Significant Difference in CoQ10 Absorption


A CoQ10 preparation that cannot be absorbed in the body is a waste of money. But why is there such a big difference in absorption and what does it take to ensure good absorption of CoQ10? Here we try to find the answers.


In a recent study six different CoQ10 formulations were examined with quite astounding results: Even though the same CoQ10 raw material was used in all preparations, the absorption of CoQ10 showed huge variation and turned out to be highly depending on how each preparation was processed and the type of oil used as carrier substance. In the worst case, virtually none of the CoQ10 raw material in the capsule was absorbed in the body.


An analysis under microscope shows significant differences in the structure of the CoQ10 crystals that explains why some CoQ10 proparations are absorbed better than others.



The Difference Lies in the CoQ10 Crystals



The video shows you how Coenzyme Q10 is absorbed in the body and why the crystal structure is essential for ensuring a high absorption.

For a more detailed walk-through about you might want to consult our detailed introduction to how CoQ10 is absorbed in the body. Here you will understand why fat or oil is necessary for CoQ10 to be absorbed and why oils with different melting points are essential for creating a CoQ10 product with high absorption.


Study Documents 3-10 Times Better Absorption

Leading clinical researchers have compared absorption of six different CoQ10 preparations. Five of the test preparations contained CoQ10 in different oil mixtures in soft-gel capsules; one test preparation consisted of finely ground CoQ10 powder in a hard-gel capsule. One preparation stood out in the absorption study: Myoqinon manufactured by Pharma Nord had a 3-10 times better absorption than any of the other five CoQ10 preparations. Myoquinon is the pharmaceutical version of the original CoQ10 product, Bio-Quinone Q10 Gold, introduced by Pharma Nord more than 30 years ago and which has been used in many clinical studies.


The graph shows absorption levels for the six CoQ10 preparations from the human clinical trial, all of which contained the ubiquinone form.


Why is CoQ10 so difficult for the body to absorp?


All CoQ10 manufacturers face the same challenge – that CoQ10 molecules form large unabsorbable crystal structures. It is extremely important to be aware of this as it results in CoQ10 products being difficult to absorb in the small intestine. Only if the CoQ10 manufacturer can prevent the molecules from clumping together and forming large crystals, is it possible to produce a product that is well absorbed and gives the desired effect.
Pharma Nord's unique and proprietary manufacturing process works with a sophisticated and patented manufacturing method that has been achieved through thermal processing to make the crystals finer and the surface more porous, thereby rendering the CoQ10 in a dissolvable form that your body can absorb.

Highly soluble Q10 crystals

Non-soluble Q10 crystals

CoQ10 under a Microscope: See the Difference

The images below clearly show the significant difference in crystal structure between highly solluble CoQ10 with "snow-flake" like structure and the poorly solluble CoQ10 that forms big chunks.


Highly Solluble CoQ10

Under a Microscope CoQ10 Crystals from Pharma Nord have a distinct "snow-flake"-like structure.

Poorly Solluble CoQ10

How other less soluble CoQ10 preparations appear in a microscope



The above photos are taken using a professional microscope  with with advanced calibration options and high quality lenses. You can however easily test your own Coenzyme Q10 at home using a microscope bought for as little as $ 60 with excellent results. See our article on how to test your own CoQ10 using an average quality home-microscope. The article will give you a step by step guide on how to test your CoQ10 at home and, what to look for and what you can expect to see with a cheap and easy to use microscope.



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How does the Patented Method Improve Absorption?

The patented method behind the superior absorption of Pharma Nord's CoQ10 involves using a blend of pharmaceutical-grade soybean oils (from which the allergy-inducing protein stuffs have been removed) with different melting points.


The oil with the low melting point remains liquid at normal room temperature so that the Q10 molecules are free floating, whereas the oil with the higher melting point ensures that fine fat particles will form during the manufacturing process and work as condensation nuclei for the Q10 molecules to form socalled micelles which are essential for the absorption in the intestine. The soybean oils are mixed with the CoQ10 raw material, which is in a crystalline structure as the oil mixture’s temperature is below 118.4 degrees Fahrenheit.


The next step involves using a proprietary thermal process that alters the surface of the crystalline CoQ10 molecules and makes them more open and porous. This process is completely natural. It neither affects nor alters the CoQ10 molecules by way of any chemical, genetic, or synthetic processing. The secret to the Pharma Nord Bio-Quinone formulation is the soybean oils' natural ability to help alter the surface structure of the CoQ10 molecules to become snowflake-like and porous, in order for them to be more easily dissolved and to pass through the intestinal barrier.

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From Massive Crystals to ”Snowflakes”


Instead of massive crystalline structures that cannot cross the point of absorption, the CoQ10 molecules are transformed during the proprietary thermal process to a structure that resembles a snowflake on the surface.

