What is Coenzyme Q10?
CoQ10 is a vitamin-like substance that is also a coenzyme. CoQ10 is ubiquitous in the cells all throughout the body. CoQ10 is a tiny, but nonetheless essential component in the ATP production in the mitochondria. CoQ10 helps control the cells' fat-, carbohydrate- and protein metabolism, which is subsequently turned into energy. This newly produced energy is enveloped in the molecule ATP (adenosine-triphosphate), which shortly after is broken down to transfer the chemical energy to mechanical energy for the muscles to move.
CoQ10 from the diet and supplements is absorbed from the small intestines into the lymphatic system bound to lipoproteins called chylomicrons, which are formed in the intestinal cells after ingesting fats from a meal. From the lymphatic system CoQ10 is transferred to the bloodstream.
No Effect from Tablets or Hardgel Capsules
Clinical research shows that CoQ10 in a powder form taken without any oils or fats is pracically unabsorbable. This means that CoQ10 in a tablet form or CoQ10 products with CoQ10 powder in hard gels is almost totally unusable by our body. Here, it is important to emphasize that the same goes for CoQ10 in an oil matrix in softgels unless the CoQ10 raw material has been through a thermal process that prevents unabsorbable crystals in the CoQ10 product. There are numerous CoQ10 products that look identical to Pharma Nord's brown softgels; however, this does not mean that the product can be absorbed. The only way to be sure that it is a high quality product with a satisfactory absorption level is to choose a CoQ10 product that has actual clinical research evidence documenting that the CoQ10 product increases the CoQ10 blood levels.
|See the video to understand CoQ10 quality differences|
Requires Special Pre-treatment
In human clinical trials where researchers have measured the CoQ10 blood content pre- and post trial, the researchers have been able to document the absorption effect from the ingested CoQ10 products. The best results have been achieved using a unique formulation of oils with softgels containing pre-heated ubiquinone to ensure a complete dissolution of the CoQ10 crystals at body temperature, not the higher melting point of the CoQ10 crystals when untreated (118.4 degrees F).
Ubiquinol or Ubiquinone?
Coenzyme Q10 supplements come in two forms: ubiquinone and ubiquinol. There are many myths and misconceptions about which form of CoQ10 supplement is better. In actual fact, there is a difference in the way in which the two forms of Coenzyme Q10 are absorbed.
In this video, it can be seen that the content of the ubiquinol supplement is mostly converted to the ubiquinone form of CoQ10 when it reaches the stomach. The CoQ10 then transits from the stomach to the small intestines where is absorbed in the ubiquinone form. Once the ubiquinone has passed from the intestinal absorption cells into the lymph, it converts back to the ubiquinol form. It passes from the lymph to the blood in the form of ubiquinol. There are two conversions in the body from the time the ubiquinol is swallowed until it enters the blood circulation.
Ubiquinone, on the other hand, passes from the stomach to the small intestines and is absorbed as ubiquinone. In the lymph, the ubiquinone is converted to the ubiquinol form, and it enters the blood circulation in the ubiquinol form. There is only one conversion in the body from the time the ubiquinone is swallowed until it enters the blood circulation.
The body will get CoQ10 in the antioxidant form in the lymph and the blood regardless of whether the CoQ10 supplement is in the ubiquinone or ubiquinol form. This basic fact begs the question: why buy a ubiquinol supplement when a ubiquinone supplement is less expensive, more stable, and better documented?
Why pay more for less?
CoQ10 switches easily between two different forms
The image shows a ubiquinone molecule that receives two hydrogen atoms (white) that each bind to its own oxygen atom (red) on the quinone head of the CoQ10 molecule. When both hydrogen atoms are attached to the quinone head, the ubiquinone molecule is altered (reduced) to ubiquinol, which is chemically an alcohol. It is also seen that the oxygen atom from having a double bond to the carbon atom (gray) now has a single bond.
Subsequently, ubiquinol delivers the two hydrogen atoms again, after which it switches back (oxidized) to ubiquinone.
This process from one form of CoQ10 to the other takes place in the gut and lymph, as well as in the inner membrane of the cell's mitochondria where the CoQ10 shifts back and forth between the various forms several hundred times each second in connection with the energy production of the mitochondria.
Reduced CoQ10 - Ubiquinol
360 view of the Ubiquinol molecule
CoQ10 appears in two slightly different forms and also has two important but completely different functions in the body. One form is its reduced form. Reduced CoQ10 is called ubiquinol. In the blood and lymphatic ducts, most of the body's CoQ10 is in the form of ubiquinol, where it acts as an antioxidant. It protects against oxidative damage of the LDL cholesterol (Low-Density Lipoprotein), the cholesterol form everyone is worried about.
Oxidized CoQ10 - Ubiquinone
360 view of the Ubiquinone molecule
The other form of CoQ10 is its oxidized form called ubiquinone. When CoQ10 was first discovered by Dr. Frederick Crane in 1957, it was actually the ubiquinone form he identified. All research from that point forward for the rest of the century centered only on ubiquinone. Can you spot the difference? Rotate the molecules and take a look at the quinone head. Compared to ubiquinol the ubiquinone form has two double bonds between oxygen and carbon and is missing two hydrogen atoms. Ubiquinone is a more stable form.
Inside the cell's mitochondria ubiquinone takes part in the cell's energy production. During this energy production CoQ10 is constantly switching from one form to the other several hundred times each second as each are a byproduct of the other, depending on whether it receives electrons (ubiquinone) or donates them (ubiquinol). You could compare this to performing in a play, where you play two different parts requiring costume changes for each character.
Ubiquinone is More Stable
In 2006, part of the CoQ10 industry started to market CoQ10 in the form of ubiquinol. The argument was that some people have difficulty converting ubiquinone to ubiquinol and therefore the idea was that you should take the missing form, which they at that point dubbed "active Q10." It later turned out that they were wrong about their concept. Scientists pointed out that the body can convert back and forth without any issues. Studies have shown that daily supplementation with a good ubiquinone preparation will significantly increase the levels of ubiquinol in blood plasma and in lipoproteins in the blood.
It is also misleading to indicate that the ubiquinol form is more active than ubiquinone. Both are active even though they have different physiological functions.
Do Your Own Research at Home
Since ubiquinol is by nature unstable, it can be a a good idea to examine whether your ubiquinol softgel contains ubiquinol or whether the content has been oxidized to become ubiquinone. Ubiquinone is a yellow substance, whereas the ubiquinol antioxidant form is a white substance prior to oxidation. Poke a hole in your ubiquinol softgel and squeeze out the contents on a napkin or plate. If it is yellow, it has been oxidized inside the softgel and thereby converted to ubiquinone. If it is white it is true to the declared ubiquinol contents as declared by the manufacturer.