Coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone or CoQ10, is a vitamin-like substance found in the bodies of almost all life forms. CoQ10 is found primarily within mitochondria, the power plants of the cell, where it is a vital part of the energy production process and also acts as a free radical neutralizing antioxidant.
Natural production of CoQ10 can decrease with age, illness and lifestyle factors like diet and smoking. When CoQ10 levels diminish, we tend to see poorly functioning mitochondria and increased free radical damage which is now known to contribute to a whole host of health issues.
Since we know that CoQ10 levels can decline in aging and with poor health, why don’t we try and increase them?
Actually people have been trying, it just hasn’t worked particularly well. CoQ10 supplements have been widely available for many years, however, the research has shown us that supplementing with standard CoQ10 just isn’t as effective as hoped. Although some benefits have been noted in scientific studies, the overwhelming body of evidence is just not particularly strong for many of the conditions it is claimed to help. This is mainly down to one important factor.
CoQ10 is poorly absorbed
CoQ10 is a fairly large fat-soluble molecule which needs to be taken with foods containing oil or fat. Only a very small amount of CoQ10 actually makes it inside our mitochondria due to their impermeable membranes. That includes the active form of CoQ10 ubiquinol which is quickly oxidized back into ubiquinone (inactive form of CoQ10) inside the body. Yet the mitochondria is the very place you need CoQ10 to target in order for levels to be supported.
The real breakthrough was discovered in New Zealand by two biochemists in the late 1990s. They realized that because mitochondria have a significant negative charge compared to the rest of the cell, attaching the right positively charged molecule to CoQ10 should finally solve the absorption problem. After years of experimenting with different molecules, they found the optimal formulation and 'MitoQ' was born.
This mitochondria-targeting of CoQ10 worked amazingly well, with high levels of the MitoQ molecules finding their way into the mitochondria. It is so effective that the dose can be reduced to ten times less than the normal CoQ10 dose yet still provide a significantly high amount of this advanced form of CoQ10 directly into the mitochondria. Additionally, once it neutralizes a free radical, MitoQ is recycled back to its active form allowing it to perform this task over and over again.
Here are some of the benefits you may see by investing in your mitochondrial health with MitoQ:
- Sustains your body’s optimal energy production
- Supports normal blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels
- Sustains healthy energy production in muscles, joints and other connective tissues, helping you stay strong and fit for longer and recover from physical exercise faster, and potentially reducing the risk of injury
- Maintains healthy liver and kidney function leading to normal metabolic function
- Healthy brain and nervous system function are supported, helping to sustain mental clarity and alertness as you age
- Supports balanced immune and allergic pathways which can help to normalize the potentially damaging effects of the body’s natural responses to both harmful and normal aggressors
- Helps with the reduction of oxidative stress from both internal and environmental sources, which can lead to healthier aging of the skin
MitoQ has shown significant promise in over 50 different models of health conditions including seven of the top ten most costly to human life. Over 500+ peer review research papers have now been published.
In this video, Integrative Nutritionist Kaytee Boyd and MitoQ's Chief Scientific Officer Will Stow discuss some of the key differences between CoQ10 and MitoQ.
MitoQ is better, faster and stronger than CoQ10
Research shows that MitoQ has:
Better absorption in cells
CoQ10: Due to its low bioavailability, CoQ10 has poor absorption into the cells. It is not water soluble so absorption into the bloodstream is poor and slow. In order to aid absorption, it is recommended that regular CoQ10 is taken with fatty food.
MitoQ: Has excellent absorption with very high bioavailability. The MitoQ molecule is water soluble, with a positive charge. This means that it is drawn to the mitochondria's strong negative charge and actively drawn inside the mitochondria. It does not need to be taken with food.
Faster to reach peak concentration
CoQ10: Is relatively slow to reach peak concentration.
MitoQ: Is quick to reach peak concentrations in the body due to its positive charge, size and water solubility. It readily passes through biological membranes including the blood-brain barrier.
Stronger, more potent than CoQ10
CoQ10: To overcome poor absorption and low bioavailability, a much larger dose of regular CoQ10 is required. Therefore, you often see recommended doses of around 100 – 200 mg.
MitoQ: As MitoQ is rapidly and extensively taken up inside mitochondria by an active process, a very small dose is required due to excellent absorption and bioavailability (10mg).
MitoQ AND CoQ10, should you be taking both?
Yes, if you are taking statins.
