Coenzyme Q10 is an enzyme that your body makes. Scientific evidence shows that it functions like a vitamin and may have antioxidant properties. Supplement manufacturers make CoQ10 in laboratories; some produce synthetic versions and some extract it from naturals sources, mainly meat and seafood. The formulation ingredients and strength vary by manufacturer.
The CoQ10 produced by your body helps you manufacture a compound called adenosine triphosphate. This chemical is an essential energy source for your body's cells, and it has a role in protein production. The most prominent sites in the body for naturally produced CoQ10 are the heart, kidneys, liver and pancreas.
The enzyme is also available in commonly consumed foods. Primary CoQ10 food source include fried beef, herring, rainbow trout, sardines and salmon. Plant sources of CoQ10 include legumes such as soybeans and peanuts, along with broccoli, cauliflower and oranges.
Common Supplement Ingredients
Ubiquinone and ubidecarenone are two of the scientific or medical names for CoQ10. Ubiquinol is an activated or reduced form of CoQ10. In tablets or capsules that contain this form of CoQ10, you can expect that your body will have more available CoQ10 than you would from formulations that use standard CoQ10, or ubiquinone. Because CoQ10 is a fat-soluble enzyme, supplement manufacturers often suspend it in vegetable oils to help your body absorb the enzyme more easily.
The National Library of Medicine’s Dietary Supplement Database listed product labels for 11 CoQ10 supplements sold in the U.S. at the time of publication. Glycerin and beta-carotene, a natural coloring agent, appear on the product label for one supplement sold in soft gel capsules. All formulations in capsule form contain gelatin, which may be of animal or plant origin. Beeswax and water also appear on some product labels. One CoQ10 product, formulated as slices, has cane juice, orange and lemon flavoring, coconut oil and glucose syrup, along with lactic and citric acid in its formulation.
The Food and Drug Administration does not require testing of dietary supplements before they reach the market, so consumers must rely on the product labels to determine the source and type of CoQ10 each manufacturer supplies. A 2011 Consumer Lab.com review of 31 CoQ10 and ubiquinol supplements showed that, like the ingredients, the recommended daily dosage varies widely, depending on the manufacturer. The cost for 100 mg of CoQ10 or ubiquinol can range from less than 11 cents to more than $3.