Last modified on October 23rd, 2023
Pyrroloquinoline quinone or PQQ is a supplement gaining a lot of attention right now. What is PQQ used for?
PQQ may help improve mental focus, energy levels, and longevity. There is a growing body of evidence that speaks to these benefits.
Below we go into more detail to answer “what is PQQ used for” and provide you with what you should know about this potentially powerful supplement as far as human health and brain health.
An Overview of PQQ
PQQ is also called methoxatin. The vitamin-like compound occurs naturally in certain foods like kiwi, green peppers, and spinach in human breastmilk and soil. The supplement is known as a powerful antioxidant. PQQ is also thought to affect several cellular processes, including protecting the nerve cells from damage.
Some evidence shows it supports the proper function of the mitochondria. Mitochondria are the structures within your cells that help you produce energy from the food you eat.
If you take PQQ as a supplement, it’s considered a nootropic. A nootropic is something used as a supplement to improve brain functions. People take nootropics to help with mental focus, motivation, creativity, and memory.
In supplement form, PQQ is made through bacterial fermentation. These supplements are available as tablets, lozenges, capsules, and soft gels. The compound is similar in function to B vitamins.
It’s technically a cofactor, meaning it helps enzymes do their jobs.
Researchers have found that animals with diets deficient in PQQ limit reproduction and growth.
What is PQQ Used For?
So, what is PQQ used for? The following is a list of some of the benefits of this powerful compound.
Chronic inflammation is common and also incredibly detrimental to health.
Chronic inflammation contributes to most chronic illnesses, including diabetes and cancer.
PQQ may reduce inflammation and symptoms of conditions related to it. One animal study found that mice who were given PQQ had significantly less inflammation damage to their brain tissue compared to a control group.
Obese mice given PQQ during pregnancy and lactation had offspring with fewer inflammatory markers in their liver tissue. Their offspring were also less likely to express inflammatory genes.
In a small study of 10 people, the effects of PQQ supplements on common markers of inflammation were studied, including C-reactive protein or CRP. CRP levels dropped significantly.
More research is needed to fully understand the supplement’s benefits for inflammation.
This vitamin-like compound may help slow down the deterioration of joints in both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
A fairly recent study published in the journal Inflammation showed PQQ could have a protective effect on joints.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your body’s immune system attacks the cells in your joints. This effect leads to the release of inflammatory enzymes and cytokines—the enzymes damage the cartilage and the bone.
Rheumatoid arthritis can also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and issues with cardiac function and lead to a number of other harmful inflammation-related effects.
In a research study, a group of cells not receiving PQQ treatment had higher levels of proinflammatory cytokines. The cells receiving PQQ had decreased production of proinflammatory cytokines.
In an animal study, researchers looked at the effects of PQQ on two mice groups.
One group of mice received PQQ injections. The other group didn’t. After 45 days, there was a significant difference in the protection against inflammatory degeneration. Researchers noted increased inflammatory cell infiltration, narrowing of the space between the joints, and cartilage damage in the group not receiving PQQ.
Because of the impressive results, researchers theorize PQQ could also help treat other inflammatory conditions.
Around 33% of people in the U.S. 65 and older are affected by osteoarthritis. Scientists now recognize that the underlying causes of osteoarthritis are more similar to rheumatoid arthritis than they originally thought.
In an animal study of rats, both receiving PQQ and not, the vitamin-like compound group had significantly less severe cartilage damage.
Improved Mitochondrial Function
Another answer to “what is PQQ used for” is to help with mitochondrial function.
Mitochondria produce the energy your cells need to stay healthy and function at an optimal level. When you have poor mitochondria, function it’s linked with conditions including cancer, mental decline, heart disease, and diabetes.
The ability to improve mitochondrial health may be why PQQ has so many broadly described health benefits, including improving energy, sleep, and memory.
PQQ increases cellular mitochondria production through complex pathways in both test-tube and animal studies.
