The human brain is like no other in terms of its ability to simultaneously synthesize information and carry out complex tasks on a regular basis. While it would be naive to say that we fully understand its interrelationship with the rest of the body and our environment, modern research has made great strides to elucidate its various structures and functions. Here is a brief look at our current understanding of cognitive function and the risk factors that threaten its well-being. While a focus on memory is highlighted, all aspects of cognitive performance including language, reaction time, focus, mood and information
WHAT IS PQQ?
An exciting new member of the vitamin B family
In 2003, scientists discovered a compound called Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) that was classified as part of the B-vitamin family. PQQ is considered an essential vitamin because our bodies do not produce it and therefore it must be obtained from food or supplements. It also falls under the B-vitamin category because it plays a role in the metabolism of the essential amino acid lysine, which helps form collagen (essential to all connective tissues) and aids in the production of immune system components, hormones & enzymes.
WHAT DOES IT DO?
PQQ supports the mitochondria
Each cell contains energy-producing structures called the mitochondria. While their primary role is to produce energy (in the form of ATP), the latest evidence is clearly showing that they also are intimately connected to inflammation, microbial infections, oxidative damage and to regulating cell lifespan. It is not surprising that any state of mitochondrial dysfunction is associated with many diseases and conditions, including chronic pain, ageing, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular and neurological diseases and many others.
One of PQQs main functions is to work as an antioxidant within mitochondria, protecting them from oxidative damage.1 Preliminary evidence suggests that it may be thousands of times more powerful than vitamin C as an antioxidant as it can quench free radicals over 20,000 times while vitamin C can only do it 4 times before being used up.2 It also directly stimulates key enzymes in the mitochondria to boost energy production. The most exciting function of PQQ is that it is the only nutrient that can cause the spontaneous generation of new mitochondria within ageing cells– a process known as mitochondrial biogenesis.2 No other nutrient can do this! Some experts feel that this effect could be the “fountain of youth” for mitochondrial function.
PQQ AND THE BRAIN
Some animal trials have shown interesting effects on nerve regeneration and growth.1 A 2003 study conducted in Japan tracked elderly patients and found that there was an improvement in memory after 12 weeks when PQQ and Coenzyme Q10 were supplemented together. Scientists believe PQQ’s neuroprotective benefits are due to its antioxidant activity and ability to stimulate a powerful compound called Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) which repairs damaged nerves and promotes new growth. The Japanese study found that the antioxidant effect of PQQ was 30 times more effective than vitamins C or E.3 PQQ has also been shown to delay the shrinking of the brain with age.
To further support PQQ’s brain supportive actions, a more recent study found PQQ supplementation can directly reduce inflammation and improve mitochondrial function in human subjects.4
These benefits also make PQQ useful to improve heart function and many other chronic diseases.
HOW MUCH PQQ SHOULD I TAKE?
Since PQQ is a vitamin and can’t be produced by the body, it must be consumed. The highest amounts are found in foods such as breast milk, cocoa powder, kiwifruit, papaya, tofu and green peppers. Food sources contain microgram (mcg) doses (i.e. an average kiwi fruit contains 2 mcg of PPQ) which may be enough to prevent deficiency as part of a healthy diet. These doses are similar to other water-soluble B vitamins such as folic acid, but to get therapeutic benefits the existing research used doses of 20 mg (not mcg) or more. In neurological conditions or chronic health issues, larger milligram doses will most likely be needed.
- PQQ is a recently discovered compound that is part of the B-vitamin family.
- PQQ increases cellular energy production and nerve growth factors.
- PQQ has the unique ability to increase the number of mitochondria. No other natural substances have this ability.
- PQQ has been proven in research to improve memory and brain health in combination with CoQ10.
- PQQ is found in foods in small doses but must be supplemented to get therapeutic benefits.
1. Rucker R, Chowanadisai W, Nakano M. Potential physiological importance of pyrroloquinoline quinone. Altern Med Rev. 2009;14(3):268-277
2. Zhang L, Liu J, Cheng C, Yuan Y, Yu B, Shen A, Yan M. The neuroprotective effect of pyrroloquinoline quinone on traumatic brain injury. J Neurotrauma. 2012 Mar 20;29(5):851-64. Epub 2011 Dec 20.
3. Nakano M, Ubukata K, Yamamoto T, Yamaguchi H.Effect of Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) on Mental Status of Middle-Aged and Elderly Persons. 2007
4. Harris CB, Chowanadisai W, Mishchuk DO, et al. Dietary pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) alters indicators of inflammation and mitochondrial-related metabolism in human subjects. J Nutr Biochem. 2013;24(12):2076-2084.