Dr. Judy speaks on the formulation of Coenzyme Q10 supplements

Dr. William Judy, founder and president of the SIBR Research Institute, says the manufacturer of a Coenzyme Q10 supplement needs three things in the soft-gel capsule together with the 100 milligrams of dissolved Coenzyme Q10 crystals: A solvent in which the Coenzyme Q10 crystals are dissociated, a stable formulation that will prevent the re-crystallization of the Coenzyme Q10 inside the capsule, and one or more lipids that, ingested together with the Coenzyme Q10, will enhance the absorption of the Coenzyme Q10.

The formulation of the Coenzyme Q10 supplement is of utmost importance.  Formulation affects absorption.  Absorption affects efficacy.  Not all Coenzyme Q10 supplements give the same level of absorption.

Coenzyme Q10 molecules are fairly large, fat-soluble molecules.  Coenzyme Q10 has a six-carbon benzoquinone ring as its head and a ten-unit isoprenoid tail that is strongly hydrophobic.  For best absorption, Coenzyme Q10 needs to be ingested together with a meal containing some fat.  Despite some claims to the contrary, it is not possible to re-make Coenzyme Q10 into a water-soluble substance.  Such a product no longer has the properties of Coenzyme Q10 [Judy 2018].

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Interview with Dr. Judy: the need for Coenzyme Q10

Q.  Good morning, Dr. Judy.  You have talked with us about the safety of Coenzyme Q10 supplements, and you have told us that the formulation of the supplement is decisive for the absorption of Coenzyme Q10.  Shouldn’t we talk today about why we adults need daily Coenzyme Q10 supplements?

Coenzyme Q10 molecules are redox molecules.  Ubiquinone can accept electrons, and ubiquinol can donate electrons.   Oxireductase enzymes catalyze ubiquinone’s accepting electrons.  Free radicals take electrons from ubiquinol and become stable.

A.  Yes, indeed.  Coenzyme Q10 is very much needed and, at the same time, very little known by most people.  Our bodies produce Coenzyme Q10 –called ubiquinone –, and Coenzyme Q10 is found in all of our cells except the red blood cells.  That should tell us something.

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Dr. Judy’s Coenzyme Q10 research history

When the ubiquinol supplement enters the stomach and when the capsule opens, the ubiquinol begins to oxidize. In the small intestine, the ubiquinol is converted to almost all ubiquinone. In the absorption cells and in the abdominal lymph ducts, the Coenzyme Q10 is initially almost all in the ubiquinone form. The Coenzyme Q10 enters the blood from the lymph. Thus, it appears that ubiquinol is absorbed as ubiquinone and not as ubiquinol. It is then converted back to ubiquinol before entering the blood. From: Dr. Judy’s presentation at the International Coenzyme Q10 Association symposium in Bologna, Italy, October, 2015.

Q. Good morning, Dr. Judy.  Let’s talk about the Coenzyme Q10 research you have done in your career.  But, first, do you remember when you first met Dr. Karl Folkers, the grand old man of Coenzyme Q10 research?

A. Good morning.  Yes, I met Dr. Folkers in 1968.  He had just started the Institute for Bio-Medical Research at UT in Austin.  He came to talk to Dr. Les Geddes and Dr. Lee Baker in the Physiology and Biophysics Department at Baylor University Medical School in Houston, Texas.  He talked to them about the bio-electrical impedance method for non-invasively measuring cardiac function in heart failure patients.

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Coenzyme Q10 Absorption Q & A with Dr. Judy

Long-time Coenzyme Q10 researchers and colleagues of Dr. Judy: Dr. Karl Folkers (left) and Dr. Svend Aage Mortensen, the lead researcher on the Q-Symbio study.

Q.  Good morning, Dr. Judy.  Thank you for taking some time for q10facts.com.  Last time we talked about the safety of Coenzyme Q10.  What about the absorption and bioavailability of Coenzyme Q10?  That has been a special area of research for you at the SIBR Research Institute, I think.

A.  Good morning.  Yes, you are correct.  I have been involved in several clinical studies of the efficacy of Coenzyme Q10 supplementation, but my big interest for the past 20 years has been in testing the absorption and bioavailability of the various Coenzyme Q10 supplements.  Maybe I should start by distinguishing between absorption studies and bioavailability studies.

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Dr. Judy speaks about Coenzyme Q10

dr-judy-in-bologna-2015
Dr. William V. Judy delivering remarks about Coenzyme Q10 absorption at the International Coenzyme Q10 Association conference in Bologna, Italy, in October, 2015.

Dr. William V. Judy earned his doctorate degree in physiology and bio-physics in 1971.  He has worked as an aerospace scientist in NASA’s manned spacecraft center and has taught in the Indiana University School of Medicine as a Professor of Physiology.  Dr. Judy has worked in basic and clinical research for 56 years now; the major focus of his research has been on the absorption, efficacy, and safety of Coenzyme Q10.  He was an early colleague of Dr. Karl Folkers, with whom he carried out joint research studies for 21 years.
 
