As consumers of Coenzyme Q10 supplements, we must be ultra-careful in evaluating the marketing claims for CoQ10 absorption and efficacy. The nutritional supplements market is a largely unregulated one. It is up to us to do due diligence before buying a CoQ10 product.
All of the CoQ10 products on the market are not equally good. There is very considerable variability in the formulation and solubilization of Coenzyme Q10 with the result that there is also great variability in the absorption and bio-availability of Coenzyme Q10. It is important to remember that the less expensive CoQ10 product is not a good buy if we do not absorb any or much of the active ingredient.
There are too many unfounded and undocumented claims in the marketing and advertising of Coenzyme Q10 products. We consumers need to have references to published studies of Coenzyme Q10 absorption or health effects that we can follow up on.
CoQ10 Supplementation Necessary in the Middle and Senior Years
For those of us in middle age and in our senior years, Coenzyme Q10 clearly belongs in the top tier of nutritional supplements along with vitamin D and fish oil and vitamin B12.
Why is that?
- Because our cells synthesize less and less Coenzyme Q10 with increasing age once we reach maturity. The Swedish researchers Kalén, Appelkvist, and Dallner have demonstrated this convincingly [Kalén].
- Because, as Dr. William Judy explains in his Insider’s Guide to Coenzyme Q10, it is practically impossible to make up for the loss in endogenous Coenzyme Q10 by eating more food or by eating wisely [Judy 2018].
Coenzyme Q10 for Energy Production and Antioxidant Protection
We need to supplement our dietary intake of Coenzyme Q10 as we age because Coenzyme Q10 has the following documented biological functions [Alehagen]:
- an essential bio-nutrient for the cellular process of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) molecules are the high-energy molecules with easily broken phosphate bonds that release energy to the energy-requiring processes in the cells. Coenzyme Q10 is essential to the process of ATP production.... Read more about this term energy generation
- an important fat-soluble Antioxidants are substances that protect the cells and lipoproteins against the harmful effects of free radicals. They are substances that prevent the oxidation of other molecules and compounds. There are two broad categories of antioxidants: enzymatic and non-enzymatic. Non-enzymatic antioxidants are substances like Coenzyme Q10, vitamin C, vitamin E, glutathione, and various carotenoids. Prominent enzymatic antioxidants include catalase, glutathione peroxidase,... Read more about this term protecting the cells against damage by harmful Free radicals are unstable and highly reactive molecules that are produced in the body during normal oxygen metabolism. Free radicals derived from oxygen are known as reactive oxygen species. Free radicals play both helpful and harmful roles in the body. Free radicals steal electrons from other substances in order to become stable. In so doing, the free radicals oxidize those... Read more about this term
- anti-inflammatory effects
Which CoQ10 Marketing Claims Should We be on Guard Against?
Claims for Ubiquinol Supplements
First, there are many misleading claims for a supposed better absorption of the reduced form of Coenzyme Q10, the ubiquinol form, over the more stable and much more documented oxidized form, the ubiquinone form.
In two WholeFoods magazine interviews conducted by Dr. Richard Passwater, Dr. William Judy has addressed the illegitimacy of the claims for better absorption of ubiquinol. Dr. Judy points out that the claims come not from parallel group studies and not from crossover studies but from comparisons of results from studies different in every imaginable way [Passwater]:
- different periods (different decades even) and different locations
- different researchers and different research methods
- different sets of study participants with different demographics
- different formulations (dry powder vs dissolved in oils)
Simply put, the marketing claims of x times better absorption of ubiquinol are based upon unfair comparisons. It is puzzling that the marketers have gotten away with this deception [Passwater].
In 2019, Dr. Lopez-Lluch and a team of researchers in Sevilla, Spain, reported the results of a double-blind crossover study comparing the absorption of a patented ubiquinone CoQ10 formulation with a ubiquinol formulation and five other different ubiquinone formulations.
The patented ubiquinone formulation was absorbed significantly better than the ubiquinol formulation and the other ubiquinone formulations. The results showed the importance of the formulation (the mix of the carrier oils and solubilization of the CoQ10 raw material) to absorption [Lopez-Lluch].
Claims for Water-Soluble Coenzyme Q10
Please beware of companies claiming to sell you a water-soluble CoQ10 product with a better absorption. Briefly put, the so-called water-soluble Coenzyme Q10 is no longer the real Coenzyme Q10 if the manufacturers have shortened or otherwise modified the CoQ10 molecules’ hydrophobic tail to make the molecules “water-soluble.”
Likewise, packing the fat-soluble CoQ10 molecules into hydrophilic liposomes or micelles does not make the Coenzyme Q10 itself cease being fat-soluble. The molecules will still have to be absorbed as fat-soluble molecules once they are released from the liposomes or micelles.
Claims for Recommended Number 1 by Cardiologists
As with any claims of this nature – e.g. more dentists recommend Crust toothpaste – we want to know who did the survey, how was the sample selected, how was the question phrased, etc.
At the present time (December 2019), there is a company claiming to sell the number one cardiologists’ recommended form of Coenzyme Q10.
