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, a compound that 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 .
The body naturally produces ubiquinol, which supplies about half of the needs. The other half comes from food. 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, 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 conditions and 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, diabetes, and heart disease .
- A more active form of CoQ10
- Has powerful antioxidant benefits
- Improves heart health
- Reduces fatigue
- Improves fertility
- Poorly absorbed without fat or oil
- More expensive than ubiquinone
- Possible interactions, especially with blood thinners
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].
Other factors can reduce the ubiquinol to ubiquinone ratio, including the following [13, 14, 15, 16]:
- High cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Liver diseases
- 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 by older adults or by those who have trouble absorbing ubiquinone or converting it into ubiquinol. However, because it was recently developed (2007), ubiquinol does not have as much clinical research backing it as ubiquinone does .
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) Oxidative Stress
Ubiquinol is mostly responsible for the strong antioxidant benefits of CoQ10, and it protects cellular and mitochondrial membranes [19, 1, 7].
What’s more, it boosts other important antioxidant enzymes, including [20, 21]:
- Glutathione peroxidase
- Superoxide dismutase
It also helps to regenerate vitamins E and C and restore their antioxidant potential [2, 22].
Ubiquinol is carried around the bloodstream by lipoproteins such as LDL and HDL. Oxidized LDL is more dangerous than regular LDL and is closely involved in atherosclerosis. CoQ10 helps prevent LDL from becoming oxidized more effectively than the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin E [23, 24, 25, 26].
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 .
Oxidative stress can also damage DNA, leading to mutations that may cause cancer. In a study of 28 people, ubiquinol reduced markers of DNA damage due to oxidative stress [28, 29].
GGT (gamma-glutamyl transferase) is an enzyme that increases with excessive inflammation and oxidative stress, particularly in liver and gallbladder diseases. 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.
2) Heart Disease
The heart is the organ with the highest levels of ubiquinol in the body. 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 .
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 .
In a study of 62 heart failure patients, a combination of ubiquinol (270 mg) and L-carnitine (2,250 mg) reduced inflammation, improved symptoms of the disease and their quality of life .
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 protected the hearts of rats from damage due to low blood supply, similar to what happens during heart attacks .
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% .
Another study of 10 fibromyalgia patients found that ubiquinol reduced high total cholesterol levels .
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) [40, 41].
Due to its key role in keeping sperm cells healthy, ubiquinol may improve fertility in men.
4) Type 2 Diabetes
In a study of 50 type 2 diabetics, ubiquinol reduced levels of HbA1c – a measure of long-term blood sugar levels – as well as oxidative stress .
It reduced HbA1c levels by 5% and improved insulin resistance in another study of 9 type 2 diabetics .
CoQ significantly reduced blood sugar in two meta-analyses of 32 trials. Ubiquinol likely has the same effect, but further research is needed to confirm this [44, 45].
5) Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
People with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) often have low CoQ10 levels, which may explain the lack of energy they constantly experience.
In two studies of 63 people with CFS, taking ubiquinol for 8 weeks improved mental function, mood, energy levels, and sleep quality .
6) Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Ubiquinol levels are lower in people with fibromyalgia. In a trial of 77 children, supplementation with ubiquinol reduced high cholesterol levels and improved fatigue due to fibromyalgia .
No valid clinical evidence supports the use of ubiquinol for any of the conditions in this section. Below is a summary of up-to-date animal studies, cell-based research, or low-quality clinical trials which should spark further investigation. However, you shouldn’t interpret them as supportive of any health benefit.
7) 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) Developmental Disorders
Developmental disorders such as autism are 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 food. The study lacked a control group, which makes the results questionable [49, 50].
9) 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 .
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) Liver Protection
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 [54, 55].
In a 12-week study of 20 people taking statins, 150 mg/day of ubiquinol reduced liver enzymes and other markers of liver damage .
CoQ10 decreased liver enzymes (AST and GGT) and markers of inflammation in a 12-week study of 41 people with this non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) .
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) Antiphospholipid Syndrome
Antiphospholipid syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that greatly increases the risk of blood clots and pregnancy-related complications. Ubiquinol significantly reduced clotting factors and inflammation in 36 patients with this syndrome .
Animal and Cellular Research (Lacking Evidence)
No clinical evidence supports the use of Ubiquinol for any of the conditions listed in this section. Below is a summary of the existing animal and cell-based studies; they should guide further investigational efforts but should not be interpreted as supportive of any health benefit.
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 .
Applying ubiquinol topically after tooth extraction improved wound healing in rats .
Ubiquinol is found in high concentrations in tissues that require a lot of energy, such as the muscles. As a supplement, it increased muscle mass in the calves in mice .
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 .
Ubiquinol reduces the severity of brain injuries and protects mitochondria from damage and cell death in rats-both when given before or after the brain trauma [66, 67].
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 [68, 69].
Statin-Induced Muscle Pain and Poor Mitochondrial Function
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. 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 [71, 72].
Ubiquinol Side Effects & Precautions
This list does not cover all possible side effects. Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you notice any other side effects. In the US, you may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch. In Canada, you may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Ubiquinol is generally safe and well-tolerated. Potential side effects are mild and include :
- Upset stomach
- Loss of appetite
It 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 .
Supplement-drug interactions can be dangerous and, in rare cases, even life-threatening. Always consult your doctor before supplementing and let them know about all drugs and supplements you are using or considering.
Ubiquinol is structurally similar to vitamin K, which has blood-clotting effects and can interfere with the effectiveness of warfarin [1, 74].
There have been multiple case reports of CoQ10 reducing the effectiveness of warfarin [75, 76, 77].
Blood Pressure-Lowering Drugs
CoQ10 can reduce blood pressure. The combination with blood pressure-lowering drugs may lead to very low blood pressure [78, 79, 80, 81].
Blood Sugar-Lowering Drugs
CoQ10 can reduce blood sugar levels. The combination with blood sugar-lowering drugs may further lower blood sugar [45, 44].
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 .
Ubiquinol Dosage & Supplements
The below doses may not apply to you personally. If your doctor suggests using ubiquinol, work with them to find the optimal dosage according to your health condition and other factors.
Ubiquinol is up to 70% more effective in raising CoQ10 levels in the blood than ubiquinone, so less may be needed to achieve the same effect [18, 83, 84, 85].
Most studies use between 50-200 mg daily, divided into two doses. Doses of up to 600 mg/day for up to 8 weeks are likely safe [70, 72].
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, 86, 87].
The company Kaneka North America, LLC is the only producer of ubiquinol in the world with a patented manufacturing process. Check for Kaneka’s logo and trademark (Kaneka QH™) when purchasing ubiquinol supplements from various brands to ensure high quality.
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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 more antioxidant power. It is the form mostly responsible for the antioxidant benefits seen from CoQ10 supplementation. Ubiquinol is absorbed much better than ubiquinone, and it’s more potent, but it’s not yet fully researched.
Similar to the oxidized version of CoQ10, ubiquinol may help with heart disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, diabetes, and infertility. There is insufficient evidence for Parkinson’s disease, athletic performance, and liver protection.
Like coenzyme Q10, ubiquinol is better absorbed with fats or oils. The effective doses in clinical studies ranged from 50-200 mg daily. Due to potential drug interactions and unknown long-term safety, make sure to consult with your doctor before supplementing.