Over the past decade, research has revealed the connection between coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) and fertility, and it’s become a popular nutrient for couples trying to conceive.* But with popularity also comes misinformation, so we’re here to bust seven myths surrounding CoQ10 and fertility.*
Myth 1: There is no link between CoQ10 and fertility.
Fact: CoQ10 and fertility go hand-in-hand.*
You’ve probably heard that the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. Egg cells (oocytes) contain more mitochondria than any other cell in the female body, and it takes a lot of energy to properly mature healthy eggs.
That’s where CoQ10 comes in. CoQ10 plays a major role in energy production within the mitochondria.* But here’s the problem: As women age, CoQ10 levels naturally decrease, which impacts egg quality.* Studies show that CoQ10 can help support fertility, egg quality, and a healthy pregnancy, particularly in older women.*
Myth 2: CoQ10 only helps female fertility.*
Fact: There's a connection between CoQ10 and male fertility, too.*
It takes approximately three months for fully mature sperm to form. During that time, molecules known as free radicals can impact sperm quality. Free radicals are a byproduct of normal metabolic processes in the body, but they also result from environmental factors, like exposure to X-rays, air pollution, and industrial chemicals. Antioxidants are responsible for neutralizing free radicals so they don’t cause damage to your body’s cells.*
CoQ10 acts as an antioxidant, and studies have linked this nutrient to healthy sperm morphology (shape), motility (movement), and density.*
Myth 3: The best form of CoQ10 for fertility is ubiquinol.
Fact: It's not the form of CoQ10 that matters, it's the formulation.
Which is the best form of CoQ10 for fertility: ubiquinone or ubiquinol?* There’s a lot of conflicting information on this topic.
Ubiquinone is the oxidized form of CoQ10, while ubiquinol is the reduced form. Both forms exist within the body, and the body can convert between the two depending on its needs.
CoQ10 supplements are available in many forms, including softgels, capsules, chewable tablets, and oral sprays. However, CoQ10 is a large, fat-soluble nutrient, so most CoQ10 supplements (standard ubiquinone or ubiquinol) aren’t very well absorbed, even when taken with food.
Studies have compared ubiquinol vs. ubiquinone to try to determine which is most bioavailable and best absorbed.
Match-Up #1: Standard Ubiquinol vs. Ubiquinone
A 2014 study compared standard oil-based ubiquinol to standard oil-based ubiquinone, and participants took 200 mg/day of either ubiquinol or ubiquinone for four weeks. Participants who took standard ubiquinol had an average total CoQ10 blood level of 4.3 mcg/mL compared to 2.5 mcg/mL in the standard ubiquinone group.*
So, the absorption and bioavailability of oil-based ubiquinol is higher than that of oil-based ubiquinone.*
Match-Up #2: Enhanced-Absorption Ubiquinone vs. Standard Ubiquinone
In a 2009 study, participants received a single dose of 125 mg of ubiquinone formulated with VESIsorb® (an enhanced absorption delivery system). These participants demonstrated CoQ10 blood levels that were 3-6 times higher than those taking the same dose of other standard, oil-based ubiquinone products.*
Those taking ubiquinone with VESIsorb achieved peak CoQ10 blood levels of 7.0 mcg/mL. Participants taking other oil-based/solubilized products only reached peak blood levels of roughly 2 – 3.5 mcg/mL.
The controversy between the two forms exists because there are no "apples to apples" comparisons. There have been no studies evaluating enhanced absorption ubiquinone versus either standard or enhanced-absorption ubiquinol.
The key takeaway is that the highest peak blood levels of CoQ10 have been seen in those taking enhanced absorption ubiquinone (7.0 mcg/mL).* Ubiquinone with VESIsorb has been shown to be more bioavailable than standard oil-based ubiquinol (4.3 mcg/mL) or ubiquinone (2.5 mcg/mL).*
Myth 4: Women should always take 600 mg of CoQ10 for fertility.* Fact: Dosing varies depending on the type of CoQ10 you take.
Research is still emerging for CoQ10 and egg quality, and there’s currently no one recommended dose for female fertility and egg quality.* While CoQ10 dosage recommendations vary, the available research has led many providers to recommend 600 mg of CoQ10 per day.
But remember, absorption varies among CoQ10 formulations, so the dose that’s right for you depends on the CoQ10 supplement you’re taking. If you’re taking a product formulated with enhanced absorption technology, like VESISorb, you can take a lower dose compared to other CoQ10 supplements. Talk to your fertility provider to find out how much CoQ10 you should take each day.
Myth 5: CoQ10 is a vitamin.
Fact: CoQ10 is "vitamin-like."
Vitamins can’t be made within the body – they must be obtained through diet or supplementation. Because CoQ10 is naturally produced by the human body, it doesn’t technically qualify as a vitamin. But, it is a fat-soluble, “vitamin-like” compound in the ubiquinone family.The name “ubiquinone” refers to the fact that ubiquinones, including CoQ10, have a “ubiquitous” presence in living organisms. In other words, virtually all cells in the human body contain CoQ10. Because it is so abundant in the body, CoQ10 is an essential compound for cell function.
Coenzyme Q10 concentrations are highest in organs with high rates of metabolism, such as the heart, kidneys, and liver.
Myth 6: You can get all the CoQ10 you need through your diet.
Fact: You could, but you'd have to eat a lot of organ meat.
While the body naturally makes CoQ10, you can also get it by eating certain foods. Because CoQ10 concentrations are highest in the heart, kidneys, and liver, the best dietary sources of CoQ10 are organ meats. Other food sources of CoQ10 include fatty fish and whole grains.
The average daily intake of CoQ10 is low – only about 3-6 mg. And be aware, cooking coenzyme Q10-containing foods reduces the amount of CoQ10 by 14-32%.
Myth 7: Women should continue taking CoQ10 throughout their pregnancy.
Fact: For most women, CoQ10 will not have additional benefits during pregnancy.
Although there is no reason to think that CoQ10 is unsafe during pregnancy, most women do not need to continue it once pregnant.
While research is still emerging, the association between CoQ10 and fertility is becoming more apparent.* If you’re interested in adding CoQ10 to your supplement routine, be sure to keep your healthcare provider in the loop.