PQQ benefits for health - Exploring the available evidence

Learn the ins and outs of PQQ, an antioxidant said to positively affect brain health, boost energy, and reduce inflammation.

 PQQ Benefits for Health - Exploring the Available Evidence
What to know
  • PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone) is an antioxidant compound found in soil and various plant foods with potential benefits for mitochondrial health, energy production, inflammation, and cognition.

  • Research suggests PQQ may provide these benefits via its influence on mitochondrial health. However, studies are limited mostly to test tube or animal research studies.

  • PQQ supplements may be considered if you don’t eat enough PQQ in food, but an optimal dosage has not been identified.

  • Compared to other longevity supplements like CoQ10 and Urolithin A in Mitopure, CoQ10 boasts more human research, but Urolithin A is backed by the most studies in terms of longevity support.

  • PPQ has the potential to support longevity, but more human research is needed to confirm the extent of its benefits, how it works, and possible risks.

In the ever-evolving world of longevity supplements, PQQ is one compound on the radar of many. PQQ, or pyrroloquinoline quinone, is a vitamin-like antioxidant compound naturally found in soil and various plant foods garnering attention for its potential role in mitochondrial health and energy production, inflammation, and cognition.

Given the role of mitochondrial health in longevity, you may be curious if you should add PQQ to your longevity supplement stack and if vitamin-like benefits can be seen from taking PQQ supplements and foods.

Read on to learn more about PQQ, whether you should take a PQQ supplement, and how it compares to other longevity ingredients like Mitopure.

About PQQ

PQQ, also known as methoxatin, is a naturally occurring vitamin-like compound in the soil and various plant foods. It is said to work most similar to vitamin C, but it is a much more powerful antioxidant.[1]

Research has shown diets low in PQQ produce a vitamin-like deficiency which appears to improve with adding PQQ back into the diet.[2]

PQQ is considered a longevity nutrient, but it is also taken for its nootropic or brain-boosting effects.

PQQ potential benefits for health

A few potential PQQ benefits for health have been investigated, including its potential to promote energy production, longevity, and cognitive health. Its role in energy and longevity is attributed to its influence on mitochondrial health.

It's important to note that most of the studies on PQQ have been done in animal and cell models, and there is still much to learn about its impact in human health.

As a comparison, other longevity nutrients like Urolithin A have clearly demonstrated benefits in clinical trials.

P.Q.Q. And Mitochondrial Health

Mitochondrial health

The health of our mitochondria is imperative for daily energy production, our ability to utilize nutrients from our food, and for healthy aging. If we don't do anything to stop it, our mitochondria will start to decline in number and function as we age.

In addition to the evidence-based mitocuetical Urolithin A found in Mitopure®, PQQ is another molecule used to address aging-related mitochondrial damage. Via its antioxidant capabilities, PQQ neutralizes harmful free radicals, unstable molecules that can build up and contribute to early aging and disease.

Test tube and animal studies have indicated PQQ increases mitochondrial biogenesis (creation of new mitochondria). [3]However, human research on mitochondria nutrition, PQQ, and mitochondrial health, in general, is very limited.

Due to the limited studies, it is difficult to say how powerful an effect it may have on humans or how it may work to provide these potential benefits.

P.Q.Q. And Brain Health

Cognitive health

Cognitive health and memory is another emerging area of PQQ research, especially given that cognitive dysfunction appears to be increasing worldwide. Studies suggest that PQQ may help promote cognition by protecting nerve cells, [4]increasing blood flow to the brain, and activating mitochondria.[5]

One recent human study involved 64 people ages 40-80, where half took a PQQ supplement, and half took a placebo. Those taking PQQ displayed improved measures of cognitive health such as memory, reaction time, executive function, and motor speed compared to the placebo group.

The researchers concluded PQQ may hold promise in supporting cognitive function in the aging population who feel they are becoming more forgetful. Still, most studies on PQQ and cognition are test tube or animal studies, and more human research is still needed.

PQQ rich diet

Since PQQ is found in soil, there are a variety of PQQ food sources from plants, including:[6]

  • Green tea
  • Papaya
  • Kiwi
  • Bananas
  • Fermented soybeans
  • Spinach
  • Green pepper
  • Parsley
  • Celery

Even though PQQ antioxidant functions make it act similar to a vitamin, it is not technically classified as a vitamin. Therefore, there is no recommended dietary allowance (RDA) that specifies how much we need each day.