Absorption of Coenzyme Q10 from supplements
Dr. Judy makes the following points about the absorption of Coenzyme Q10:

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Dr. Judy explains Coenzyme Q10 and the Q cycle

Woman in front of water
As we get older, we need a good Coenzyme Q10 supplement. Once we pass our 20’s, our bodies produce less and less Coenzyme Q10, and we do not get enough in our diets to make up the difference.

Coenzyme Q10, the essential bio-nutrient, is categorized as a redox molecule.  The Coenzyme Q10 molecules exist in three different forms as they take part in redox reactions in the body.  It is the ability of the Coenzyme Q10 molecules to give up or take on one or two electrons that makes Coenzyme Q10 so valuable both in the process of cellular energy production and in cellular antioxidant activities.

What is a redox reaction?
Redox is short for reduction-oxidation.  Redox reactions are quite common in nature.  Such everyday processes as combustion (burning), corrosion (rusting), photosynthesis (converting sunlight into energy), and respiration (exchanging gases between the blood and the tissue fluids) involve redox reactions.

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Dr. Judy explains Coenzyme Q10 absorption

Bill Judy Picture
Dr. William Judy, founder and director of the SIBR Institute, is arguably the world’s leading expert on Coenzyme Q10 absorption. He has led numerous lab studies and animal studies and clinical trials on the absorption and effects of Coenzyme Q10 preparations.

We know that Coenzyme Q10 is an essential co-factor in at least three important processes in the body: cellular energy production, cellular and lipid antioxidant defense, and regulation of endothelial cell function. We know that our adult bodies produce less Coenzyme Q10 with increasing age, and we know that most of us cannot make up the difference through the food that we eat [6]. From the age of 40 on, we need a good Coenzyme Q10 supplement daily.  I asked Dr. William Judy what is involved in getting a good Coenzyme Q10 supplement.

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Talking with Dr. Judy about Coenzyme Q10 absorption

Bill Judy Picture
Dr. William Judy holds a Ph.D. in physiology and bio-physics, he taught physiology for many years in the Indiana University College of Medicine, and he has been doing research on the absorption and effects of Coenzyme Q10 for 30 years now. He is currently the chairman of SIBR Research.

How do we get optimal amounts of Coenzyme Q10 to produce the energy that we need?  That is the question that I asked of Dr. Judy.  I wanted Dr. Judy to tell me what conclusions he has arrived at based on his own CoQ10 research studies and on his reading of other CoQ10 research studies.  In what follows, I have summarized many of the important points that Dr. Judy makes.

Subject: the body’s own synthesis of CoQ10
The liver, because of its rather large mass, produces relatively more Coenzyme Q10 than other organs do. In fact, Dr. Karl Folkers thought that the endogenously produced CoQ10 in the blood comes primarily from the liver.  But, Dr. Judy tells me, other organs – the heart, the kidneys, the brain – certainly do also produce Coenzyme Q10.  And, actually, some Coenzyme Q10 is being synthesized in practically all of the cells in the body that have healthy mitochondria.  After all, every cell in the body needs energy to carry out its functions, and the energy production process requires the presence of ubiquinone Q10.

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Ubiquinone? Ubiquinol? What does Dr. Judy say?

Dr. William V. Judy, himself a 16-year survivor of a heart attack, takes 200 mg a day of a ubiquinone Q10 supplement. The normal life span for Class IV Chronic Heart Failure patients is 7 years when taking conventional therapy only.

Coenzyme Q10 in its ubiquinone form?  Or in its ubiquinol form?  Which form is best?  And why is one form the better choice?  It is the question that doesn’t go away.

Difference between Q10 searches in Medline and Google
When I look at Medline for reports of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) showing the effects of Q10 supplementation, I find mostly studies using the ubiquinone form.  It is the well-documented form.

When I use Google to look for new information about Q10 supplements, I find more claims than I find reports of research results.  In Google, the ratio of ubiquinol claims to ubiquinone claims is much higher than the ratio of ubiquinol-to-ubiquinone research results is in Medline.  That is strange.

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Dr. Judy talks about Q10 nanoparticles and Q10 micelles

Doctor at microscope
Nanoparticles are man-made microscopic spheres encapsulating Q10 molecules or encapsulating other drug substances for delivery through the stomach to the small intestine. Micelles are microscopic spheres composed by the body itself of molecules that have hydrophilic heads and hydrophobic tails as the Q10 molecules do. Dr. Judy says that micelles are more efficient than nanoparticles at the delivery of Q10 molecules to the absorption cells. 

Dr. William Judy makes a very important point: Coenzyme Q10 in nature exists as single molecules. When the body produces Q10 naturally, it produces the Q10 as single molecules. By the way, when the body produces Q10, it produces the Q10 in the ubiquinone form.

But man-made Q10 is shipped and stored in the form of Q10 crystals.  Manufacturers of Q10 products sometimes try to find ways of packaging and selling the dry Q10 powder. This is not a good idea.

At body temperature, the crystals do not dissolve into single molecules in the stomach or in the small intestine, and our bodies cannot absorb the crystals. The absorption cells in the small intestine will accept only single molecules.

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