Statins are often prescribed by doctors to help lower cholesterol levels in the blood. Unfortunately, some people who take statins can experience negative side effects such as muscle pain, nausea and organ damage, and even increased blood sugar.
The naturally produced antioxidant Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) works in your mitochondria to help reduce these side effects. However, taking statins is known to decrease the level of antioxidant CoQ10 available in your body. When your body starts to deplete in CoQ10, the side effects caused by statins increases, and your risk of developing other health issues also increases.
Maintaining healthy mitochondria in your cells, supports you in the fight against the negative side effects of statins. Supplementing with a CoQ10 is therefore recommended by some health professionals for people who take statins.
We recommend taking MitoQ to help balance the oxidative damage that statins can cause, and a regular CoQ10 supplement to boost blood levels of CoQ10.
10mg of MitoQ a day vs the higher doses of regular CoQ10
Why do you recommend only 10mg of MitoQ a day vs the higher doses of regular CoQ10?
Because the mitochondria-targeting properties of MitoQ work amazingly well, MitoQ can still provide significantly high levels of this enhanced form of CoQ10 directly into your mitochondria at such a low dose. Once it neutralizes a free radical, MitoQ is also recycled back to its active form allowing it to perform this task over and over again.
MitoQ is rapidly and actively absorbed from the gut and readily passes through other biological membranes. Once inside the cell, MitoQ molecules are attracted to and transported inside the mitochondria where they are able to reach concentrations up to 1,000 times higher than in the rest of the cell, something that no other CoQ10 formulation comes anywhere close to.
The vastly improved absorption of MitoQ into the mitochondria provides a huge antioxidant boost and helps to enhance energy metabolism in poorly functioning mitochondria. This gives our cells the energy they need to work optimally, and the antioxidant reserves they need to keep free radical numbers in check, making MitoQ the only form of CoQ10 you’ll ever want or need.
So, in summary, here are 7 reasons why MitoQ is better than CoQ10:
- MitoQ is water soluble and has excellent absorption with high bioavailability. CoQ10 is not water soluble and has low bioavailability.
- MitoQ doesn't need to be taken with food unlike CoQ10.
- MitoQ very quickly reaches peak concentrations in the body, unlike CoQ10.
- MitoQ is rapidly and extensively taken up into your mitochondria by an active process, unlike CoQ10 where a very small percentage actually penetrates the mitochondria.
- MitoQ requires very small doses due to excellent absorption and bioavailability (10mg) compared to CoQ10 which requires up to 200mg.
- MitoQ is an effective antioxidant due to superior absorption and rapid recycling back to active form.
MitoQ has widespread and efficient uptake by the body signalling significant potential in improving human health.
Learn more about this amazing antioxidant – CoQ10
The History and Discovery of CoQ10
The discovery of CoQ10 happened with a quick succession of discoveries. The first of these was in 1957 when Dr. Frederick Crane first isolated CoQ10 from the mitochondria of beef heart. In Britain, during that same year, Professor Morton also discovered CoQ10 in the livers of Vitamin A deficient rats. The following year researchers at Merck, Inc. determined its chemical structure and became the first to produce it. It was the Japanese, however, who were the first to perfect the technology necessary to produce CoQ10 in sizeable enough quantities to make large clinical trials a reality.
Then in 1978, Peter Mitchell won a Nobel prize for defining the biological energy transfer that occurs at the cellular level (for which CoQ10 is essential). This caused an increase in the number of clinical studies performed in relation to CoQ10 usefulness. This was due in part to the large amounts of pharmaceutical grade CoQ10 that was now available from Japan and the ability to measure CoQ10 in blood and body tissues.
What is CoQ10?
CoQ10 is an antioxidant that the body produces naturally and stores in components of the cell called mitochondria where it helps generate energy. In its active form, it’s called ubiquinol. CoQ10 is also known as Coenzyme Q, CoQ, Coenzyme Q10, Ubiquinone-Q10, Ubidecarenone, or Vitamin Q10.
Coenzyme Q can be distinguished by the number of isoprenoid side-chains they have. The most common Coenzyme Q in human mitochondria is CoQ10. Q refers to the quinone head and 10 refers to the number of isoprene repeats in the tail. While CoQ10 is found in all human tissues, its level is variable. The level of CoQ10 is the highest in organs with the highest energy demands such as the heart, kidney, and liver, where it functions as an energy transfer molecule.
