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Supporting your mitochondria is probably one of the most important things you can do for your health. They’re the powerhouses of your cells, playing a vital role in everything from generating energy to triggering apoptosis (cell death). If you’ve never heard of PPQ, you’re not alone. I first saw it in an email advertising supplements to support my mitochondria. I didn’t even know what PQQ stands for (pyrroloquinoline quinone), let alone how it might help my cells. I had to learn more!

What is PQQ?

Pyrroloquinoline quinone, also known as methoxatin, is a substance found (in small amounts) in many foods. PQQ may even be present in interstellar dust, meaning our connection to it may go back to our very beginnings (1).

Bacteria produce it to digest alcohol and sugar for energy production (2). Plants take it in from the bacteria in the soil, which is why there are small amounts in many foods. And while our bodies need it (at least in small amounts), few people other than researchers and biohackers are familiar with it.

Potential Health Benefits

PPQ has some serious health-supporting properties. It’s a powerful antioxidant, about 100 times better than vitamin C at eliminating free radicals. This makes it anti-inflammatory as well. It stimulates mitochondrial growth and replication, which increases the energy available to your cells. It also promotes the production of NGF (nerve growth factor). (3)

These properties lead to potentially significant benefits in many areas:

  • Energy levels: As mentioned above, PQQ increases the energy available to your cells. This may be its most important benefit, as your body needs energy for everything from getting out of bed in the morning to fighting off an infection.
  • The brain: PQQ protects against brain injuries by suppressing reactive nitrogen species. It binds to damaged cells and neurotoxins in the brain, rescues hippocampal neurons (memory cells), and decreases the damaged area in strokes and traumatic brain injuries. It also helps cells recover from amyloid-beta-induced oxidative stress and may combat other neurological issues. (3)
  • The heart: PQQ improves blood circulation, cardiac function, and energy production in the heart. It reduces the size of damaged areas from heart attacks, protects the heart muscle, and reduces cellular damage. (3)

 A powerhouse in a single substance

When researchers gave rats drugs to induce a heart attack, high doses of PQQ (5-20 mg/kg) were “highly effective” in reducing the size of the attack. The researchers concluded that “PQQ, which appears to act as a free radical scavenger in ischemic myocardium, is a highly effective cardioprotective agent.” (4)

  • The joints: Preliminary research indicates that PQQ may slow down the deterioration of joints in both rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. (3)The liver: PQQ enables the liver to break down more fat and convert it into energy. It may also reverse both acute and chronic liver injuries. (3).
  • The skin: PQQ is used in many anti-aging creams due to its ability to rejuvenate skin cells and rebuild healthy tissue, leading to thicker skin and fewer wrinkles (3). In a study on skin aging in rats, artificially induced skin aging was suppressed with PQQ supplementation. The authors concluded that PQQ worked by decreasing oxidative stress and DNA damage, promoting cell proliferation, inhibiting cell senescence, and the secretion of substances that degrade collagen (5).
  • Sleep: A study of 17 people with fatigue and sleep issues showed significant improvement in sleep duration and quality after four weeks of PQQ supplementation (20 mg per day). At eight weeks, there were also significant improvements in the amount of time needed to fall asleep. While this was a preliminary study, the results are encouraging. (3)

That’s a lot of benefits for a single substance!

Biohacking with PQQ: Does it work?

While PQQ has tons of potential, there are some real limitations. Many of the studies have been performed on animals or cells in a lab, and human studies tend to be quite small.

The famous biohacker Dave Asprey experimented with PQQ, taking 30-40 mg per day. He says he never felt a thing! He believes that’s because the PQQ in most supplements is pyrroloquinoline quinone disodium salt. According to Asprey, disodium salts react with stomach acid to form “little rocks” rather than finding their way to the mitochondria. He created his own form, which he named ActivePQQ, and included it in a supplement called Unfair Advantage. (6)

Unfair Advantage seems to be off the market, and reviews of other PQQ products are mixed Some people swear by it, citing improved memory and energy levels, while others don’t notice a difference.

Is PPQ safe?

The suggested dosage is usually 20 mg per day for adults (though some say up to 40 mg), and it’s not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women (no studies). Headaches, drowsiness, and fatigue have been reported at lower doses, and extremely high doses can be life-threatening (7).

The effects of long-term use have not been studied, and interactions with other medications are also unknown (8). If you’re dealing with a health condition or taking medication, it’s important to consult with a medical professional before taking PQQ.

Are there alternatives?

While PQQ shows great promise, we need a lot more research. If you’re interested in supporting your mitochondria, there are other supplements to consider. Asprey recommends CoQ10 (on its own and in combination with PQQ). We also like methylene blue, another biohacker’s supplement that improves energy production by supporting the mitochondria. If you’d like to learn more about methylene blue, check out our recent article.

We live in exciting times, with so many possibilities for improving our health and living longer. With more research, perhaps PQQ will become a popular and affordable way to give our cells a boost.

References

(1) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19803551/

Rucker R, Chowanadisai W, Nakano M. Potential physiological importance of pyrroloquinoline quinone. Altern Med Rev. 2009 Sep;14(3):268-77. PMID: 19803551.

(2) https://chemistry.berkeley.edu/news/behind-scenes-look-longevity-vitamin-pqq

(3) https://drlewisclarke.com/pqq-the-benefits-and-why-your-brain-cells-need-it/

(4) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15770429/ – rat heart study

Zhu BQ, Zhou HZ, Teerlink JR, Karliner JS. Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) decreases myocardial infarct size and improves cardiac function in rat models of ischemia and ischemia/reperfusion. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 2004 Nov;18(6):421-31. doi: 10.1007/s10557-004-6219-x. PMID: 15770429.

(5) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8849985/

Li J, Liu M, Liang S, Yu Y, Gu M. Repression of the Antioxidant Pyrroloquinoline Quinone in Skin Aging Induced by Bmi-1 Deficiency. Biomed Res Int. 2022 Feb 9;2022:1732438. doi: 10.1155/2022/1732438. PMID: 35187158; PMCID: PMC8849985.

(6) https://daveasprey.com/pqq-boost-the-energy-in-your-cells-to-do-everything-better/

(7)https://draxe.com/nutrition/pqq-supplement/

(8) https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/what-to-know-about-pqq-supplements

 

 

 

 

Steph Sterner

Steph Sterner

Steph Sterner is a holistic practitioner and the author of No Guilt, No Games, No Drama and other self-help books. She writes about personal development, why we think and feel the way we do, and the nature of consciousness. You can find her on Medium (@Steph.Sterner) or at www.stephsterner.com.

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