Astaxanthin and ubiquinol: the mighty mitochondrial duo

Published: 19-May-2021

Healthy ageing is an ever-increasing priority for consumers. And it’s no longer just about the elderly; millennials, fitness enthusiasts, biohackers and many others want to extend their healthspan

There is a growing requirement for targeted nutritional products that support our many years of active life and good health. Astaxanthin and ubiquinol is a promising new nutrient combination that perfectly meets this need.

It’s already well known that the function of mitochondria declines with age owing to oxidative stress, which can lead to typical age-related diseases.

These cellular “power plants” are responsible for energy production in the form of ATP (adenosine triphosphate); but, this process also generates huge amounts of free radicals. Excessive exposure to such reactive oxygen compounds causes oxidative stress in the body, which in turn promotes mitochondrial dysfunction.

Ubiquinol and astaxanthin are the perfect pairing for the ultimate mitochondrial maintenance solution. Ubiquinol is present in almost every cell in the human body and plays a crucial role in mitochondria’s energy production.

And astaxanthin, derived from the microalga Haematococcus pluvialis, is nature’s most powerful antioxidant. It protects mitochondria against free radical damage, thus maintaining their ability to produce energy.1

It is also 550 times more effective than vitamin E when it comes to protecting against lipid peroxidation in the mitochondria.2

Andie Long

Andie Long

That’s why astaxanthin pioneer AstaReal and patented supplier of ubiquinol, Kaneka, have joined forces to develop a concept for a new dietary supplement. Andie Long, Marketing and Sales Manager at AstaReal, explains: “Combining these two ingredients offers a lot of benefits. Put simply, without ubiquinol, we wouldn’t be able to run, jump or even move at all."

"It is essential for the energy production that takes place in the mitochondria. Astaxanthin ensures that this process runs smoothly. It can help to banish free radicals in the mitochondrial membranes and therefore help to maintain mitochondrial functionality.”

Filip Van hulle, General Manager at Kaneka Nutrients Europe, adds: “We have noticed that several customers already sell ubiquinol and astaxantin … but in separate capsules. Other customers sell either one or the other."

"But, so far, there are no products containing both premium nutrients on the European market. Combining them means consumers need only take one product to obtain the health benefits of both ingredients. We see great potential in the mitochondrial nutrition area and decided to work together with AstaReal — the most studied brand of natural astaxanthin worldwide.”

Convenient dosage forms

The concept was successfully tested at laboratory scale with soft gums containing 4 mg of AstaReal Astaxanthin and 100 mg of Kaneka Ubiquinol, which can also be enriched with additional vitamins or minerals. Combination products — be they soft gums or classic tablets and capsules — that offer holistic solutions for a variety of needs are well received by today’s consumers.

The gummy supplements market in particular has huge growth potential. The success of such dosage forms is based on three key factors: first, gummies taste better than traditional supplements.

Secondly, chewable products eliminate the difficulties associated with swallowing large tablets or capsules. And, last but not least, switching to a gummy version of a dietary supplement makes people feel as though they are not taking too many pills.

Filip Van hulle

Filip Van hulle

As a result, the global gummy vitamins market — estimated to be $5.9 billion in 2020 — is projected to reach a value of $10.6 billion by 2025, recording a CAGR of 12.5%.3

Factors such as growing awareness of on-the-go supplements, pleasing tastes and ease of consumption are projected to drive this growth. Beyond gummy supplements, astaxanthin and ubiquinol can be used in many other formulas — from classic tablets and capsules to innovative product formats such as liquid shots, sachets powders and chewable softgels.

Various product positioning possibilities

In addition to boosting mitochondrial function, both nutrients provide a broad range of other health benefits, such as immunity, cardiovascular health, skin and muscle support. As such, the market opportunities and target groups are vast. With the new concept, people can get support for all of these issues and more in just one supplement.

“Harmful free radicals are also formed during exercise and recovery, affecting energy levels and the ability to bounce back from strenuous activity,” explains Andie Long.

