Pyrroloquinoline Quinone PQQ – Health benefits, side effects, how to use, and more!

Pyrroloquinoline Quinone PQQ – Health benefits, side effects, how to use, and more!

PQQ Benefits

While many in the nootropics community are solely focused on boosting neurotransmitters, we here at Holistic Nootropics take a more sophisticated approach.

We believe that boosting mind-body cell function can improve overall cognitive performance.

PQQ supplementation is a potent mitochondrial function enhancer that increases cell function and boosts overall health and cognitive health.

There are many benefits to using PQQ supplements, including energy metabolism and increased energy levels that come with a whole cascade of benefits, including healthy aging.

The following article delves into PQQ’s health benefits and science and the best places to find PQQ supplements!

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What is Pyrroloquinoline quinone PQQ?

Pyrroloquinoline quinone is a natural compound found in soil bacteria that was first discovered in the late 1960s.

In early studies, it serves as an essential component for bacterial metabolism.

It was later known that pyrroloquinoline quinone is also vital to your body’s biochemistry.

PQQ helps in many biochemical reactions

Our body contains many enzymes that are vital in improving cellular energy production, such as dehydrogenases and oxidases. 1Karen R. Jonscheret al, Pyrroloquinoline-Quinone Is More Than an Antioxidant: A Vitamin-like Accessory Factor Important in Health and Disease PreventionBiomolecules. 2021

PQQ helps in cellular metabolism as a cofactor, a compound that improves enzyme catalytic reactions.2Karen R. Jonscheret al, Pyrroloquinoline-Quinone Is More Than an Antioxidant: A Vitamin-like Accessory Factor Important in Health and Disease PreventionBiomolecules. 2021

PQQ helps in maintaining mitochondrial function

Apart from that, PQQ has various benefits including mitochondrial biogenesis, improving mitochondrial function, reducing mitochondrial oxidative stress, and overall, maintaining mitochondrial health.3Karen R. Jonscheret al, Pyrroloquinoline-Quinone Is More Than an Antioxidant: A Vitamin-like Accessory Factor Important in Health and Disease PreventionBiomolecules. 2021

This may seem that PQQ helps mainly in mitochondrial dysfunction but this effect on our body energy metabolism is beneficial to the resulting health benefits.

Is PQQ the same as CoQ10?

PQQ, although a coenzyme like Coenzyme Q10 or CoQ10 and share similar benefits, they act differently on mitochondria.

PQQ appears to act on mitochondrial biogenesis, which means it increases the number of mitochondria in cells.

On the other hand, CoQ10 acts in helping mitochondrial function by enhancing mitochondrial energy metabolism.4Juan D. Hernández-Camacho et al, Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation in Aging and DiseaseFront Physiol. 2018

How is energy produced in the body?

Energy is produced by a metabolic process known as cellular respiration.

The electron transport chain is one of the vital biochemical pathways of the mitochondria for this metabolic process.

Electron transport chain or ETC is a 4-step process wherein there is a series of oxidation and reduction reactions.

These cascading redox reactions ultimately lead to the production of adenosine triphosphate or ATP in the last step of the process known as oxidative phosphorylation.5Deirdre Nolfi-Donegan et al, Mitochondrial electron transport chain: Oxidative phosphorylation, oxidant production, and methods of measurementRedox Biol. 2020

ATP is the source of energy for the body to maintain normal cellular metabolism.

Why take PQQ?

It is said that the mitochondrion is the powerhouse of the cell and it is where ATP is produced to maintain normal cellular energy metabolism by way of cellular respiration.

That said, maintaining mitochondrial function optimally is important in biohacking and maintaining high energy levels.