If you study these crystalline snowflake structures in a microscope, you can clearly see the numerous branch-like structures or snow crystals that the CoQ10 molecules now have. As the surface is more open and less compact, the crystals have an easier time dissolving at body temperatures.

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Can Bypass the Intestinal Barrier


The ability to pass the intestinal barrier has a defining impact on the bioavailability of a CoQ10 product. Immediately after ingestion, the gelatin in the soft-gel capsule will be dissolved in the stomach. The body temperature in the stomach is enough to dissolve the individual “snow-flake crystals” so that individual CoQ10 molecules are able to penetrate the intestinal barrier and enter the bloodstream.

The challenge of the CoQ10 Raw Material

The raw material used in all CoQ10 products is a fine yellow powder. If you observe the powder under a microscope, you will see clusters of large non-dissolvable crystals. These clusters are comprised of many CoQ10 molecules clumping together. Because of the sheer size of these crystals, it is impossible for the CoQ10 to cross the intestinal barrier in the small intestines during the absorption process, which would then lead them through the lymphatic system to the bloodstream.


Patented Method used in the most Successful Clinical Studies of CoQ10


Some of the the most successful clinical studies showing good effect of CoQ10 supplementation were conducted using CoQ10 manufactured by Pharma Nord and therefore based on the patented manufacturing process. For instance the renowned Kisel-10 and the Q-Symbio studies. The effect on absorption may play a key role in the successful results of CoQ10 found by the studies.

When you buy Pharma Nord's patented Bio-Quinone CoQ10 supplement, you get the reassurance that comes with the documentation of 22 human absorption studies.  

In addition, you get access to the results of 75 unique human studies documenting significant health benefits from taking the unique Bio-Quinone formulation.

Of these studies, 25 are gold standard studies that are randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies enrolling 30 or more participants.

absorb studies 22

Absorption studies

human studies 75

Unique human studies


studies in total

Q&A about Coenzyme Q10 with Fact from leading CoQ10 Researchers

CoQ10 experts have addressed various claims about CoQ10 and CoQ10 absorption. Check out these claims below

The short answer is because the preparation contains crystalline CoQ10 which is not dissolved completely in separate, free CoQ10 molecules.

Only free CoQ10 molecules can be absorbed in the intestine along with fat. The probability that CoQ10 in tablet or powder form will have a high absorption is close to zero. The absorption of crystalline CoQ10 is less than 1%.

CoQ10 molecules are basically fat-soluble. CoQ10 dissolves and mixes with oils; however, CoQ10 remains separate when it is put into water in the same way that oil and water will not mix.

There are numerous so-called water-soluble CoQ10 products on the market, which use different methods to achieve a supposed water-solubility. The fundamental problem with this is however that even if you envelope CoQ10 in liposomes or micelles, CoQ10 molecules will still remain fat-soluble and will need to be absorbed as a fat.

Another 'solution' often seen is to genetically modify and reduce the isoprene chain on the CoQ10 molecule, the resulting molecule will become more water soluble. However, it will no longer be a CoQ10 molecule but will be a CoQ9 or CoQ-whatever number, which is not appropriate for humans to use in ATP production. The basic issue is that the CoQ10 molecule (with 59 Carbon atoms in it) is too large to be absorbed like a water-soluble foodstuff.

There are no easy fixes to improve CoQ10 absorption!

All CoQ10 molecules have by definition the size of a nano particle. A nano particle is defined as a particle less than 100 nanometers (nm) on one or all sides. Talking about a special nano CoQ10 product is nonsense as the product size is already a nano particle, and all CoQ10 products are by scientific definition nano-CoQ10 products.

The discussion concerning so-called nano-CoQ10 products centers around the same issue as the fat-soluble versus water-soluble science discussion. The claim is that a nano-CoQ10 product is more water-soluble and therefore have improved absorption. However, the fact remains that CoQ10 molecules are fat-soluble and physically too large to pass the intestinal barrier as a water-soluble substance. Enveloping the CoQ10 molecule in other carriers does not solve the problem. Deconstructing the CoQ10 molecule to become CoQ9 or less and then putting it in a carrier to make it supposedly more water-soluble changes the basic structure of the CoQ10.

CoQ10 will always be predominantly fat-soluble and will be absorbed as such. Meanwhile, the documentation on better human absorption of ”Nano-CoQ10” is either weak or non-existent.

Even if the CoQ10 raw material is dissolved in oil, there are no guarantees that you will get a high absorption and gain an optimal effect from the product.

For example, some research with CoQ10 dissolved in fish oil have shown horrific low CoQ10 absorption levels. One plausible explanation is that fish oil has a melting point that is not conducive to good dissolution of the CoQ10 crystals. This does not necessarily mean that you should not take CoQ10 at the same time as fish oil capsules. At present, there is no research to determine the effect of taking the two products concurrently. Because of this uncertainty, some experts do recommend that you wait at least one hour between taking CoQ10 and fish oil supplements.