There are several disturbing things about this claim:
- based on a survey done by a company paid to do the survey (potential conflict of interest)
- done with a very small number of cardiologists in a self-selected sample that cannot possibly be considered as representative of all cardiologists in the US
- no information about how the survey question was phrased
Summary: Important that CoQ10 Claims are Documented
A good Coenzyme Q10 supplement has documented beneficial effects:
- in chronic The Mayo Clinic defines heart failure, also known as congestive heart failure and/or chronic heart failure, as the failure of the heart muscle to pump blood to the body adequately. In other words, heart failure is not a heart attack, and it is not death from heart disease, which its name might seem to imply. Heart failure is a condition... Read more about this term patients [Mortensen]
- in community dwelling senior citizens [Alehagen]
- in veterans diagnosed with Gulf War Illness [Golomb]
- in patients with statin-associated myopathy [Fedacko]
A good Coenzyme Q10 supplement is documented safe and effective in peer-reviewed published reports.
Coenzyme Q10 supplements are affordable but only if they are formulated in a way that gives a good absorption. Without documentation of their absorption, most Coenzyme Q10 supplements are a gamble.
Why gamble with the health of your heart muscle cells?
Alehagen, U., Johansson, P., Björnstedt, M., Rosén, A., & Dahlström, U. (2013). Cardiovascular mortality and N-terminal-proBNP reduced after combined Selenium (symbol Se, atomic number 34) is a trace element that is an essential nutrient and an essential component of some of the most important antioxidants in the body, in particular the selenoproteins glutathione peroxidase, thioredoxin reductase, and selenoprotein P. Selenium is involved in the optimal functioning of the immune system. Professor Alehagen has pointed out that there exists a... Read more about this term and Coenzyme Q10 supplementation: a 5-year prospective randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial among elderly Swedish citizens. International Journal of Cardiology, 167(5), 1860-1866.
Alehagen, U., Lindahl, T. L., Aaseth, J., Svensson, E., & Johansson, P. (2015). Levels of sP-selectin and hs-CRP Decrease with Dietary Intervention with Selenium and Coenzyme Q10 Combined: A Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Clinical trials are research studies in which various treatments, interventions, or tests are investigated for their safety and efficacy when used to detect, prevent, or treat diseases and medical conditions in patients and healthy volunteers. The gold standard for clinical trials are randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies.... Read more about this term. Plos One, 10(9), e0137680.
Fedacko, J., Pella, D., Fedackova, P. & Hanninen, O. (2013). Coenzyme Q10 and selenium in statin-associated myopathy treatment. Can J Physiol Pharmacol; 91:165-70.
Golomb, B. CoQ10 and Gulf War illness. Neural Computation 2014 Nov; Vol. 26 (11), pp. 2594-651.
Judy, W. V. (2018). The Substance that Powers Life: Coenzyme Q10, An Insider’s Guide. Ny Videnskab. ISBN 978-87-7776-186-7. Available from amazon.com.
Judy, W. V. (2015, Oct. 11). Coenzyme Q10 absorption research. Paper presented at the 8th conference of The International Coenzyme Q10 Association, Bologna, Italy.
Kalén, A., Appelkvist E.L., Dallner G. (1989). Age-related changes in the lipid compositions of rat and human tissues. Lipids, 24(7):579–584.
López-Lluch, G., Del Pozo-Cruz, J., Sánchez-Cuesta, A., Cortés-Rodríguez, A. B., & Navas, P. (2019). Bioavailability of coenzyme Q10 supplements depends on carrier lipids and solubilization. Nutrition, 57, 133–140.
Passwater, R. A. (2019, February 27) Coenzyme Q10: Research Confirms Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol are nearly equally-absorbed compounds. The physical form and companion ingredients make the bioavailability and absorption difference in Coenzyme Q10 supplements. Part 1: The functions and absorption of Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol. An interview with Dr. William V. Judy, Ph.D. WholeFoods Magazine. Retrieved from https://wholefoodsmagazine.com/columns/vitamin-connection/coenzyme-q10-research-confirms-ubiquinone-and-ubiquinol-are-nearly-equally-absorbed-compounds-the-physical-form-and-companion-ingredients-make-the-bioavailability-and-absorption-difference-in-coenz/
Passwater, R. A. (2019, March 20). Coenzyme Q10: Research Confirms Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol are nearly equally-absorbed compounds. The physical form and companion ingredients make the bioavailability and absorption difference in Coenzyme Q10 supplements. Part 2: The absorption of Ubiquinone and Ubiquinol forms of Coenzyme Q10. WholeFoods Magazine. Retrieved from https://wholefoodsmagazine.com/columns/vitamin-connection/coenzyme-q10-research-confirms-ubiquinone-and-ubiquinol-are-nearly-equally-absorbed-compounds-the-physical-form-and-companion-ingredients-make-the-bioavailability-and-absorption-difference-in-coenz-2/
The information presented in this review article is not intended as medical advice and should not be used as such.
13 December 2019Please click here for additional information about CoQ10 supplementation and heart health.