Having that burst of energy levels from the high levels of ATP produced by the mitochondria can help in memory, cognition, judgment, and even in age-related cognitive decline.6Yoshiaki Shiojima et al, Effect of Dietary Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Disodium Salt on Cognitive Function in Healthy Volunteers: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group StudyJ Am Coll Nutr. 20217Kei Ohwada et al, Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) Prevents Cognitive Deficit Caused by Oxidative Stress in RatsJ Clin Biochem Nutr. 2008

Apart from the mitochondrial function, PQQ protects cells such namely brain cells from oxidative damage by eliminating free radicals.8Kei Ohwada et al, Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) Prevents Cognitive Deficit Caused by Oxidative Stress in RatsJ Clin Biochem Nutr. 2008

More research revealed that PQQ may prevent other neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and traumatic brain injury.9Yasue Yamada et al, Effects of pyrroloquinoline quinone and imidazole pyrroloquinoline on biological activities and neural functionsHeliyon. 202010Darrell Sawmiller et al, Beneficial effects of a pyrroloquinolinequinone-containing dietary formulation on motor deficiency, cognitive decline and mitochondrial dysfunction in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s diseaseHeliyon. 2017

Health Benefits Of PQQ Supplementation

Neurological

In early research, approved PQQ supplements can help brain cells by stimulating mitochondria biogenesis and by preventing oxidative stress on nerve cells. 11Kei Ohwada et al, Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) Prevents Cognitive Deficit Caused by Oxidative Stress in RatsJ Clin Biochem Nutr. 2008

This increase in new mitochondria, particularly in the brain, can result from the activation of two pathways, the cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator-1-alpha (PGC-1α).12Winyoo Chowanadisai et al, Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Stimulates Mitochondrial Biogenesis through cAMP Response Element-binding Protein Phosphorylation and Increased PGC-1α ExpressionJ Biol Chem. 2010

These two pathways are present in the brain cells and help improve brain performance and maintain brain health.13Winyoo Chowanadisai et al, Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Stimulates Mitochondrial Biogenesis through cAMP Response Element-binding Protein Phosphorylation and Increased PGC-1α ExpressionJ Biol Chem. 2010

In another study, PQQ acts by preventing oxidative damage in brain cells.14Darrell Sawmiller et al, Beneficial effects of a pyrroloquinolinequinone-containing dietary formulation on motor deficiency, cognitive decline and mitochondrial dysfunction in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s diseaseHeliyon. 2017

This prevents the onset and worsening of cognitive decline and maintains cognitive performance.15Kei Ohwada et al, Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) Prevents Cognitive Deficit Caused by Oxidative Stress in RatsJ Clin Biochem Nutr. 2008

PQQ supplements’ neurological benefits can ultimately help improve memory and cognitive performance and pass as a nootropic and a neuroenhancer.

Kidney and Liver

Effects on kidney

The kidney is one of the human body’s most important yet neglected organs.

It acts to filter our blood of any impurities such as urine.

With aging humans, the chances of having diabetes mellitus are high.

Neglecting the high blood sugar levels from diabetes can cause kidney oxidative damage, resulting in renal or kidney failure.

In animal studies, oxidative damage can be prevented by PQQ via the adenosine 5′-monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and the forkhead box protein O3a (FOXO3a) pathway.16Karen R. Jonscheret al, Pyrroloquinoline-Quinone Is More Than an Antioxidant: A Vitamin-like Accessory Factor Important in Health and Disease PreventionBiomolecules. 202117Min Zhang et al, Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Inhibits Oxidative Stress in Rats with Diabetic NephropathyMed Sci Monit. 2020

Simply put, the pathway is essential in maintaining healthy aging of the kidneys by regulating cell production and differentiation to kidney cells, cell proliferation, and cell metabolism.18Min Zhang et al, Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Inhibits Oxidative Stress in Rats with Diabetic NephropathyMed Sci Monit. 2020

In rare inherited forms such as renal cancer, treating this type of cancer with certain anticancer drugs can cause kidney toxicity.