Even olive oil has shown not to be a good carrier oil for CoQ10 absorption. After examining many different carrier oils with the end goal of maximizing CoQ10 absorption levels in human clinical trials, Pharma Nord has reached the conclusion that a combination of soybean oils with different melting points are the most optimal carrier oil to maximize CoQ10 absorption.

CoQ10 comes in two different forms: An oxidized form, ubiquinone, and a reduced form, ubiquinol (QH).

Your body continuously converts CoQ10 from ubiquinone to ubiquinol and back as needed. This continuous transformation between the two forms happens constantly in the body's cells. Nothing indicates that the body absorbs ubiquinol more easily than ubiquinone. On the contrary, some Q10 researchers have determined that ubiquinol intake is oxidized to ubiquinone already in the intestine and is absorbed as ubiquinone.

In all circumstances, almost all of the human clinical research showing a positive effect from CoQ10 has been performed with the oxidized ubiquinone form.

Moreover, the ubiquinol form of CoQ10 supplement is a very volatile and unstable form because it is an electron donor (antioxidant). When ubiquinol is exposed to oxygen, it is transformed to the ubiquinone form. This conversion to ubiquinone can even happen inside the soft-gels before you ingest the product. Consequently, you might end up paying for a raw material, which is more expensive because of the special handling requirements to prevent any contact with air.

Taking the ubiquinol form of CoQ10 does not give any apparent advantages over ubiquinone. Ironically, you might end up absorbing ubiquinone even if you take a ubiquinol product because the ubiquinol can and does oxidize in the harsh digestive environment.

In the same way that a chain is not stronger than its weakest link, even the best and most expensive CoQ10 raw material can end up being useless for our bodies if it is not processed correctly.

Regardless of whether the CoQ10 raw material is cheap or expensive, the CoQ10 molecules have a natural tendency to form large crystalline clusters. It is not until the manufacturer subjects the CoQ10 raw material to a thermal manufacturing process that the crystalline surface structure is transformed in a way that precludes the crystalline clustering inside the soft-gels.

Many factors affect the outcomes in a clinical trial and determine whether the outcomes are positive and statistically significant.

For CoQ10 supplementation to achieve a positive effect, the participants must be able to absorb the actual content of the CoQ10 product. Many human clinical trials have been carried out with CoQ10 products that do not have clinical documentation establishing their absorption and bioavailability.

The extent of CoQ10 absorption can affect the outcome of the clinical trial in a major way and can explain why some scientists do not obtain the expected positive outcomes and statistical significance from CoQ10 supplementation.

Pharma Nord has more than 130 scientific studies on its CoQ10 flagship product; more than 75 of those are human clinical trials.

Pharma Nord's patented method of making CoQ10 supplements has been developed over a period of several years starting in 1991. Pharma Nord's CoQ10 has been used in some of the most important CoQ10 studies around the world. That is why this product has become the official reference product for the International Coenzyme Q10 Association (ICQA).

Here are some examples of recent studies with statistically significant outcomes:

*** The two-year Q-Symbio Study showed that 300 mg/day adjuvant treatment with Bio-Quinone significantly improved the symptoms and survival of chronic heart failure patients with a 43% reduction in cardiovascular mortality.

*** The four-year KiSel-10 Study showed that 200 mg/day of Bio-Quinone in combination with 200 mcg/day of a patented high selenium yeast preparation significantly reduced cardiovascular mortality (by 54%), improved heart function, and improved the quality of life for seniors after the age of 70.

*** The three-month Gulf War Illness Study showed that 100 mg/day of Bio-Quinone significantly improved physical function and reduced many symptoms in veterans diagnosed with Gulf War Illness.

If you belong to the group of people who will benefit from a CoQ10 supplement it makes sense if you choose a preparation that offers scientific documentation of its absorption rather than mere marketing claims.

Your heart muscle has a constant need for cellular ATP energy production; CoQ10 is an essential co-factor in this process. Moreover, your heart muscle cells need antioxidant protection. CoQ10 is an important fat-soluble antioxidant.

The original CoQ10 that started it all is now available in the US as an OTC product under the name of Bio-Quinone Active CoQ10 GOLD. This is the product that was used in all the groundbreaking CoQ10 studies that the other companies are referring to in their marketing claims.

The original CoQ10 product was developed as a medical preparation with the name of Myoqinon. It is produced in a patented process that dissolves the CoQ10 in an special oil matrix that makes it highly bioavailable. This pharmaceutical CoQ10 is protected by a proprietary soft-gel capsule. This product is now available as an OTC dietary supplement produced in exactly the same way and under the same patent as the medical preparation. It goes by various names around the world but is marketed as Bio-Quinone Active CoQ10 GOLD in North America.