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Not All CoQ10 Products are Equal

Before the discovery of CoQ10 and its introduction as a consumable bionutrient, the only way to gain a significant exogenous source was a diet high in animal protein. Today there are more than one-hundred CoQ10 products available to the consumers in the USA. However, these products are not equal relative to their physical characteristics, absorption, and health benefits.

The CoQ10 in the foods we eat is in single molecule form whereas those in most commercial CoQ10 products are in a crystalline form. The manufactures of CoQ10 dry the liquid CoQ10 to form crystals in a purification process. The pure (99.8%) crystalline CoQ10 is very stable and can be stored for extended intervals without a loss of purity.  Unfortunately, little of the CoQ10 crystals ingested are soluble in contents of the intestines and thus they are poorly absorbed. The simple reason for this is that the body can only absorb single molecules of any substance in its simples form, and the physical fact that very little of the crystalline CoQ10 will not dissolve to absorbable single molecules in the contents of the intestines at body temperature.  Before exogenous CoQ10 can be absorbed and transported from the blood into body cells it first has to have a physical character change before being absorbed by the cells in the small intestines.  To be absorbed the CoQ10 must be in single molecules dissolved in a lipid along with a lipid carrier molecule to facillate the simple diffusion absorption process.


      Clinical studies in Heart Failure, Parkinson’s and other age related degenerative diseases have shown that an effective blood levels in the range of 3.5 to 4.5 ug/ml has to be achieved before adequate CoQ10 can be delivered to the cell for  clinical benefits.  Many of the CoQ10 product forms given in reasonable doses are not able to achieve effective blood levels due to the poor absorption of crystalline products. This is the reasons for the 500 to 2000mg capsules currently available in the market place. The single dose absorption characteristics of different CoQ10 product forms are presented in Table I.

   The data in this table show that there are significant absorption differences between CoQ10 product types. The Δ CMAX, Percent Absorption at CMAX and the AUC (0-CMAX) are indicators of absorption kinetics.  Those products (1-3) in which the CoQ10 crystals have not been dissolved in a lipid solvent have absorption at CMAX of one percent or less of the ingested dose. Those product types (4-7) in which the CoQ10 crystals are suspended in oil or water as liposomes, micelles or nana-particles have peak absorptions at CMAX between 2.05 and 2.45 percent.  The Dissolved and Crystal Free CoQ10 product types (8-9) in oil have the highest percent absorption (3.8 and 8.0 percent respectively).  Note that the Crystal Free CoQ10 products are the only ones that can raise the plasma blood to the levels for clinical efficacy. When these data are expressed as a percent of the Dry Powder standard data (relative absorption) the relationships between the various products can be summarized as shown in figures 1 (Percent Absorption Differences).

The average normal individual required about 3.4 mg of CoQ10 per day. Many reports suggest that older individuals with age related degenerative disease and performance athletes require as much a 5 mg/day. For these reasons the clinical community using CoQ10 to manage Parkinson’s and Huntington’s disease, Heart Failure and other low energy conditions involving skeletal muscle are recommending daily doses in excess on  0.5 t0 3.0 grams per day.  It appears that the blood level of CoQ10 has to be greater than 3.2 µg/ml before adequate amounts can be transported to the cellular level.  Few CoQ10 products can do this at dosages of 100mg/day (Table I). The Crystal Free products ingested at a 100 mg dosage daily easily raise plasma CoQ10   levels to above 3.4  µg/ml. This is due to their high absorption compared to other product types as shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1: Different CoQ10 product type absorption at Cmax compared to the Dry Powder CoQ10 standard. Note that the crystal free single molecules in a lipid solvent base have the highest relative absorption above that of the Dry Powder standard.


   Since the Crystal Free product type absorption is greater, the bioavailability of in blood should far exceed those of other product types as shown in Table I.

 This survey and analysis of the peak absorption kinetics of different CoQ10 product types show that the new Crystal Free CoQ10 products have a significantly greater absorption compared to other commercial product forms.  Again, the reason for this is that this product type consists of single CoQ10 molecules dissolved in a lipid and encapsulated with a lipid carrier molecule that enhances the absorption of the CoQ10 molecules.  The Crystal Free CoQ10 products have a definite absorption advantage over other products.  One is that they do not recrystalize in the softgel capsule.  The other advantage to the marketers and the consumers are lower dosages requirements and reduced cost. 

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