Tokyo University of Technology researchers report that the novel formulation had a higher bioavailability than a standard commercial coenzyme Q10 product, showing potential to boost the effects of the ingredient in the body. "In order to improve the productivity and quality of CoQ10 supplements, these results will be useful not only fundamentally, but also practically," wrote the researchers in the journal LWT - Food Science and Technology. There is an ever-growing body of scientific data that shows substantial health benefits of CoQ10 supplementation for people suffering from angina, heart attack and hypertension. Clinical trials have also reported benefits for cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. However, the formulation of the CoQ10 is known to play a key role in its bioavailability. Since the coenzyme is lipophilic (fat-loving) its absorption is enhanced in the presence of lipids. Therefore, when taken as a supplement apart from meals, the absorption of some formulations is lower. Trials with CoQ10 supplements in powder and oil-suspension forms are reported to result in small or negligible responses in plasma CoQ10 concentrations. Screening for new emulsions The researchers formulated CoQ10 (Asahi Kasei Pharma Co., Japan) emulsions using one of five fats - olive oil, safflower oil, coconut oil, butter, and cocoa butter - in distilled water with or without skim milk, and with one of four types of emulsifier - lecithin, monoglycerides, CSL, and diacetyl tartaric acid esters of monoglycerides. They found that the highest solubility of CoQ10 was in coconut and safflower oils. Moreover, the optimal formulation was prepared using coconut oil, skim milk aqueous solution, and CSL, stated the researchers. Bioavailability tests Using the emulsion screening results, the Tokyo-based researchers prepared a model emulsion using coconut oil, skim milk aqueous solution, and CSL. They compared the bioavailability with the standard commercial product (HJB CoenzymeQ10 EX, Fujitex Co., Japan) by taking blood samples from five volunteers (two women, average age 23.6, average weight 70.8 kg). For one week, the volunteers consumed one of the CoQ10 formulations, followed a three-week washout period, and a final one week of consuming the other CoQ10 formulation. Comparing the total CoQ10 content of blood (TQ), and the ratio of total CoQ10 content to total content of cholesterol (TQ/TC), the researchers found that the new formulation resulted in a higher bioavailability. Indeed, the TQ and TQ/TC increased following the commercial product by 2.2-fold and 2.4-fold, respectively, and by 2.7-fold and 2.9-fold, respectively, following consumption of the new formulation group. "From the results, it was found that oral bioavailability of the emulsified CoQ10 product was slightly greater than that of the standard CoQ10 product," they stated. The Tokyo-based researchers did state however that this difference was not significant, and this may have been due to large particle sizes. "A possible extension of this research would involve further collection of fundamental data on emulsification of CoQ10 with various food materials in order to produce more stable and more bioavailable emulsified products (e.g., nano-emulsion)," wrote the researchers. "It is known that nm-scale of particles improves the adhesion to and adsorption into the intestinal epithelial cells; further improvement of oral bioavailability of CoQ10 is expected by preparation of a nano-emulsion. Therefore, this will be the subject of a future study," they concluded. Current industry offerings Historically the CoQ10 market has been dominated by four Japanese players with the capacity to supply multi-ton quantities of the ingredient, three of which produce CoQ10 through a fermentation process, with one through organic synthesis. Kaneka, one of the 'big Japanese four', reported data in 2006 that Kaneka Q10 (CoQ10) is safe at doses as high as 900mg per day - an important finding, according to the company, given the worldwide tendency towards higher doses. Work on formulation and increasing bioavailability for the ingredient is not new, with many companies offering solutions to the problem. For dietary supplements, BASF offers to grades, SoluQ10 five per cent and Coenzyme Q10 10 per cent DC. The former, it said, is a solubilizate of CoQ10 said to have excellent liquid dosing properties for use in softgels, while the latter is a 10 per cent DC stable, fast-acting powder for direct compression into tablets. The company says this means manufacturers no longer need go through the wet granulation and compaction processes that are necessary when working with conventional powders. However, Emile Henein, industry manager dietary supplements, North America for BASF Human Nutrition told NutraIngredients.com that BASF had since discontinued its CoQ10 line despite having the bioavailability studies to support our formulations. "BASF strongly supports the value and importance of bioavailability for CoQ10 formulations and applauds the work of Tokyo University . In 2006, when we launched, the market did not recognize this value specifically in the mass market, where CoQ10 is mainly sold. The market continually offered lower grade CoQ10 products and continued to persist with unproven products," he said. US distributor Blue California is also offering a new line of water-soluble coenzyme Q10 ingredients said to be more bioavailable than standard forms of the co-enzyme. CoQ10-WS is said to be a free-flowing, water-soluble powder, available in both 10 and 20 per cent concentrations. It is suitable for use in beverages, tablets and capsules. DSM meanwhile has its All-Q brand that uses a starch-based powder as a carrier for 10 per cent purity CoQ10, making the normally fat-soluble ingredient stable for formulation in water-based beverages, dairy products or energy drinks, the company said. Others have set their sights on similar functionality. For instance, AquaNova has applied its nanotech system known as NovaSol to CoQ10, whereby the active substance is contained within product micelles. This is said to make it more bioavailable, and lend the active ingredient fat and water solubility, which means it can be added to clear liquids without affecting the clarity. Wacker Fine Chemicals also offers Cavamax CoQ10 - a CoQ10 and gamma-cyclodextrin complex. The high bioavailability of this was reported Nutrition Research and covered by NutraIngredients.com. To read the full report, click here. Allied Biotech Corp's NanoQ 10 per cent FT, is based on solubilised nano-grade material which, according to the company, improves the bioavailability relative to more traditional crystal based formulations on the market. The CoQ10 is also in the form of an emulsion of CoQ10 that reportedly doesn't affect the clarity when added to water. The commercial product used in this study consisted of 100 mg CoQ10 encapsulated in extra virgin olive oil. Other ingredients present included tocopherol, lecithin, gelatin, glycerol, and beeswax. Chemistry of CoQ10 CoQ10 has properties similar to vitamins, but since it is naturally synthesized in the body it is not classed as such. With chemical structure 2,3-dimethoxy-5-methyl-6-decaprenyl-1,4-benzoquinone, it is also known as ubiquinone because of its 'ubiquitous' distribution throughout the human body. The coenzyme is concentrated in the mitochondria - the 'power plants' of the cell - and plays a vital role in the production of chemical energy by participating in the production of adenosince triphosphate (ATP), the body's co-called 'energy currency'. A role beyond the mitochondria is also acknowledged, with CoQ10 acting as a potent antioxidant. The coenzyme plays an important role in preserving levels of vitamin E and vitamin C. Source: LWT - Food Science and Technology (Elsevier) Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.lwt.2008.03.006 "Improvement of the Oral Bioavailability of Coenzyme Q10 by Emulsification with Fats and Emulsifiers Used in the Food Industry" Authors: P. Thanatuksorn, K. Kawai, M. Hayakawa, M. Hayashi, K. Kajiwara Statement: This article has been modified from the original due to omissions of information in the "Current industry offerings" section. Apologies for the omissions.