More studies show that this nephrotoxicity can be prevented by taking PQQ, which can be suggested for human health.19Xinhui Lin et al, Ameliorate effect of pyrroloquinoline quinone against cyclophosphamide-induced nephrotoxicity by activating the Nrf2 pathway and inhibiting the NLRP3 pathwayLife Sci. 2020

Effects On Liver

The liver is a silent organ for normal functioning and even during disease.

What is unique about this organ is its relatively rapid rate of regeneration.

Of all the organs of the human body, the liver is the greatest victim of oxidative damage, particularly mitochondrial oxidative stress.

Liver Mitochondrial Function

In animal studies, PQQ promotes mitochondrial health and prevents mitochondrial dysfunction by scavenging or destroying the free radicals caused by reactive oxygen species produced by mitochondria.20YUANQING HUANG et al, Biological effects of pyrroloquinoline quinone on liver damage in Bmi-1 knockout miceExp Ther Med. 2015

fatty liver and oxidative damage

Another source of oxidative stress is from high-fat foods.

Consuming high-fat foods consistently can cause fatty liver and can even be worsened with aging.

Fat in the liver can be another source of damage from free radicals.

In studies, taking PQQ can improve the metabolism of fats in liver cells and can protect the liver from oxidative stress and injury, preventing fatty liver.21Kai Qiu et al, Effects of Pyrroloquinoline Quinone on Lipid Metabolism and Anti-Oxidative Capacity in a High-Fat-Diet Metabolic Dysfunction-Associated Fatty Liver Disease Chick ModelInt J Mol Sci. 2021

Microbiome

Maintaining the optimum microbiome is important in maintaining many features of human health biohacking such as cognitive health, memory, healthy aging, and healthy energy levels.

To maintain the optimum gut environment of our friendly bacteria, it is important to prevent damage to the intestinal wall.22Karen R. Jonscheret al, Pyrroloquinoline-Quinone Is More Than an Antioxidant: A Vitamin-like Accessory Factor Important in Health and Disease PreventionBiomolecules. 2021

In studies, PQQ alleviates damage to the intestinal wall, specifically, the mucosal wall that protects the intestines from bacterial penetration.23Karen R. Jonscheret al, Pyrroloquinoline-Quinone Is More Than an Antioxidant: A Vitamin-like Accessory Factor Important in Health and Disease PreventionBiomolecules. 2021

PQQ, also a widely known antioxidant, prevents damage to the mucosal barrier by maintaining activities of antioxidative enzymes such as glutathione peroxidase and total superoxide dismutase.24Caiyun Huang et al, Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Alleviates Jejunal Mucosal Barrier Function Damage and Regulates Colonic Microbiota in Piglets Challenged With Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coliFront Microbiol. 2020

In addition, PQQ can also help in maintaining a healthy immune system in an event that there is infiltration of bacteria by promoting macrophage function and promoting the competence of the immune system.25Jacob E Friedman et al, Pyrroloquinoline quinone prevents developmental programming of microbial dysbiosis and macrophage polarization to attenuate liver fibrosis in offspring of obese mice Hepatol Commun. 2018

Cardiovascular

In the heart, reactive oxygen species, disruption of new mitochondria production, and mitochondrial dysfunction can lead to myocardial dysfunction.26Xuan Xu et al, Pyrroloquinoline quinone can prevent chronic heart failure by regulating mitochondrial functionCardiovasc Diagn Ther. 2020

Enhancing mitochondrial function is important for the heart to maintain optimum cardiac function.

In early research, PQQ was studied in animal models, reproducing those that are prone to myocardial ischemia.

This tests the effects that PQQ may have on myocardial infarct size and on cardiac function especially in the onset of acute heart attack.

It was found out that PQQ can help the cardiac muscle by reducing the size of the infarct of the heart muscle and can help scavenge free radicals, preventing oxidative damage.27Bo-Qing Zhu et al, Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) decreases myocardial infarct size and improves cardiac function in rat models of ischemia and ischemia/reperfusionCardiovasc Drugs Ther. 2004

More research shows that PQQ can help promote mitochondrial function by preventing oxidative damage to the heart muscle and the promotion of mitochondrial health.

