Innovation will reinvigorate plodding CoQ10 market, supplier argues

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

American River Nutrition extracts a constituent from the annatto plant for its new CoQ10 combination ingredient.  ©Getty Images - Jobrestful
American River Nutrition extracts a constituent from the annatto plant for its new CoQ10 combination ingredient. ©Getty Images - Jobrestful

Related tags Coq10 healthy aging Statins

An innovation in the delivery of CoQ10 could revolutionize a market that is both robust and staid at the same time, a supplier contends.

American River Nutrition, developers of a new product called DuoQuinol, contends its new product will offer an alternative that the market has been seeking.  According to ARN founder Dr. Barrie Tan, CoQ10 is the third most consumed supplement ingredient, topped by only fish oil and multivitamins, but the growth of the market has trailed the growth of the supplement market generally.

CoQ10 is an important natural antioxidant within the body and is part of the cellular metabolism machinery.  Supplementation with CoQ10 has been shown to have some cardiovascular and cognitive support benefits and it has become more accepted as an adjunct to statin therapy. Statin use has been associated with depression of CoQ10 levels in the body, leading to some patients complaining of greater muscle aches and fatigue. And endogenous CoQ10 production declines with age, with or without a statin present.

Association chief:  Future growth expected

In a guest article published by NutraIngredients-USA​ late last year, Scott Steinford, head of the CoQ10 Association, said there is reason to believe that the market will continue to grow in 2021​.  Among the reasons he cited for this is an ‘agreement in principle’ by the dominant supplier, Chinese company Kingdomway, to support further research.  Steinford said the CoQ10 category could be seen to have been resting on its laurels in terms of research, with a relative dearth of new peer reviewed studies being published.

Steinford also said that the market has been aided by a steady drop in the raw material price over a couple of decades.  Japanese supplier Kaneka, which was the early innovator in the category, supplies the ubiquinol form of the ingredient. According to Steinford, Kaneka has entered into a supply and distribution agreement with another Chinese manufacturer, Shenzhou. This market consolidation has reportedly led to the raw material price starting to rise again after its long decline.

ARN: Market looking for alternative

All of this has led Tan to believe that the market was ripe for an alternative.

“Ironically, while the CoQ10 market continues to grow, it lags behind the growth of the supplement industry in general. Innovation, in our view, is the answer to this dilemma,”​ Tan told NutraIngredients-USA.

“We are confident that our new ingredient, DuoQuinol will supercharge growth levels in the CoQ10 market. DuoQuinol combines ubiquinol, the active form of CoQ10, with a compound called geranylgeraniol (GG). GG is derived from the annatto plant and aids the body with natural stimulation of CoQ10 production,” ​he added.

Tan said while CoQ10 has been around for a long time, there is still a lot of consumer education that needs to be done on the ingredient.

“As a supplement, CoQ10 is not technically essential due to its ubiquitous presence in the body, but it is one of the most crucial endogenous nutrients to support overall wellbeing. Patients with chronic conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer have notoriously low levels of CoQ10 and benefit from supplementation.1 Beyond chronic conditions, CoQ10 levels decrease with advancing age, and CoQ10 supplementation can support ubiquinol’s key role in cellular energy production,”​ Tan said.

Addition of GG strengthens statin story, company claims

Tan said his company’s patented pairing with the addition of geranylgeraniol could in particular light a fire under the use of CoQ10 supplements to ease some of the side effects of statin use.  This could be a potentially huge market.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, by 2014, the most recent year for which data is available, 28% of US adults over the age of 40 were using some form of a statin drug to lower cholesterol​. 

“Few, however, realize that CoQ10 addresses only part of the equation of statin side effects. While CoQ10 supplementation raises endogenous levels of the nutrient and alleviates energy deficits, it does not remedy the muscle pain and weakness that some patients experience.3,4 Statin-associated muscle symptoms (SAMS) occur in 10-20% of statin users, and are due to the loss of the fundamental molecule – geranylgeraniol (GG) – which shares the cholesterol synthesis pathway and acts not only as a building block for CoQ10 synthesis, but separately provides the basis for skeletal muscle production,”​ Tan said.

American River Nutrition claims to have developed a unique, patent-pending method for producing its own ubiquinol which is used in its formulation.  It also has a patent on the GG constituent, branded as GG Gold, which is derived from annatto, a raw material ARN has been working with for many years.  ARN says both constituents and the blended product are produced in the United States at the company's plant in Hadley, MA.

Patent infringement suit

Kaneka, however, disagrees with the uniqueness of ARN’s process and has filed a patent infringement suit.  In mid February Kaneka filed the suit in a court in Delaware, naming ARN and Designs for Health as defendants. DFH is a finished product marketer that concentrates on the practitioner channel and has cooperated with ARN on several recent product launches.  The two companies claim that the suit is without merit and will be contested.  Kaneka did not respond to a request for additional comment in time for publication.

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