PQQ is one of the more recently studied substances that can provide numerous benefits to our mitochondria. Not only can PQQ protect mitochondria from damage, it can actually stimulate growth of new mitochondria! This of course will provide our bodies with more energy and promote longevity and increased health span.
PQQ has been classified as a vitamin as well as a cofactor that can benefit the body by providing protection to nerve cells, promotion of nerve growth and mitochondrial biogenesis (growth of new mitochondria). PQQ also enables the mitochondria to run more efficiently; ie to more effectively generate energy for our body. If healthy mitochondria can produce more energy, having healthier and more numerous mitochondria may be even more effective. PQQ can increase mitochondria by up to 20 – 30% in animals, which can lead to even greater neuroprotective properties, as well as improvements in overall metabolism and repair.
Research shows that PQQ can improve mitochondrial function as well. It can increase mitochondrial density to provide more energy, reduce inflammation, boost metabolism, reduce oxidative stress, improve fertility, and improve learning and memory. PQQ is involved in energy production in the mitochondria by catalyzing redox cycling- the ability to catalyze repeated oxidation and reduction reactions in the cell and in the mitochondria. These are the processes involved in electron transfers in the Krebs Cycle, the intricate pathway that generates ATP in our cells. ATP is the basic energy source that provides power for all our cellular processes that occur every minute of every day.
PGC-1 Alpha is a transcriptional co-activator that regulates genes involved in energy metabolism and therefore regulates many mitochondrial related events in energy production. PQQ seems to be involved with PGC-1 Alpha and therefore with the regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis itself. PGC-1 Alpha is also a factor that regulates muscle fiber type, the regulation of cholesterol homeostasis, obesity and blood pressure. It is also associated with a reduction in free radicals and protection against toxins. PQQ has positive effects on PCC-1 Alpha effects in this regard as well. PQQ also appears to be able to reduce cancer risk through separate mechanisms. PQQ has been shown to activate other transcription factors such as an NRF 1 and and NRF 2, which lead to increased mitochondrial biogenesis.
PQQ may also be an essential cofactor in one of the protein units that make up complex 1 of the electron transport chain, which is the ATP production factory of the mitochondria. As most free radicals that are produced in the mitochondria are produced at complex 1, it’s clear that PQQ can optimize mitochondrial health. PQQ has also been shown to improve reproduction, early physical development, growth, and immune function. PQQ can increase mitochondrial density to provide more energy, reduce inflammation, boost metabolism, reduce oxidative stress, improve fertility, and improve learning and memory. PQQ can also reduce damage from re- perfusion injury after heart attacks and strokes, and therefore plays in important role in cardiovascular health.
Newer studies have shown that PQQ can optimize brain function and delay brain aging. It does this by reducing neurotoxic damage to the brain, improving blood flow to the brain, and protecting brain tissue and the endothelium from glucose damage (glycation). This latter mechanism is very interesting as we are now discovering the adverse effects of abnormal glucose levels on the brain- Alzheimer’s is now being referred to as Type III Diabetes. Abnormal glucose levels and glycation have been linked to the formation of the toxic tau and beta-amyloid proteins seen in Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases. Finally, there seems to be a memory enhancing effect of PQQ. PQQ may assist in the growth of new nerve cells and new synapses by stimulating nerve growth factor, and provide neuroprotection and anti-inflammatory effects. All of these are of course important in optimizing brain health!
How to get PQQ?
Many foods contain good amounts of PQQ, such as papaya, green tea, green peppers, carrots, cabbage, breastmilk, and tofu. However, cocoa powder appears to have the most (over 800 mcg per kg)- yet another reason to eat quality dark chocolate! Check out my other blog post on the benefits of dark chocolate and how to pick a good one! Supplementation with 10 to 20 mg a day is a solid daily dose. Effects are greatly enhanced with the addition of Coenzyme Q10, which makes sense because CoQ10 is also involved in electron transfer mechanisms in complex 1 of the electron transport chain. I will discuss CoQ10 in another post! There you have it- the basics of a key mitochondria booster- PQQ. I hope you enjoyed this post and stay tuned for the next one!