Q10 (ubiquinone, ubiquinol)
Q10 is a lipid-soluble coenzyme that is found in all the body's cells, except for the red blood cells. Carbohydrate, fat, and protein get converted into energy by means of Q10 and the oxygen we breathe. This process takes place inside the small, cellular power stations called mitochondria. To begin with, Q10 contributes to storing the energy in a chemical form called ATP (adenosine triphosphate). After that, Q10 makes sure that the energy is released in step with the shifting energy requirement of the cells.
Heart, brain, muscle, liver, kidney, and sperm cells contain particularly many mitochondria and large amounts of Q10, as they are highly dependent on energy. Q10 also functions as an antioxidant that protects cells and their mitochondria against DNA damage. We human produce most of the Q10 we need but this ability deteriorated with increasing age.
Functions and importance for
- Energy metabolism
- Heart and cardiovascular system
- Immune defence
Deficiencies and poor utilisation may be caused by
- Old age
- Chronic diseases
- Reduced absorption from the intestine
- Lacking ability to convert Q10 from the diet
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs
Not fully determined but may include:
- Lack of energy, fatigue
- Heart failure
- Angina pectoris (chest pain)
- Elevated blood pressure
The heart, cardiovascular disease, and heart failure
Measurements reveal that Q10 levels in the heart tend to fall with increasing age. In addition, science has demonstrated that supplementation with Q10 may prevent and even treat heart disease. The Swedish cardiologists who conducted the KiSel-10 study demonstrated that daily supplementation with 200 milligrams of Q10 combined with 200 micrograms of selenium lowered the rate of heart-related mortality by over 50% among healthy male and female seniors compared with the control group (that got placebo).
The international Q-SYMBIO study where participants got 300 mg of Q10 daily demonstrated that Q10 has a positive effect on heart failure patients. There were 43% fewer heart-related mortalities among the Q10-treated patients compared with the control group, and there was a significant improvement of heart muscle function.
In patients with severe heart failure, Q10 supplementation seems to have an effect by increasing the amount of ATP, whereby the heart muscle's contractile strength increases. There may also be an effect on angina pain. Good results have been observed in several studies where heart patients typically receive daily doses of around 200-400 mg of Q10.
Elevated blood pressure and diabetes
Several human studies show that Q10 supplementation (200 mg/day) has a positive effect on hypertension. In people with type 2 diabetes, Q10 has also been seen to lower blood sugar levels and improve blood vessel dilation.
Q10 supplementation has been shown to have a positive effect. However, there are many causes of these ailments.
Cholesterol is an essential substance for all cells, for the production of sex hormones, vitamin D etc. The body produces most of the Q10 we need, typically from carbohydrate. Cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins) work by blocking the enzyme HMG-CoA. This enzyme is involved in the biochemical pathway that produces both cholesterol and Q10, so by blocking the enzyme statins not only inhibit the production of cholesterol but also Q10. A Danish study that is published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology shows that 40% of the patients who take statins experience side effects such as muscle pain, and as many as 75% of active athletes experience this problem. In addition, the scientists have observed impaired glucose tolerance and reduced insulin sensitivity as a result of statin use. Several studies have shown that supplementing with 100 mg of Q10 daily may reduce some of the side effects. In one study, statin users who took Q10 with their medicine reduced their muscle pain by 40% as a result of including Q10 in their daily regimen.
Q10 supplementation may delay and perhaps even stop the disease. This is of great importance, as patients suffering from periodontal disease are at increased risk of cardiovascular diseases that occur when bacteria migrate from the oral cavity to the heart muscle by way of the bloodstream.
Meat and organ meat in particular, for instance heart and liver. Also found in plant oils, oily fish, broccoli, whole-grain, and nuts. The average diet is believed to provide around 2-6 mg of Q10 daily. Our own production of Q10 is by far the most substantial source.
Q10 content in mg per kg.
Recommended daily allowance (RDA)
There is no official recommendation for Q10
Non-approved indications include:
- Old age
- Unnatural fatigue
- Cardiovascular ailments
- Elevated blood pressure
- Weak heart and irregular heart rate
- Weak immune defence
- Periodontal disease
- Impaired sperm quality
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs (statins)
Different forms of Q10
Q10 belongs to a group of coenzymes called ubiquinone. The name is derived from ubique, which means "omnipresent" in Latin. Ubiquinone is found in nearly all cells and occurs in different biochemical forms.
There are two main forms of Q10:
Oxidised Q10 that is particularly important for the body's energy turnover. Ubiquinone is yellowish.
Non-oxidised and reduced form of Q10 that primarily functions as an antioxidant. Ubiquinol has a milky white colour
The Q10 that we get from food is in its oxidised form (ubiquinone). Dietary Q10 and Q10 from supplements is absorbed in the intestinal lymphatic system. As soon as Q10 passes through the intestinal wall, Q10 becomes reduced, where ubiquinone is enzymatically converted into ubiquinol. Afterwards, the reduced Q10 is carried with the lymph into the bloodstream. During its transport, Q10 is bound to its chemical relative, LDL cholesterol. Q10 also functions as an important antioxidant in blood and lymph. Inside the body's cells (in the mitochondria), ubiquinol and ubiquinone interchange in a continuous process.
Most humans can easily convert ubiquinone to ubiquinol in their intestinal system. The few who are unable to carry out this conversion may benefit from taking ubiquinol supplements instead of ubiquinone.
Supplements and quality
Q10 is a lipid-soluble molecule. No matter which technology is used during the manufacturing of supplements, Q10 molecules will always be lipid-soluble.
Q10 molecules tend to aggregate in crystalline formations in various types of Q10 raw materials and supplements. The crystals are not able to dissolve at normal body temperature, unless they have been exposed to a special heat treatment.
The quality of a Q10 preparation is a determining factor for the uptake (absorption) and the utilisation of the active ingredient. Most individuals can easily utilise Q10 supplements in the form of ubiquinone, as both forms of Q10 (ubiquinone and ubiquinol) are easily converted back and forth, once they have passed through the intestinal membrane. In fact, the majority of scientific studies that have been published are conducted with ubiquinone supplements.
Because Q10 stimulates the body's energy turnover it is normally recommended to take supplements in the morning or no later than lunchtime (in order to avoid sleep problems).
Overdosing - side effects
Q10 is a very safe substance and supplements can be taken for extended periods of time without the risk of influencing the body's endogenous production of the compound. Very rare cases of nausea, headaches, and abdominal pain have been reported with daily dosages of 100-200 mg.
Q10 may inhibit the effect of blood-thinning medication such as warfarin and dicoumarol.
Therefore, people who take this type of medication should not take Q10 without discussing it with a physician first.