In a study of 17 people taking 20 mg of PQQ daily, there were significant self-reported improvements in fatigue and sleep quality. The study’s authors believe it could be due to the influence of PQQ on mitochondrial health.
There are certain ways we can hack our cells to turn off the process of aging. Reducing carb and calorie intake is part of this, but so is using certain supplements.
The anti-aging effects of PQQ likely go back to the impact on mitochondria above. Mitochondria are located in your cells, and they convert the food you eat and the oxygen you take into energy. Mitochondria are critical energy producers responsible for energy metabolism and play a role in fat metabolism.
When you age, the number of mitochondria you have declines—their ability to function declines as well.
This effect leads to less energy.
Research shows that most degenerative diseases related to aging are rooted in mitochondria dysfunction.
Everything that happens in our cells requires energy input. Your mitochondria produce more than 90% of that energy.
If your mitochondria aren’t able to meet the cellular energy needs of your body, then things start to decline. That can lead to later effects, including type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and other conditions.
It’s possible that when you improve the health of your mitochondria, you can improve health across all of your body’s systems and organs.
In a small study at the University of California at Davis, scientists gave people in their 20s and 30s a PQQ supplement based on weight. Typical doses range between 10 and 20 mg. After taking PQQ for just three days, tests showed study participants had improved mitochondria functioning.
PQQ As a Nootropic
Brain cells have higher concentrations of mitochondria than most of the other cells in your body. Every brain cell can have anywhere from two to thousands of mitochondria, each having its own DNA. Increasing the number of mitochondria gives you more cellular energy that you can use throughout your day.
Researchers think PQQ plays a role in neurogenesis, meaning it helps form the growth of new neurons by stimulating nerve growth factor or NGF.
PQQ protects against oxidative damage by protecting against DNA damage and cellular death. Taking it as a supplement reduces inflammation in your brain and protects your brain from cellular death.
There is evidence PQQ can revive and save brain cells damaged from beta-amyloid proteins that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline.
Specific nootropic benefits of PQQ include helping with cognitive function and efficiency, keeping your brain cells healthy, and improving memory. It may also help repair damage strokes cause to the brain.
A study in Japan looked at the effects of PQQ as a supplement on measures of stress, fatigue, quality of life, and sleep.
In that study, people taking PQQ had improvements in anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion. Measures for quality of life, pain, and obsessive tendencies also improved.
How to Take PQQ
If you’re going to take PQQ as a supplement, it tends to have cumulative benefits and effects. That means that while the benefits can be immediate for some people, it could take a few months of using it to see maximum benefits.
Most supplements have a recommended dosage of 10 to 20 mg. You can take it every day or every second day. You might start with 10 mg and work your way up to 20 mg.
Taking PQQ with CoQ10 has a synergistic effect that can improve the benefits of both.
My personal favorite PQQ supplement is from Seeking Health. The Seeking Health supplement line is incredibly high-quality and is formulated by Dr. Ben Lynch. With each lozenge of Seeking Health’s PQQ, you get 20 mg of BioPQQ.
- Bioavailable form of PQQ
- High 20 mg dose
- Formulated by Dr. Ben Lynch
- Seeking Health has an excellent reputation among supplement brands
Overall, there aren’t currently any major known side effects of PQQ, but talk to your doctor and follow the dosage instructions on the package.
Final Thoughts—What is PQQ Used For?
PQQ is a supplement that packs a lot of power. The supplement is considered a nootropic because of the positive benefits on mitochondria, including the ones found in the brain. PQQ may help reduce inflammation, improve quality of life and reverse the effects of aging.
By improving mitochondrial health, you might reduce the likelihood of developing degenerative diseases associated with aging and feel better overall.
People taking PQQ often report better memory, especially when combined with CoQ10 and improved energy levels.
With the potentially very promising outcomes of the available clinical studies and clinical trials, it’s likely going forward, we’re going to see more human studies assessing the beneficial effects of PQQ, especially on enhanced-mitochondria-related functions.