Since PQQ in food is widespread, it is thought most people can get enough of it with a varied diet. Also, PQQ supplement benefits are still not fully understood.

Should you take PQQ supplements?

Since PQQ is readily available in food, taking a PQQ supplement is likely unnecessary unless your diet is lacking in PQQ-rich foods.

There is no set PPQ dosage for supplementation, however, the available research points to the benefits of taking PQQ in doses as low as 5 mg per day, however most supplements are sold in much higher doses.

PQQ side effects and dosage

Due to limited research, there are not many known PQQ side effects at this time. The only side effect seen so far is that PQQ may pose a risk of kidney damage in rats at very high doses of 500-1000 mg per kilogram.[7]

Alternative longevity supplements: Urolithin A’s proven benefits

PQQ supplements research on mitochondrial function in humans is still lacking, driving people to seek out molecules that have clinically validated results.

Urolithin A, the active ingredient in Mitopure®, impacts cellular energy and longevity at its core by supporting a cell recycling process called mitophagy. Clinical trials have proven its ability to upregulate this mitochondrial quality control mechanism[8]. This ensures that defective and aging mitochondria are recycled and renewed, improving their performance and, ultimately, our energy levels.

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The importance of mitophagy

Researchers are uncovering more about the role mitophagy plays in healthy aging. This understanding points to the necessity of targeting mitophagy as a foundational strategy for promoting mitochondrial health.

Urolithin A emerges as a key player in this realm, with its proven ability to enhance mitophagy. By supporting the selective recycling of mitochondria, Urolithin A ensures that cells retain their energy-producing efficiency and resilience against age-related decline. This approach not only underscores the importance of mitochondrial health in the broader context of aging but also positions Urolithin A as an essential component in the pursuit of longevity and vitality.

Mitopure’s proven benefits

Over 300 preclinical and clinical trials have attested to Urolithin A’s safety and health benefits.

Here’s what the science shows:

  • 12% improvement in muscle strength after 16 weeks[9]
  • 17% improvement in muscle endurance after eight weeks[10]
  • Topical application increases the firmness and elasticity of the skin and reduces the appearance of fine lines & wrinkles[11]
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Should you take a Urolithin A supplement?

Unlike PQQ, Urolithin A is not as readily available in the diet. Urolithin A is derived from pomegranates, raspberries, strawberries, almonds, and walnuts. However, approximately 60% of people don’t have the right gut bacteria to produce Urolithin A from food sources.[12]

Because of this, direct supplementation of Urolithin A is recommended as the best way to obtain your daily dose.

What about CoQ10?

CoQ10 stands for coenzyme Q10 and is also called “ubiquinone” due to its ubiquitous nature. It is present in almost every cell in the human body and plays a role in mitochondrial health.

People often question the role of PQQ and CoQ10 in cellular health and longevity, and while both can act as powerful antioxidants, neither has been shown to stimulate mitophagy in humans.

Final words

In the landscape of longevity supplements, PQQ may play a role in longevity, energy production, and cognitive health. However, most studies are limited to test tube or animal research, where the same benefits may not apply to humans.

In addition to PQQ, there are many other longevity nutrients out there, but only one that targets mitochondrial recycling - Urolithin A.

Learn more about Urolithin A’s benefits and how taking Mitopure, a direct dose of Urolithin A available in capsule or powder form, can fit into your healthy aging regimen.

Remember above all else, always consult your medical provider before starting a new supplement regimen.

Authors

Melissa Mitri, MS, RD

Dietitian-Nutritionist, and Health Content Writer

Jen Scheinman, MS, RDN, CDN

Reviewed by

Senior Manager of Nutrition Affairs

References

  1. WebMD Editorial. What to Know About PQQ Supplements. WebMD. Accessed April 11, 2024. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/what-to-know-about-pqq-supplements

  2. Jonscher KR, Chowanadisai W, Rucker RB. Pyrroloquinoline-Quinone Is More Than an Antioxidant: A Vitamin-like Accessory Factor Important in Health and Disease Prevention. Biomolecules. 2021;11(10):1441. Published 2021 Sep 30. doi:10.3390/biom11101441

  3. Saihara K, Kamikubo R, Ikemoto K, Uchida K, Akagawa M. Pyrroloquinoline Quinone, a Redox-Active o-Quinone, Stimulates Mitochondrial Biogenesis by Activating the SIRT1/PGC-1α Signaling Pathway. Biochemistry. 2017 Dec 19;56(50):6615-6625. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.7b01185. Epub 2017 Dec 6. PMID: 29185343.