It can be used as a mitochondrial enhancer in this case. 28Xuan Xu et al, Pyrroloquinoline quinone can prevent chronic heart failure by regulating mitochondrial functionCardiovasc Diagn Ther. 2020

Antioxidant

Much is said about the benefits of PQQ on the different organ systems but central to how PQQ works is through its antioxidant function.

Much of the body’s aging, cognitive decline, and problems in memory are caused by oxidative damage to the organs in the body and is a normal part of the process of aging.29Kei Ohwada et al, Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) Prevents Cognitive Deficit Caused by Oxidative Stress in RatsJ Clin Biochem Nutr. 200830YUANQING HUANG et al, Biological effects of pyrroloquinoline quinone on liver damage in Bmi-1 knockout miceExp Ther Med. 201531Min Zhang et al, Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Inhibits Oxidative Stress in Rats with Diabetic NephropathyMed Sci Monit. 202032Darrell Sawmiller et al, Beneficial effects of a pyrroloquinolinequinone-containing dietary formulation on motor deficiency, cognitive decline and mitochondrial dysfunction in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s diseaseHeliyon. 2017

But this can be prevented by taking antioxidants such as PQQ.

In various clinical research, PQQ acts as a free radical scavenger, meaning it is out there hunting down free radicals that circulate in the body and is even more potent than Vitamin E.33Karen R. Jonscheret al, Pyrroloquinoline-Quinone Is More Than an Antioxidant: A Vitamin-like Accessory Factor Important in Health and Disease PreventionBiomolecules. 2021

Free radicals are caused by reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS), and are byproducts of the body’s normal biochemical reactions.34Yasue Yamada et al, Effects of pyrroloquinoline quinone and imidazole pyrroloquinoline on biological activities and neural functionsHeliyon. 2020

This antioxidant activity of PQQ can help in many organs and all cells can benefit from PQQ.

Mitochondrial Function

PQQ is a known mitochondrial enhancer in maintaining mitochondrial health.

Mitochondria are cells energy producers and are vital in producing ATP, a basic unit of energy used by all cells of the body.

Unlike CoQ10, PQQ is a known compound to influence the production of new mitochondria and also, like CoQ10, helps in preventing mitochondrial dysfunction.35Juan D. Hernández-Camacho et al, Coenzyme Q10 Supplementation in Aging and DiseaseFront Physiol. 2018

One way that PQQ helps maintain mitochondrial health is the prevention of mitochondrial oxidative stress, protecting the mitochondria from intensive oxidative stress.36Xing-qin Zhou et al, PQQ ameliorates D-galactose induced cognitive impairments by reducing glutamate neurotoxicity via the GSK-3β/Akt signaling pathway in mouseSci Rep. 2018

The mitochondria are also victims of damage from lipid oxidation with fat being a source of energy.

PQQ also helps regulate fat metabolism and in so doing, helps protect the mitochondria from combating intensive oxidative stress.37Kai He et al, Antioxidant and pro-oxidant properties of pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ): implications for its function in biological systemsBiochem Pharmacol. 2003

PQQ, acting as a coenzyme, supports the enzymatic reactions within the mitochondria to promote the production of ATP.38Karen R. Jonscheret al, Pyrroloquinoline-Quinone Is More Than an Antioxidant: A Vitamin-like Accessory Factor Important in Health and Disease PreventionBiomolecules. 2021

Cognitive Health Benefits of PQQ

Memory

In human studies, the PQQ supplements were taken as a measure of cognitive performance based on composite memory, verbal memory, reaction time, complex attention, cognitive flexibility, executive function, and motor speed.39Winyoo Chowanadisai et al, Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Stimulates Mitochondrial Biogenesis through cAMP Response Element-binding Protein Phosphorylation and Increased PGC-1α ExpressionJ Biol Chem. 2010

It was then concluded that taking PQQ supplements can help in improving memory, attention, judgment, and cognitive function in maintaining cognitive health, especially in the middle-aged and the elderly.40Yoshiaki Shiojima et al, Effect of Dietary Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Disodium Salt on Cognitive Function in Healthy Volunteers: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group StudyJ Am Coll Nutr. 2021

Neurogenesis (NGF)

The neurons exhibit neuroplasticity, a unique property that allows for neurons to create synapses with each other in the event of brain injury and neurodegeneration.

