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CoQ10 vs. Ubiquinol, a position paper from Viridian Nutrition.

Monday October 28, 2013

Viridian Nutrition Position Paper

CoQ10 vs. Ubiquinol by Ben Brown, technical director, Viridian Nutrition

A number of manufacturers are claiming that the dietary supplement ubiquinol is superior to CoQ10 (ubiquinone) however there are a number of problems with the claim that ubiquinol is superior.  This position paper critically examines common marketing claims related to the superiority of ubiquinol to CoQ10 from an evidence-based perspective.

Marketing Claim No1: Ubiquinol is more effective.

Currently there are about 11 human clinical studies of ubiquinol (1-11) while there are over 300 clinical studies of CoQ10 (12). This is important because it is CoQ10, not ubiquinol, which has a wealth of evidence clearly supporting its efficacy and safety for a wide range of uses.
The only clinical study directly comparing CoQ10 to ubiquinol for a health issue (dry mouth) found no difference in terms of clinical effectiveness at an equivalent 100 mg dose of each (1).
It is also claimed that because ubiquinol is more effective, you need to take less.  However, clinical studies tend to use doses ranging from 100 mg to 450 mg of ubiquinol daily, which is no less than those typically used for CoQ10.

Summary: The clinical evidence for CoQ10 is far superior to ubiquinol.  Further, there is currently no evidence to suggest low-dose or an equivalent-dose of ubiquinol is more effective than CoQ10.

Marketing Claim No2 : Ubiquinol is biologically superior.

Claims that ubiquinol is the “biologically active” form of CoQ10 are incorrect. Both ubiquinol and CoQ10 have distinct physiological functions and are both important biologically. Notably, CoQ10 is produced in the body and can then be easily converted to ubiquinol if required. And supplementation with CoQ10 will significantly raise ubiquinol levels (13).

Summary: There is no evidence to suggest ubiquinol is biologically superior.

Marketing Claim No3 : CoQ10 metabolism declines with age.

It is sometimes claimed that the ability to synthesize and convert CoQ10 to ubiquinol declines with age; therefore supplementation with ubiquinol is superior.  However, there is no evidence to suggest that this is the case.
On the contrary a study looking at blood levels of CoQ10 with age found an increase in blood levels in older age (14) and another study comparing blood levels of CoQ10 and ubiquinol in younger children (0.2-7.6 years) to adults (29-78 years) found no significant difference (15).

Summary: CoQ10 production and conversion to ubiquinol does not change with age.

Marketing Claim  No4 : Absorption of ubiquinol is superior to CoQ10.

To date four studies have directly compared the absorption of CoQ10 to ubiquinol. Two of these found no significant difference between CoQ10 and ubiquinol; one study suggested superior absorption of ubiquinol and another found CoQ10 superior (16-19). 
It is important to note that the bioavailability of CoQ10 varies considerably across formulations making comparison of absorption difficult (13). Also the absorption of CoQ10 is enhanced by about 300% if taken with food (20).  
Summary:  It is not clear if ubiquinol absorption is superior to CoQ10. Further, CoQ10 formulation and timing with food will greatly improve absorption. 


The claims that ubiquinol is superior to CoQ10 are not all they’re cracked up to be. There is currently no good reason to switch from CoQ10 to ubiquinol which, apart from having little evidence to support its effectiveness, is often much more expensive.

The moral question

An additional moral reason why ethical supplement companies, including Viridian Nutrition do NOT supply ubiquinol is that there is only one manufacturer globally and they have tested on animals.


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2. Miyamae T, Seki M, Naga T, Uchino S, Asazuma H, Yoshida T, Iizuka Y, Kikuchi M, Imagawa T, Natsumeda Y, Yokota S, Yamamoto Y. Increased oxidative stress and coenzyme Q10 deficiency in juvenile fibromyalgia: amelioration of hypercholesterolemia and fatigue by ubiquinol-10 supplementation. Redox Rep. 2013;18(1):12-9.
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11. Hosoe K, Kitano M, Kishida H, Kubo H, Fujii K, Kitahara M. Study on safety and bioavailability of ubiquinol (Kaneka QH) after single and 4-week multiple oral administration to healthy volunteers. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2007 Feb;47(1):19-28.
12. PubMed, Search CoQ10 human clinical trials. Preformed October 2013.
13. Villalba JM, Parrado C, Santos-Gonzalez M, Alcain FJ. Therapeutic use of coenzyme Q10 and coenzyme Q10-related compounds and formulations. Expert Opin Investig Drugs. 2010 Apr;19(4):535-54.
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17. Sinatra S. What's the Best Form of CoQ10? Last Reviewed 05/07/2013. Accessed online on 28/10/2013.
18. Langsjoen, P. H. and Langsjoen, A. M. (2013), Comparison study of plasma coenzyme Q10 levels in healthy subjects supplemented with ubiquinol versus ubiquinone. Clinical Pharm in Drug Dev. doi: 10.1002/cpdd.73
19. Takeda R, Sawabe A, Nakano R, et al. Effect of various food additives and soy constituents on high CoQ10 absorption. Japanese Journal Medicine Pharmaceutical Science 2011;64(4):614-20.
20. Ochiai A, Itagaki S, Kurokawa T, et al. Improvement in intestinal coenzyme Q10 absorption by food intake. Yakugaku Zasshi 2007;127:1251-4



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