CoQ10 is a highly active antioxidant that helps protect healthy cells and if CoQ10 levels are not sufficient then damage starts to occur. This has a flow on effect within the body and we start to notice a change. Low amounts of CoQ10 can lead to a loss of strength, vitality, and even pain, particularly in the muscles and vital organs like the heart.
If we make CoQ10 naturally in the body, then how do we become deficient?
There are several potential causes of CoQ10 deficiency. A few of the main causes include:
The most common cause of low CoQ10 levels is age. The amount of CoQ10 produced by your body decreases as you get older.
Several prescription medications can interfere with the production of CoQ10. These include:
- Statins used to treat high cholesterol levels
- Beta-blockers used to manage high blood pressure
- Some antidepressants
Some highly active individuals, such as endurance athletes of bodybuilders, may have such high energy needs that their bodies simply can’t produce enough CoQ10 to keep up.
Although rare, there are genetic conditions that prevent some people from making enough CoQ10 for normal cellular functioning.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can impact the production of CoQ10. A varied diet rich in vitamins and minerals is needed for the body to make CoQ10.
Natural Food sources of CoQ10
Foods are not typically great sources of CoQ10. People can obtain CoQ10 by eating certain meat and vegetable proteins, but the quantity present in these foods is too small to increase CoQ10 levels in the body significantly. In the developed world, the estimated daily intake of CoQ10 has been determined at 3–6 mg per day, derived primarily from meat.
Foods with the highest amounts of CoQ10 include:
Meat and poultry:
Beef and chicken are some of the richest sources of CoQ10. In particular organ meats such as heart, liver and kidney.
Because CoQ10 is fat soluble, requiring fat for absorption and storage, generally the more fat in the fish, the more CoQ10 you'll get. Try salmon, trout, herring, mackerel or sardines.
Fruits and Vegetables:
Plant based CoQ10 does exist but at much lower levels than meat, poultry or fish. The best sources are spinach, cauliflower, broccoli, oranges and strawberries.
Legumes, nuts and seeds:
Peanuts are one of the heartiest plant sources of CoQ10, but others include soybeans, lentils, sesame seeds and pistachios.
As the body ages, natural amounts of CoQ10 drop significantly, as will the body’s ability to absorb this vital nutrient-like coenzyme. While CoQ10 is available in certain foods (see above), it’s not easy to get enough of this nutrient from what you eat. Most foods contain very small amounts of CoQ10, and if you don’t want to live off organ meats and peanuts, you’ll need to turn to supplements to get the CoQ10 your body needs.
While there is currently no recommended daily intake of CoQ10, suggested dosages can range from 50 milligrams up to 1,200 milligrams. Research suggests between 100 – 200 milligrams is adequate to support natural levels, a long way from the 3-6 mgs most people are getting from food sources. Of course, it is recommended to talk to a doctor or health professional before starting any new supplements. However due to its significantly high levels of absorbability into mitochondria, MitoQ’s recommended daily dose of 10mg is sufficient.
CoQ10 for athletes
Athletes are always looking for ways to improve their performance and there is growing evidence that CoQ10 can help. Because of CoQ10’s role in generating energy, supplemental amounts might give a performance edge.
When athletes train, their bodies increase the number of mitochondria, the energy producing component of the cell, in the heart and in muscles. Because the body is in such high need of energy during physical activity, CoQ10 can get used up rather quickly if not present in adequate amounts. In fact, it’s fairly common for trained athletes to have lower amounts of CoQ10 because of the huge demand during exercise.
Studies that looked at both athletically untrained and well-trained individuals reported mixed results regarding the effect of CoQ10 on physical performance. Some studies showed an increase in exercise capacity and oxygen consumption. This recent study demonstrated CoQ10 can increase the duration of exercise to exhaustion in healthy untrained and trained individuals. This might help an athlete—or even a weekend warrior—increase endurance, work harder or longer at their chosen activity.
CoQ10 is a vital antioxidant that is present in almost every cell in the human body and while we naturally produce CoQ10, our production of this antioxidant declines with age. Even if we include a lot of CoQ10 food sources in our diet, it’s almost impossible to reach the levels suggested to support cellular health. Taking a CoQ10 supplement is an easy way to support these levels, but you want to make sure it’s going to deliver high amounts into where your body needs it most – the mitochondria.
If you are going to take a CoQ10-supporting supplement, you might as well take the best.
Reviewed by William Stow/ BSc (Hons), MitoQ Chief Science Officer