But the lesser known fact of the brain is that even as adults, the brain is still capable of neurogenesis of the formation of new neurons and is the premise of the actions of PQQ.41Ashutosh Kumar, MD et al ADULT NEUROGENESIS IN HUMANS: A Review of Basic Concepts, History, Current Research, and Clinical ImplicationsInnov Clin Neurosci. 2019

PQQ can be used as a nonvitamin growth factor that can help produce the nerve growth factor (NGF), a key protein in stimulating neuronal growth in some medically peer-reviewed studies.42Karen R. Jonscheret al, Pyrroloquinoline-Quinone Is More Than an Antioxidant: A Vitamin-like Accessory Factor Important in Health and Disease PreventionBiomolecules. 202143Yasue Yamada et al, Effects of pyrroloquinoline quinone and imidazole pyrroloquinoline on biological activities and neural functionsHeliyon. 2020

Neuroprotection

Neuroprotection PQQ is one of the modes of action of PQQ that help to maintain the brain’s healthy aging.44Karen R. Jonscheret al, Pyrroloquinoline-Quinone Is More Than an Antioxidant: A Vitamin-like Accessory Factor Important in Health and Disease PreventionBiomolecules. 2021

Further research on neuroprotection by PQQ prevents oxidative damage by scavenging free radicals, preventing neurodegenerative diseases and neurologic damage.45Yasue Yamada et al, Effects of pyrroloquinoline quinone and imidazole pyrroloquinoline on biological activities and neural functionsHeliyon. 202046Darrell Sawmiller et al, Beneficial effects of a pyrroloquinolinequinone-containing dietary formulation on motor deficiency, cognitive decline and mitochondrial dysfunction in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s diseaseHeliyon. 2017

Another factor of neuroprotection is maintaining blood flow to the brain tissue, preventing ischemia and infarction.

PQQ acts to promote tissue perfusion by reversing occlusion of the brain vessels.47Karen R. Jonscheret al, Pyrroloquinoline-Quinone Is More Than an Antioxidant: A Vitamin-like Accessory Factor Important in Health and Disease PreventionBiomolecules. 202148Bo-Qing Zhu et al, Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) decreases myocardial infarct size and improves cardiac function in rat models of ischemia and ischemia/reperfusionCardiovasc Drugs Ther. 2004

How Pyrroloquinoline quinone PQQ Works In The Brain

PQQ works in the brain in many ways: as an antioxidant, brain enhancer, and nerve growth factor.

As an antioxidant, PQQ scavenges free radicals in the brain, preventing oxidative damage to the brain tissue which is the cause of aging and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease.49Yoshiaki Shiojima et al Effect of Dietary Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Disodium Salt on Cognitive Function in Healthy Volunteers: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group StudyJ Am Coll Nutr. 202150Kei Ohwada et al, Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) Prevents Cognitive Deficit Caused by Oxidative Stress in RatsJ Clin Biochem Nutr. 200851Darrell Sawmiller et al, Beneficial effects of a pyrroloquinolinequinone-containing dietary formulation on motor deficiency, cognitive decline and mitochondrial dysfunction in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s diseaseHeliyon. 2017

In this light, PQQ acts as a neuroprotective agent.52Karen R. Jonscheret al, Pyrroloquinoline-Quinone Is More Than an Antioxidant: A Vitamin-like Accessory Factor Important in Health and Disease PreventionBiomolecules. 2021

