CoQ10 is a familiar name to anyone who frequently browses supplements at their local pharmacy. Just because it is familiar doesn’t mean its uses are obvious, especially because it has an unfriendly chemical name. CoQ10 stands for Coenzyme Q10. Coenzymes are chemicals that assist enzymes in doing their work. They initiate or enhance chemical processes that involve enzymes. In the case of CoQ10, the processes it enables have to do with the creation of energy inside the body.
In order to do its work, CoQ10 actually goes through a set of small chemical changes, resulting in multiple forms of CoQ10 existing in the body. The most familiar form is ubiquinone. This is the version of CoQ10 that has been available in supplement form for many years. It is the “fully oxidized” form of CoQ10, meaning it has a stable chemical structure. At the other end of the CoQ10 scale is ubiquinol, which is the “fully reduced” form of CoQ10. Ubiquinol has an unstable chemical structure, unbalanced by the presence of extra electrons attached to the ubiquinol molecule.
Because ubiquinol is unstable, it is actually the version that is most active inside cells and is involved in most of our energy creation. As ubiquinol seeks chemical stability, it interacts with other molecules, enhancing the metabolic chain that ultimately ends in energy production. However, because it is unstable, it has been more difficult to make available in supplement form. Most supplements have relied on the less-active form, ubiquinone, which the body can still use, just less efficiently. More recently, supplement producers have discovered how to make active ubiquinol available in supplements, meaning both ubiquinol and traditional ubiquinone are available for consumers. Both are safe and effective to use, but ubiquinol has better absorption in the body, so it is becoming a preferred choice.