“In endurance sports, for instance, the body produces 12 times more radicals than when resting. That’s why we need to secure continuous antioxidant protection from our diet to support our body’s own defences. When it comes to nourishing the mitochondria and keeping up efficient energy production via ubiquinol, natural astaxanthin is a very effective solution.”

Filip Van hulle adds: “Active women who want to stay energised, recover faster from sports and maintain good immune health amid their busy lifestyles are an interesting target group too.”

It is well known that nutritional requirements for women differ from those of men.

A dietary supplement with ubiquinol, astaxanthin and vitamin D and B12, for instance, could enhance their energy deficiencies, endurance performance and muscle health, while also compensating for nutrient losses associated with a vegetarian or vegan diet.

“We recently conducted an interesting study among French nurses suffering extreme stress and fatigue as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. After taking 100 mg of Kaneka Ubiquinol per day for 2 months, more than half of them felt less tired than before the treatment, two out of three felt less stressed and seven out of ten reported improved well-being,” says Filip Van hulle.

These results strongly suggest that ubiquinol could help to alleviate stress symptoms and fatigue — characteristics that complement those of astaxanthin. AstaReal Astaxanthin has also been proven to be effective against both mental and physical fatigue.4 Both nutrients therefore make perfect partners in supplements targeting people suffering from stress and lethargy.

Astaxanthin and ubiquinol: the mighty mitochondrial duo

The companies’ concept is also interesting for the growing immune health market, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Numerous studies show that Kaneka Ubiquinol has a significant impact on supporting immunity.

Researchers found that people with influenza had far less ubiquinol in their body than healthy people, and this was confirmed during three influenza seasons.5

AstaReal natural astaxanthin has been shown to significantly decrease the expression of proinflammatory markers, thus providing potent anti-inflammatory protection.6

In addition, astaxanthin is able to enhance the capacity of lymphocytes — cells that allow the body to remember previous invaders and help to destroy them.

In the past, sales of immune supplements tended to peak during the traditional cold and flu season. But people have now learned that immunity is an important topic for all ages, all-year round.

Now, more than ever, consumers are reflecting on their well-being, taking more exercise and trying to live healthier lives. As a result, there is increasing interest in nutritional strategies that address several issues simultaneously, such as increased energy and endurance, heart health, improved mental well-being and immune system support.

Astaxanthin and ubiquinol target all of these areas. And, as there seems to be a link between good immunity and healthy ageing, the mitochondrial duo could be helpful for people of all ages.

The market is ready

Health prevention and the desire for a better quality of life in old age are becoming increasingly important, with more and more people now aware of the benefits of preventing diseases at a young age rather than having to treat them in later life.

Brands can use this engagement to shape their products and communication, and create premium dietary supplements containing value-added specialty ingredients.

Mitochondrial nutrients such as astaxanthin and ubiquinol that are produced in a natural way and backed by scientific research will appeal to health-conscious shoppers looking for specific health benefits. In addition, they will also prove popular with those looking for multifunctional benefits in one product.


  1. A.M. Wolf, et al., “Astaxanthin Protects Mitochondrial Redox State and Functional Integrity Against Oxidative Stress,” J. Nutr. Biochem. 21(5), 381–389 (2010).
  2. Y. Nishida, et al., “Quenching Activities of Common Hydrophilic and Lipophilic Antioxidants Against Singlet Oxygen Using Chemiluminescence Detection System,” Carotenoid Science 11(6), 16–20 (2007).
  4. N. Hongo, et al., “Randomized Controlled Trial of the Anti-Fatigue Effects of Astaxanthin on Mental and Physical Loads Simulating Daily Life,” Journal of Clinical Therapeutics & Medicines 32(7), 577–591 (2016).
  5. M. Chase, et al., “Coenzyme Q10 in Acute Influenza,” Influenza Other Respir. Viruses 13(1), 64–70 (2019).
  6. J.S. Park, et al., “Astaxanthin Decreased Oxidative Stress and Inflammation and Enhanced Immune Response in Humans,” Nutr. Metab. (Lond.) 7, 18 (2010):

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