Ubiquinol is the reduced form of CoQ10 and serves as a powerful antioxidant in the body. It has some unique health benefits and is absorbed much better than the oxidized form of CoQ10, ubiquinone. Read on to learn why you may want to supplement with ubiquinol and how much you should take.
What is Ubiquinol?
Ubiquinol is the reduced form of coenzyme Q10. CoQ10 is a compound that your mitochondria need to make energy. It’s also a strong antioxidant that protects cell membranes and keeps them stable, while helping prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing .
You naturally produce ubiquinol, which supplies about half of your body’s needs. The other half comes from the foods you eat. Meat (especially the heart), fish, and shellfish are excellent sources of ubiquinol. It’s also found in eggs, dairy, and vegetables, but in much lower quantities [2, 3, 4, 3, 4, 5].
Organs with the highest energy demand in your body have the highest levels of CoQ10. These include the heart, brain, kidneys, muscle, and liver–all of which contain many mitochondria and use a vast amount of energy .
Low CoQ10 levels can be caused by many different diseases and conditions as well as nutrient deficiencies. In these cases, the body’s ability to make CoQ10 is impaired or CoQ10 is used up faster than it can be replaced, requiring supplementation .
CoQ10 is commonly supplemented to help improve diseases that involve mitochondrial dysfunction and increased oxidative stress such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and diabetes. Supplementation may also be beneficial for people with heart disease, including those with heart failure .
The company Kaneka North America, LLC is the only producer of ubiquinol in the world. Their manufacturing process is patented, while the final product is fermented from yeast and bioidentical to the ubiquinol made in the human body.
Ubiquinol vs Ubiquinone
CoQ10 is mainly found in two forms in the body: ubiquinone and ubiquinol. Ubiquinone is the oxidized version in the body that is recycled (reduced) back into ubiquinol. Ubiquinol is primarily responsible for the antioxidant benefits of CoQ10 [6, 7].
Ubiquinol and ubiquinone work together in the mitochondria to shuttle electrons and help generate energy in the form of ATP .
Between 90% and 98% of the total CoQ10 in the blood is in the form of ubiquinol, with only a small percentage found as ubiquinone. Both forms are carried around the body by LDL and HDL. The ratio of ubiquinol to ubiquinone declines as you age due to decreased conversion between the two forms and increased oxidative stress [8, 9, 10, 11, 12+].
- High cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Liver diseases including hepatitis and cirrhosis (scarring of the liver)
- Parkinson’s disease
- Cancer (liver, breast, and lung)
Supplementing with ubiquinol can increase this ratio and reduce oxidative stress .
Like ubiquinone, people supplement with ubiquinol to improve heart health, boost energy levels, improve athletic performance, and to increase longevity .
Ubiquinol is preferred to ubiquinone by older adults or by those who have trouble absorbing ubiquinone or converting it into ubiquinol once it’s absorbed. However, because it was only developed recently (2007), ubiquinol does not have as much clinical research backing it as ubiquinone does .
- The most absorbable form of CoQ10
- Increases energy levels
- Has powerful antioxidant benefits
- Improves heart health
- Improves fertility
- Helps with chronic fatigue syndrome
- Poorly absorbed without fat or oil
- More expensive than ubiquinone
- Possible interactions, especially with blood-thinning drugs (warfarin)
Health Benefits of Ubiquinol
The following benefits are based on research specifically concerning supplementation with ubiquinol. In theory, any benefit of ubiquinone should translate into a benefit of ubiquinol as well. You can read more about the benefits of ubiquinone as well as more about CoQ10 overall, in this post.
1) Benefits the Heart
Heart Disease & Heart Failure
The heart is the organ with the highest levels of ubiquinol in the body. Ubiquinol protected the hearts of rats from damages due to low blood supply, similar to what happens during heart attacks .
In heart failure patients, higher levels of a marker called N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide (NT-proBNP) point to more severe symptoms. Higher ubiquinol levels, on the other hand, are associated with lower NT-proBNP levels .
However, those with advanced heart failure are often unable to achieve high enough CoQ10 levels to see a benefit from ubiquinone supplementation (even with doses >900 mg) because they don’t absorb it well. People with advanced heart failure may benefit more from ubiquinol as it is absorbed better than ubiquinone. A study of 7 advanced heart failure patients found that ubiquinol (450 – 900 mg/day) greatly improved heart function and symptoms .
Ubiquinol appears to be especially beneficial in heart failure patients who may have trouble absorbing the oxidized form of CoQ10, ubiquinone.
