Your mitochondria are the “batteries” that supply power to your cells, and thereby to your body.
However, as you age your mitochondria can become damaged or dysfunctional.1 Also, the number of mitochondria available to your cells decreases.
Age-related mitochondrial dysfunction is linked to an array of health problems, including cognitive decline, cancer, insulin resistance, macular degeneration and more. But a little-known natural health secret can get to the root of the problem and help your body create healthy, new mitochondria. Here’s what you need to know…
This little-known natural health secret is called pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ).
PQQ is a water-soluble vitamin-like compound. It’s found in certain plants, yeast, bacteria, and human breast milk. It was first isolated in 1979 as a cofactor for enzyme reactions in bacteria.2
PQQ is important when it comes to the health of mitochondria. Mitochondrial dysfunction can cause signs of aging and interfere with organ and tissue function. The organs with the highest energy requirements are the hardest hit, including your brain, heart, kidney, liver, pancreas, retina, and musculoskeletal system. But PQQ helps stimulate the creation of new mitochondria and the removal of damaged ones.3
How PQQ Supports Your Mitochondria
PQQ strengthens your mitochondria in at least three ways. PQQ:
- Improves enzyme activity, which in turn increases energy production.4
- Improves mitophagy in animals – which means it clears out old and defective mitochondria.5 Damaged mitochondria must be cleaned out to safeguard cell survival.6
- Creates new mitochondria by activating a protein called PGC-1 alpha. A study of healthy men in a six-week aerobic training program showed that those receiving 20 mg of PQQ daily more than doubled their PGC-1 alpha levels. The placebo group had a significantly smaller increase of this protein.7
It’s no surprise PQQ has been dubbed the “longevity vitamin” by leading nutritional scientists.
In animals used to study longevity, PQQ increased lifespan by an average of 30 percent.8,9 What’s more, a diet rich in PQQ promotes growth and reproduction in animals.10,11 On the other hand, rats deprived of PQQ experience reduced growth. PQQ also helps the brain.
Promotes Brain Health
While the research is still early, PQQ is a neuroprotective compound that might be able to help you maintain memory and cognition throughout your years. Mitochondrial dysfunction is a hallmark of both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.12 Mitophagy (clearing of old cells) is also impaired in these two brain conditions.
Animal studies suggest that PQQ protects against the loss of dopamine neurons needed for regulating movements, a process that’s compromised in Parkinson’s disease.13
PQQ can also protect nerve cells from beta-amyloid, the sticky plaque that’s linked to Alzheimer’s disease.14 In addition, another animal study suggests that PQQ could reduce brain damage when taken before or shortly after a stroke.15
PQQ appears to be beneficial for heart health too.16
Love Your Heart with PQQ
When researchers gave PQQ to animals after a heart attack, they reduced the amount of tissue damage. And this was true whether PQQ was given before or after the heart attack. This suggests that PQQ given within the first few hours of a heart attack might dramatically help patients. Of course, this has not yet been tested in humans.17
Also in animals, researchers compared PQQ with a beta-blocker, which is often used for reducing blood pressure. Both PQQ and the beta-blocker protected from heart muscle dysfunction. But only PQQ favorably reduced cellular damage, and its effects were better. Researchers concluded that PQQ is better than beta-blockers when it comes to protecting the heart—again, at least in animals.18
PQQ Can also Help Fight Cancer
There’s general controversy in medical circles surrounding the use of antioxidant vitamin supplements for cancer.
Some claim they encourage cancer growth, despite the myriad of studies that point to specific antioxidants promoting apoptosis—or cancer cell death. What’s more, research suggests cancer patients live better and longer when they supplement with antioxidants.
Remember, surviving cancer is not just about killing the cancer, but also about surviving any toxic conventional therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation.
Supplements such as PQQ are shown to protect your brain and heart, both of which take a tremendous hit during chemotherapy. In addition, studies show that PQQ helps regulate cellular function and trigger apoptosis in cancer cells.19
Still, a team of scientists at Children’s Research Institute of UT Southwestern (CRI) suggests that cancer cells preferentially slurp up antioxidants to promote their own growth, based on mice studies. But cancer coach Michael Hope has helped many people with brain tumors, breast and stomach cancers, multiple myeloma, and more.