  4. Shiojima Y, Takahashi M, Takahashi R, Moriyama H, Bagchi D, Bagchi M, Akanuma M. Effect of Dietary Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Disodium Salt on Cognitive Function in Healthy Volunteers: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Parallel-Group Study. J Am Nutr Assoc. 2022 Nov-Dec;41(8):796-809. doi:10.1080/07315724.2021.1962770. Epub 2021 Aug 20. Erratum in: J Am Nutr Assoc. 2022 Aug 2;:1. PMID: 34415830.

  5. Guan S, Xu J, Guo Y, Ge D, Liu T, Ma X, Cui Z. Pyrroloquinoline quinone against glutamate-induced neurotoxicity in cultured neural stem and progenitor cells. Int J Dev Neurosci. 2015 May;42:37-45. doi: 10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2015.02.008. Epub 2015 Feb 19. PMID: 25702528.

  6. Kumazawa, T et al. “Levels of pyrroloquinoline quinone in various foods.” The Biochemical journal vol. 307 ( Pt 2),Pt 2 (1995): 331-3. doi:10.1042/bj3070331

  7. Nakano M, Takahashi H, Koura S, Chung C, Tafazoli S, Roberts A. Acute and subchronic toxicity studies of pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) disodium salt (BioPQQ™) in rats. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2014 Oct;70(1):107-21. doi: 10.1016/j.yrtph.2014.06.024. Epub 2014 Jul 1. PMID: 24995591.

  8. D'Amico D, Andreux PA, Valdés P, Singh A, Rinsch C, Auwerx J. Impact of the Natural Compound Urolithin A on Health, Disease, and Aging. Trends Mol Med. 2021 Jul;27(7):687-699. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2021.04.009. Epub 2021 May 21. PMID: 34030963.

  9. Singh A, D'Amico D, Andreux PA, et al. Urolithin A improves muscle strength, exercise performance, and biomarkers of mitochondrial health in a randomized trial in middle-aged adults. Cell Rep Med. 2022;3(5):100633. doi:10.1016/j.xcrm.2022.100633

  10. Liu S, D’Amico D, Shankland E, et al. Effect of Urolithin A Supplementation on Muscle Endurance and Mitochondrial Health in Older Adults: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(1):e2144279. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.44279

  11. Topical application of Urolithin A slows intrinsic skin aging and protects from UVB-mediated photodamage: Findings from Randomized Clinical Trials D D’Amico, AM Fouassier, J Faitg, N Hennighausen, M Brandt, D Konstantopoulos, C Rinsch, A Singh medRxiv 2023.06.16.23291378; doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2023.06.16.23291378

  12. Singh A, D'Amico D, Andreux PA, Dunngalvin G, Kern T, Blanco-Bose W, Auwerx J, Aebischer P, Rinsch C. Direct supplementation with Urolithin A overcomes limitations of dietary exposure and gut microbiome variability in healthy adults to achieve consistent levels across the population. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2022 Feb;76(2):297-308. doi: 10.1038/s41430-021-00950-1. Epub 2021 Jun 11. PMID: 34117375; PMCID: PMC8821002.

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These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. References: *Nutrition studies: 500mg Mitopure® have been shown to (1) induce gene expression related to mitochondria function and metabolism and (2) increase the strength of the hamstring leg muscle in measures of knee extension and flexion in overweight 40-65 year olds. Data from two randomized double-blind placebo-controlled human clinical trials. **Nutrition NOURISH Study: 500mg Mitopure® have been shown to deliver at least 6 times higher Urolithin A plasma levels over 24 hours (area under the curve) than 8 ounces (240ml) of pomegranate juice in a randomized human clinical trial.

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