Additionally, ubiquinol may help children with pediatric dilated cardiomyopathy, a life-threatening condition in which the heart becomes enlarged and is unable to pump blood effectively. Ubiquinol (10 mg/kg daily) improved heart function and reduced fatigue and difficulty breathing with physical activity in children with this condition .
Ubiquinol (600 mg/day) reduced blood pressure in 32 young athletes .
In a study of 53 people, 150 mg/day lowered LDL cholesterol levels by 5%. Small dense LDL levels, the most dangerous subtype of LDL with regard to heart disease, decreased by 33% .
The membrane that surrounds cells contains fats that keep it stable. These fats can become oxidized and damaged, which causes cells to not work as well. CoQ10 is found within the cell membrane where it acts to prevent this oxidative damage .
Ubiquinol is carried around the bloodstream by lipoproteins such as LDL and HDL. LDL is especially prone to becoming oxidized. Oxidized LDL is more dangerous than regular LDL and is closely involved in plaque formation and hardening of the arteries. CoQ10 helps prevent LDL from becoming oxidized more effectively than the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin E [32+, 33, 34, 35].
Intense exercise increases oxidative stress, which depletes CoQ10. In athletes performing strenuous exercise, ubiquinol prevented the decline in CoQ10 levels, increased antioxidants in the blood, and lowered oxidative stress in immune cells .
GGT (gamma glutamyltransferase) is an enzyme that increases with excessive inflammation and oxidative stress, particularly in liver and gallbladder diseases. People with higher GGTs levels have higher CoQ10 levels because they are under increased oxidative stress. Supplementing with ubiquinol decreased GGT levels by 13% in a 14-day study of 53 people .
Many of ubiquinol’s benefits are likely due to its powerful antioxidant effects and its ability to reduce the oxidative stress that underlies diverse diseases and conditions.
3) Improves Fertility
Male fertility is determined by the number (count) and quality (motility and morphology) of the sperm. Sperm cells rely on CoQ10 for the energy needed to move and for its antioxidant protection .
In a study of 228 men with infertility, 200 mg/day ubiquinol improved sperm count and quality after 26 weeks. Another study of 60 infertile men found that 150mg/day increased sperm motility and count (55% increase) [41, 42].
Due to its key role in keeping sperm cells healthy, ubiquinol may improve fertility in men.
4) Helps with Type 2 Diabetes
Overall, it may be effective in reducing long-term glucose levels in diabetics.
5) Improves Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
People with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) often have low CoQ10 levels, which may explain the lack of energy they constantly experience.
6) Improves Symptoms of Fibromyalgia
7) Improves Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
People with Parkinson’s disease often have reduced levels of CoQ10 in their mitochondria .
A 14-week study in 64 people found that taking 300 mg/day ubiquinol improved symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. However, ubiquinol was only effective in those in the more advanced stages of the disease and had no effect on those in the early stages .
8) May Help with Autism
Autism is often accompanied by increased oxidative stress and inflammation. In 24 autistic children, supplementing with 100 mg/day ubiquinol improved their ability to communicate with their parents and play games with other children, improved their sleep quality, and reduced their tendency to reject foods [48, 49].
9) Helps With Dry Mouth
Dry mouth is thought to be caused in part by reduced ATP saliva production. Supplementing with ubiquinol increased saliva production in a study of 66 people with dry mouth [50+].
10) Athletic Performance
In Olympic athletes, ubiquinol (300 mg/day) improved physical performance after 6 weeks .
Another study in 15 healthy active people found that ubiquinol did not improve the athletic performance of the group as a whole. However, further analysis revealed specific improvements in some people: 4 people were able to run significantly longer on the treadmill and 6 people were able to pedal harder on the bike .
In mice, ubiquinol increased the length of time they could run until exhaustion by 15% .
11) Protects the Liver
Statins reduce the production of CoQ10, leading to lower levels in the blood. Liver toxicity is a rare yet serious side effect of statins. The mechanism is still unclear but a deficiency of CoQ10 has been suggested. In a cell study, statins reduced CoQ10 levels in liver cells and caused cell death. In a 12-week study of 20 people taking statins, 150 mg/day of ubiquinol reduced liver enzymes and other markers of liver damage [53, 54, 55].
12) Improves Amenorrhea
Amenorrhea is a lack of menstruation in women of reproductive age–usually defined as missing at least three periods in a row. It may be caused by low reproductive hormone levels, including follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). In women with amenorrhea, 150 mg/day Ubiquinol increased FSH and LH levels .
13) Improves Antiphospholipid Syndrome
Antiphospholipid syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that greatly increases the risk of blood clots and pregnancy-related complications. CoQ10 reduces clotting factors and inflammation in patients with this syndrome .
