Back in the 1980s, a compound known as coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) was found to have the ability to boost the energy output and the health of mitochondria. Mitochondrial dysfunction is now known to o be an important biomarker of the aging process.
Research has demonstrated that people over the age of 70 have 50% or more mitochondrial brain cell damage than individuals in their middle age. Mitochondrial damage and death is inextricably linked to the progress of nearly every killer disease associated with aging such as type 2 diabetes, heart failure and Alzheimer’s disease.
Mitochondrial dysfunction or death can however be reversed according to the scientific data which has demonstrated the ability of CoQ10 to protect against degenerative disease through improving mitochondrial health. PQQ is the most recent advance in mitochondrial health.
PQQ has been getting quite a lot of attention lately especially for its anti-aging potential and its possible application in treating diseases related to aging such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. But what exactly is PQQ and how does it work?
PQQ or Pyrroloquinoline quinone is not considered to be a vitamin rather a vitamin like compound which occurs naturally in certain plant foods. Preliminary research shows that it may possess a host of benefits for both brain and bodily function.
Analysis which has been done to date shows that PQQ occurs naturally in all plant food. Parsley, kiwi fruit, green peppers, tofu and the Japanese fermented soybean natto are especially rich sources of the compound. Green tea offers a similar amount per 4 ounce cup.
How does PQQ work?
PQQ is a very potent antioxidant which like CoQ10 provides significant protection against mitochondrial damage. It also acts as a cofactor for the unique class of enzyme involved with cellular growth, development and survival. Its incredible antioxidant abilities are evidenced by the fact that it can catalyze in a continuous cycle far better than other antioxidants.
PQQ can carry out over 20,000 catalyzing conversions compared to just the 4 that vitamin C can carry out.
One of the very most exciting findings emerged from a study published in 2010 which demonstrated that not only did PQQ protect the mitochondria from damage but it could also stimulate the growth of brand new mitochondria. (1)
PQQ is an essential micronutrient
Given the fact that PQQ is ubiquitous in nature and based on current research, experts have no doubt that PQQ plays a key role in nutrition. All plants analyzed to date contain PQQ to one degree or another. When it is omitted from the diet of animals, several adverse reactions have been observed including weakened immune systems, growth impairment and compromised reproductive functions.
Perhaps more importantly, research has also showed that removing PQQ from the diet resulted in fewer mitochondria within the tissue and that when re-introduced into the diet, these effects were reversed. (2)
Anti-Aging effects on the organs
The dual function of PQQ as a cell modulator and its incredible antioxidant powers makes it extremely effective in protecting age related degenerative diseases that typically affect the body’s most energy consuming organs, the brain and the heart.
Its ability to stimulate new mitochondria (a process called mitochondrial biogenesis) as well as its positive effects on cell development throughout the system gives PQQ huge cardio protective and neuroprotective potential.
Studies have demonstrated that PQQ can help optimize health throughout the entire central nervous system. It can reverse cognitive damage caused by oxidative stress and improve memory according to animal research published in 2008. (3) Further studies have shown that it can protect against a gene linked to Parkinson’s disease called DJ-1 from becoming oxidized. (4)
PQQ has also been shown to protect the brain’s cells from oxidative damage following ischemia reperfusion injuries or the damage caused to the issues when blood suddenly returns following a stroke. (5) Researcher have also found that when animals are fed PQQ prior to stroke being induced, it significantly decreases the amount and size of damage to the brain. (6)
PQQ can also interact with the neurotransmitters of the brain to great effect. It actually protects the neurons because it modifies the NMDA receptor sites. This is important because NMDA is a key mediator in the neurological responses linked to seizures and degenerative neurological diseases.(7) Moreover, studies have found that PQQ can also protect against neurotoxicity that occurs because of other toxins like mercury. (8)
Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s
There is a growing body of promising evidence that PQQ could help prevent these two dreadful diseases. Both diseases result from an accumulation of proteins that lead to oxidative brain cell decay and death.
According to research PQQ helps guard against the development of an abnormal protein called alpha-synuclein which is known to be linked to Parkinson’s disease. (9) In addition, other studies have showed that PQQ protects the nerve cells against a protein called amyloid-beta which is associated with Alzheimer’s. (10)
PQQ can also improve cognitive function and memory as has been demonstrated in experiments on both aging humans and animal models. A study published in 2012 found that PQQ supplementation of 20mg each day resulted in significant improvements in cognitive function tests. When subjects combined their PQQ supplement with 300 mg of CoQ10 each day, the resulting improvements were amplified markedly. (11)
PQQ for Heart Protection
The resulting damage from a heart attack is caused by ischemia reperfusion injuries when the blood supply suddenly floods back to the tissues. Studies have found that PQQ supplementation was able to reduce the size of the damage in animals following heart attack whether the PP. This decrease in the size of the damaged area of the heart was seen whether the PQQ was given after or before the reperfusion injury. (12)
A further study published in 2006 set out to examine the effects of PQQ compared with meroprolol-a commonly used beta blocker following heart attacks. When used in isolation, both the beta blocker and PQQ reduced the size of the damaged area and also protected against dysfunction of the heart muscles.
However, when given together, the pumping pressure of the left ventricle was improved. Only PQQ was able to reduce lipid peroxidation. Researchers came to the amazing conclusion that PQQ was superior to the beta blocker in protecting the mitochondria from ischemic and oxidative damage. (13)
Further research conducted by the same team of scientists has found that PQQ supplementation helped the heart’s muscles cells to resist damage from oxidative stress by enhancing and preserving mitochondrial function. (14)
PQQ may improve sleep, fatigue and mood
Taking PQQ supplements can also improve the quality of your sleep and reduce the time it takes you to drop off in the first place. A human study which examined the effect of PQQ on 17 people given 20 mg a day of PQQ taken for a period of 8 weeks concluded that PQQ could improve the quality of sleep significantly. The same study found that PQQ extended the duration of sleep though it took 8 weeks of supplementation before the improvements were significant. (15)
While there is no precise recommended daily dose, most studies indicate that 20 mg a day is optimal for mitochondrial function and cognitive improvement.