In his experience, supplementing with antioxidants is sort of a double-edged sword, where cancer markers initially rise before dropping dramatically. For example, in a small group of five women, the three on PQQ in addition to THC/CBD noticed an increase in palpable tumor size and increased markers initially. They were worried but stayed the course.
After six weeks of PQQ all their cancer markers plummeted. The other two women who were only on the THC/CBD added PQQ at that point. And at their six-week mark, their markers also dropped dramatically.20 Mr. Hope reports that 20mg of PQQ twice a day increased cancer cell death.
Obviously, this is a small group, and the evidence is anecdotal at best.
While the research on PQQ is still very early, the results are promising. In addition, it appears to be completely safe. Research has found that a 20 mg daily supplement of PQQ produced no adverse side effects in a group of 154-pound men.
Also, studies showed that 20 mg reduced inflammation in average weight men, which is the same dose suitable for enhancing mitochondria. By supporting your mitochondria, you promote your overall good health.
Choosing a PQQ supplement is the best way to increase your levels. While it’s likely that your body absorbs some PQQ via your diet – most probably from higher-PQQ foods such as fermented soybean products, spinach, green tea, and kiwi fruits, the amount you get from even the best PQQ-rich foods is far less than what you’d get from a supplement. The typical dose from a supplement is five mg to 20 mg.
- Rossmann MP, Dubois SM, Agarwal S., et al. Mitochondrial function in development and disease. Dis Model Mech. 2021 Jun 1;14(6).
- Naveed M. The Life History of Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ): A Versatile Molecule with Novel Impacts on Living Systems. International Journal of Molecular Biology. 2016;1(1)
- Jonscheer KR, Stewart MS, Alfonso-Garcia A, et al. Early PQQ supplementation has persistent long-term protective effects on developmental programming of hepatic lipotoxicity and inflammation in obese mice. FASEB J. 2017 Apr;31(4):1434-48.
- Ma W, Zhang R, Huang Z, et al. PQQ ameliorates skeletal muscle atrophy, mitophagy and fiber type transition induced by denervation via inhibition of the inflammatory signaling pathways. Ann Transl Med. 2019 Sep;7(18)440.
- Burtscher J, Millet GP, Place N, et al. The Muscle-Brain Axis and Neurogenerative Diseases: The Key Role of Mitochondria in Exercise-Induced Neuroprotection. Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jun 17;22(12).
- Hwang PS, Machek SB, Cardaci TD, et al. Effects of Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) Supplementation on Aerobic Exercise Performance and Indices of Mitochondrial Biogenesis in Untrained Men. J Am Coll Nutr. 2020 Aug;39(6):547-56.
- Wu JZ, Huang JH, Khanabdali R, et al. Pyrroloquinoline quinone enchances the resistance to oxidative stress and extends lifespan upon DAF-16 and SKN-1 activities in C. elegans. Exp Gerontol. 2016 Jul;80:43-50.
- Sasakura H, Moribe H, Nakano M, et al. Lifespan extension by peroxidase and dual oxidase-mediated ROS signaling through pyrroloquinoline quinone in C. elegans. J Cell Sci. 2017 Aug 1;130(15):2631-43.
- Simmons EC, Scholpa NE, Schnellmann RG. Mitochondrial biogenesis as a therapeutic target for traumatic and neurodegenerative CNS diseases. Exp Neurol. 2020 Jul;329:113309.
- Sonninen TM, Hamalainen RH, Koskuvi M, et al. Metabolic alterations in Parkinson’s disease astrocytes. Sci Rep. 2020 Sep 2;10(1):14474.
- Kim J, Kobayashi M, Fukuda M, et al. Pyrroloquinoline quinone inhibits the fibrillation of amyloid proteins. Prion. 2010 Jan-Mar;4(1):26-31.
- Zhang Y, Feustel PJ, Kimelberg HK. Neuroprotection by pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) in reversible middle cerebral artery occlusion in the adult rat. Brain Res. 2006 Jun 13;1094(1):200-6.
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