In stroke and traumatic brain injury, the resulting damage to the brain can also be a root cause for oxidative damage, furthering the injury to the neurons.53Karen R. Jonscheret al, Pyrroloquinoline-Quinone Is More Than an Antioxidant: A Vitamin-like Accessory Factor Important in Health and Disease PreventionBiomolecules. 202154Lili Zhang et al, The Neuroprotective Effect of Pyrroloquinoline Quinone on Traumatic Brain InjuryJ Neurotrauma. 2012

As a brain enhancer, PQQ promotes the production and function of mitochondria in the neurons.55Winyoo Chowanadisai et al, Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Stimulates Mitochondrial Biogenesis through cAMP Response Element-binding Protein Phosphorylation and Increased PGC-1α ExpressionJ Biol Chem. 2010

This results in increased ATP production from the enhanced oxidative phosphorylation by the nerve cells.

Increased brain energy levels coupled with protection from reactive oxygen species would translate to better memory, cognition, attention, and judgment. 56Yoshiaki Shiojima et al Effect of Dietary Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Disodium Salt on Cognitive Function in Healthy Volunteers: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group StudyJ Am Coll Nutr. 2021

As a nerve growth factor, PQQ can promote neuronal growth by activating pathways in the brain that promote increased expression of genes that allow for neuronal growth and neurogenesis.57Ashutosh Kumar, MD et al, ADULT NEUROGENESIS IN HUMANS: A Review of Basic Concepts, History, Current Research, and Clinical ImplicationsInnov Clin Neurosci. 201958Yuji Itoh et al, Effect of the Antioxidant Supplement Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Disodium Salt (BioPQQ™) on Cognitive FunctionsAdv Exp Med Biol. 2016

Best PQQ Supplements

Qualia Mind

Qualia Mind Nootropic Stack

Qualia Mind is a supplement that contains not only PQQ supplement but also many ingredients, including 6 nootropic compounds, 7 neuro-vitamins, 2 antioxidants, 6 adaptogen extracts, 5 amino acid, and 2 choline donors.

These are geared towards neurohackers who would like to improve their memory, focus, concentration, and cognitive health for a variety of tasks such as highly intensive work schedules and multitasking.

The product supports long-term brain health by supporting nerve synapse formation, increased acetylcholine signaling from the choline donors to produce more acetylcholine, improves brain mitochondrial function, and enhances stress resilience.

Here is the link for more product information: https://neurohacker.com/shop/qualia-mind

Performance Lab® Energy

Performance Lab® Energy is a product that contains MicroActive® Q10, BioPerine®, BioPQQ®, and Bio-Enhanced® nutrition technology.

Each of the products ingredients, Magnesium, Acetyl L-Carnitine, Microencapsulated R-Lipoic Acid, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), and Piper nigrum fruit all act synergistically to enhance the body’s mitochondria by promoting mitochondrial biogenesis, and the synergism of CoQ10 and PQQ in promoting mitochondria function.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine and R-Lipoic Acid both act to promote lipid metabolism and promote optimal cellular energy metabolism.

Magnesium is a cofactor needed for ATP synthesis and is an important bioactive metal.

Piper nigrum offers to boost metabolism by absorption of healthy nutrients and optimizes energy expenditure.

Here is link for more product information: https://global.performancelab.com/products/energy

DoubleWood Supplements

Food Sources Of PQQ

There are a lot of PQQ rich foods out there to maintain overall health and a healthy life, and most of them are plant foods.

Here are some of the great sources of PQQ if you want a more natural way of getting PQQ:

  • Kiwi
  • Green peppers
  • Parsley
  • Tofu
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Oranges
  • Tomatoes
  • Bananas
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Green Tea
  • Human breast milk

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Author

Erik Abramowitz is a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP), Naturopathic Doctoral student, health coach, and father. He is the primary content creator for HolisticNootropics.com and the host of the Holistic Nootropics Podcast.

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