Coenzyme Q10 and ubiquinol are two vitally important supplements that many are still unaware of. Risa Schulman, Ph.D., is a biologist and functional food expert who has spent the last two decades researching these and other supplements.
"I kind of pulled together my love of human physiology, plant physiology and the environment into a lifelong career, looking at how compounds in plants and various natural products can help us to keep our bodies working optimally," she says.
"My mission is to dig into the science and separate the wheat from the chaff ... and then to get the word out to the public as to what the health benefits are, how they can be used, and what things are useful."
Coenzyme Q10 Versus Ubiquinol
Ubiquinol is the reduced version of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10, aka ubiquinone). They're actually the same molecule, but when CoQ10 is reduced it takes on two electrons, which turns it into what we call ubiquinol.
In your body, this conversion occurs thousands of times every second inside your mitochondria — the "engine" of each cell in which energy is produced
"The reason it does this flipping back and forth between these two forms of the molecule is that this is part of the process that helps us to change our food into energy," Schulman explains.
"This is very important to healthy functioning, and obviously important for all muscles, in particular your heart muscle, which works hardest of all the muscles."
In addition to converting food into energy, ubiquinol also has a number of additional functions. For starters, ubiquinol is a lipid-soluble (fat-soluble) antioxidant, meaning it works in the lipid portions of your body, such as your cell membranes. It's one of the very few antioxidants that are fat-soluble.
"Vitamin E is one of the other ones that is very well known. But ubiquinol is actually more powerful than vitamin E, because vitamin E cannot completely lodge itself inside the membrane where all the oxidative activity is happening whereas ubiquinol can."
The second thing that sets ubiquinol apart from other antioxidants is that it can regenerate itself. Vitamin E, for example, cannot. In fact, vitamin E is regenerated by ubiquinol. Ubiquinol is also the only fat-soluble antioxidant that's actually generated within your body and doesn't have to be ingested from your food.