Sid Shastri MSc, Director of Research, Kaneka Nutrients

Sid Shastri MSc is Texas-based Kaneka Nutrientsโ€™ director of research. An alumnus of University of California, Berkeley, he received his undergraduate degree in human biodynamics, and obtained his Master of Science degree in human nutrition. Shastriโ€™s background includes formulating nutritional products in a variety of different combinations and formats. At Kaneka, Shastri applies expertise in ubiquinol and probiotic product development to further innovation in the heart and gut health fields. Here, he discusses how ubiquinol affects preconception health.

Question: How does ubiquinol help with inability to conceive?

Answer: Researchers have uncovered benefits for CoQ10 and ubiquinol in the field of preconception health. Recent advances in understanding the role of mitochondria have revealed that mitochondrial dysfunction is a primary factor contributing to the diminishing quality and quantity of oocytes (egg cells) in older women. This includes both its role in producing cellular energy and in driving processes necessary for homeostasis and function of the whole cell. All cells require ATP (the energy-carrying molecule), but the energetic needs of oocytes are particularly high during its maturation process. These reproductive cells require large amounts of energy for transcription and translation of DNA, replication and growth. As such, proper mitochondrial activity can profoundly impact the function and quality of oocytes. Within the mitochondriaโ€™s role of energy synthesis, both CoQ10 and ubiquinol serve as essential components in the electron transport chain. For women who have delayed childbirth, the availability of adequate CoQ10 and ubiquinol is critical to support the quality and function of oocytes and thereby promote preconception health.

Question: Does the ingredient help both men and women with conception?

Answer: Ubiquinol is an essential component of oxidative phosphorylation, which takes place in the inner mitochondrial membrane of nearly all cells. Both oocyte and sperm have tremendous energy needs as they perform their specialized functions. In addition, ubiquinol is a unique antioxidant in that it works in the lipid membranes of cells, where most free radicals are produced and are especially abundant when energy demands are high.

For men, a pioneering study examined the effects of ubiquinol on sperm parameters. Researchers utilized 200 mg ubiquinol daily (n=228) in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled design for 26 weeks. By study end, there was a statistically significant increase in sperm count (28.7ยฑ 4.6 x106/ml vs. 16.8ยฑ4.4 x106/ml; p<0.005) and sperm motility (35.8 percent vs. 25.4 percent; p<0.008) compared to placebo. There was also a positive correlation between time taking ubiquinol and all sperm parameters. Additionally, the investigators reported that ubiquinol was more effective than CoQ10 in improving sperm count and motility compared to an earlier study they conducted using CoQ10, with sperm density increasing by more than 2.5-fold.

In 2019, over 100 reproductive health scientists jointly published a paper acknowledging the โ€œoverwhelming evidenceโ€ that oxidative stress is associated with male inability to conceive, coining a new term: MOSI (male oxidative stress infertility). Further, they recommend ongoing antioxidant supplementation for MOSI, noting ubiquinol in particular.

For women, studies using CoQ10 have been conducted and research with ubiquinol is underway. In a prospective, randomized, unblinded, controlled study, 186 women who had difficulty conceiving took 200 mg of CoQ10 or placebo for 60 days before undergoing in-vitro fertilization. Those taking CoQ10 had a higher number of retrieved oocytes, greater fertilization rate (67.49 percent) and higher-quality embryos compared to controls (all p<0.05).

Question: What should retailers consider when choosing ubiquinol products for their store?

Answer: Ubiquinol is a reactive nutrient with a broad range of benefits. One of its attributes is its inherent instability, unlike its oxidized form ubiquinone. It is very important to review the product to confirm it is authentic ubiquinol. Kaneka educates reputable brands and contract manufacturers on the creation of stable ubiquinol products. Only Kaneka manufactures ubiquinol in the U.S. Also, we hope retailers will recognize that preconception nutrition is an emerging and important category to have in their stores.

Question: What should retailers consider when discussing the topic with their customers?

Answer: It is helpful for customers to know that individuals seeking preconception care are not alone, with one in six people globally being affected at some point in their life. Inability to conceive may be due to the female or the male, but many do not know that 30-50 percent of cases can be traced back solely or partially to a male factor. This is commonly traced to sperm parameters, including low sperm count, poor sperm motility and abnormal sperm shape. It will help them to know that options are available, including licensed health consultants as well as preconception nutrition. As there are many products that can nutritionally support preconception health, ubiquinol has unique benefits not seen in other supplements including an antioxidant umbrella that recharges other spent antioxidants. Overall, oxidative stress has come to be regarded as a predominant factor in the reproductive health of those who are unable to conceive.

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