and aging. In actual fact, blood levels of co-enzyme Q10 increase up to the age of 60 and it’s only in the brain and in heart tissue that they diminish over time. More importantly, there’s also an age-related decline in the rate at which co-enzyme Q10 is converted into ubiquinol!
So as we get older, we have decreasing levels of ubiquinol, a decline which has been directly linked to increased oxidative stress (3-4) (which is itself a factor in almost all ‘modern’ diseases). And since coQ10 is virtually absent from our diet (apart from tiny amounts in beef and chicken), supplements represent the best way of increasing ubiquinol levels.
Research has shown that coQ10 and ubiquinol play a role in a number of physiological effects:
Note: It takes around three months’ supplementation before the first effects appear (7).
As these two compounds are fat-soluble, it’s important to take them with a meal rich in fatty acids (generally lunch), or better still, to choose supplements that contain optimal levels of fatty acids ( Coenzyme Q10 30 mg and Ubiquinol™ 100 mg).
Taking them with food also slows down intestinal transit, leaving more time for the CoQ10 and Ubiquinol to be absorbed in the small intestine. The doses used in clinical trials vary from 50mg to 200mg a day, ideally spread over two or three doses.