14) Improves Familial Multiple System Atrophy
Familial multiple system atrophy is a rare fatal genetic disorder that causes the destruction of neurons. High doses (1,200 mg/day) of ubiquinol halted the progression of the disease for over 3 years in a patient in advanced stages of the disorder .
Benefits with Limited Evidence
The following studies were conducted only on animals and/or cells.
Chronically high blood sugar levels can damage the kidneys. CoQ10 helps protect the kidneys from high blood sugar levels and improves their function in diabetic mice .
Cyclosporine is a drug used to prevent the body from rejecting organ transplants that can also cause kidney damage. Ubiquinol prevented kidney damage and a decline in kidney function from cyclosporine in mice .
Ubiquinol protected eye cells in mice from the effects of high pressure (glaucoma) and helped prevent cell death .
18) Wound Healing
Applying ubiquinol topically after tooth extraction improved wound healing in rats .
19) Muscle Growth
Ubiquinol is found in high concentrations in tissue that require a lot of energy, such as the muscles. As a supplement, it increased muscle mass in the calves in mice .
20) Alzheimer’s Disease & Brain Protection
Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by beta-amyloid plaques and tau proteins in the brain. In mice with Alzheimer’s, ubiquinol reduced beta-amyloid plaques as well as oxidative stress. It also improved blood vessel health in the brain .
Although lifelong supplementation with ubiquinol didn’t extend lifespan in mice, it did improve symptoms of aging such as reduced activity, worsening eyesight, poor skin health, and abnormal curvature of the spine. Ubiquinol activates genes that help slow the rate of aging and prevent some symptoms of age-related diseases [71, 72].
Muscle Pain and Poor Mitochondrial Function Caused By Statins
Although ubiquinone reduces muscle pain caused by statins, one study found that ubiquinol (600 mg/day) had no effect .
Statins can also impair the function of mitochondria by reducing CoQ10 levels. Ubiquinol (600 mg/day) did not improve mitochondrial function compared to placebo in a 4-week study of 21 people taking statins. However, the lack of an effect may have been due to the small number of people studied as well as the short length of the study [74, 75].
Side Effects & Precautions
Ubiquinol is generally very well-tolerated. Side effects are mild and include :
- Upset stomach
- Loss of appetite
Ubiquinol is processed by the liver and eliminated through bile. This means people with poor liver function or blocked bile ducts who supplement with ubiquinol may accumulate high levels in their body, increasing the risk of side effects .
CoQ10 increases the rate at which warfarin is removed from the body [79+].
Let your doctor know if you’re taking warfarin and plan on supplementing with CoQ10 as well.
Blood Pressure-Lowering Drugs
Blood Sugar-Lowering Drugs
Theophylline (Elixophylline, Theochron)
CoQ10 increased the time it took the drug theophylline (used to treat asthma and COPD) to reach peak blood levels in rats. People taking theophylline should consult their doctor before supplementing with CoQ10 .
P-glycoprotein is a protein that pumps foreign substances – including supplemental CoQ10 – out of cells. It is inhibited by certain drugs including digoxin (for heart failure) and quinidine (for irregular heartbeat). In a cell study, CoQ10 absorption was improved when the drugs digoxin (Digox) and quinidine (Quinidex) were added [88+].
Like ubiquinone, ubiquinol is fat-soluble, meaning it is best absorbed when taken with a meal that contains oils or fats. Taking vitamin C and vitamin E at the same time as ubiquinol may reduce its absorption [1, 92, 93+].
A cell study found that grapefruit juice increased the absorption of CoQ10 in gut cells .
Check for Kaneka’s logo and trademark (Kaneka QH™) when purchasing ubiquinol supplements from various brands to ensure high quality.
People who supplement with ubiquinol report increased energy levels as well as improved recovery from workouts. Many people who don’t respond to ubiquinone see results with ubiquinol. Reported side effects include itchiness, rash, and headache.
Ubiquinol is the reduced form of CoQ10, which means it has extra electrons that it can use to neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. Because of this, it is the form that is responsible for the antioxidant benefits seen from CoQ10 supplementation.
Your body is constantly converting the oxidized form, ubiquinone, into ubiquinol to help protect cells and LDL from oxidation.
Similar to the oxidized version of CoQ10, ubiquinol helps improve heart failure and other heart diseases, chronic fatigue syndrome, and fibromyalgia. It also helps reduce high blood sugar and improves symptoms of autism.
Ubiquinol is absorbed much better than ubiquinone. This means that less is needed to achieve similar blood levels. It is also more efficient to take ubiquinol because it is already reduced, unlike ubiquinone that your body has to convert. This makes it the ideal choice for older adults who don’t convert CoQ10 as well. Like ubiquinone, ubiquinol is better absorbed with fats or oils.