Several weeks ago, I mentioned in my newsletter that I take PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone) every single day.
There was a huge amount of replies and interest in the topic, so I wrote up this article about PQQ, what science says it’s good for, what some regular people say it’s good for, and how it has benefitted my life.
Before we begin, please realize that this is just a friendly conversation about a nutritional supplement that has personally helped me, and not medical advice. :)
A Brief Backstory
A few years ago, I learned that I had the “Alzheimer’s Gene” or APOE4 – which is correlated with a double to triple increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease.
I already had existing memory and attention issues that have been around most of my life (likely undiagnosed ADHD), but more recently was having some concerning memory blips. I would say something to my kids or hubby, and they would look at me funny, then tell me that I had JUST said that exact thing to them only minutes before, but I had already forgotten that I did.
It was scary for me to hear that my brain was doing this at my age! (40’s) I dove into researching APOE4, supplements, and nootropics and that’s how I found PQQ.
It is one of the most impactful things I’ve stumbled upon in my journey for a stronger brain.
My Personal PQQ Experience
I’ve been taking 10 mg of PQQ per day for over a year now, at breakfast along with my usual multivitamin (Holistic Health All in One Multi-Vitamin / Mineral).
For the first month, the PQQ didn’t seem like it was doing anything – either good, or bad.
Then one day I realized that my family members weren’t telling me that I was repeating myself any more. I checked in with each person and they all verified that I had stopped that forgetful behavior.
As an unexpected bonus a few months later, I went to pick up a pen and realized that I grabbed it firmly and securely – a long-standing hand tremor (from carpal tunnel syndrome) had completely disappeared!
To reinforce how much I need PQQ, back in late summer, I got busy and didn’t refill my PQQ for a few weeks.
Just in that short amount of time, I started repeating myself and forgetting things again and my family begged and pestered me until I ordered more.
I’m sold on the fact that PQQ does something really beneficial for my brain!
What Exactly is PQQ?
PQQ, or pyrroloquinoline quinone, is a naturally occurring nutrient that’s found in fruits and vegetables.
Plants don’t make the PQQ themselves though, it’s produced by bacteria in the soil, which the plants then absorb.
Some researchers classify PQQ as a “longevity vitamin”, or a substance that can promote a longer and healthier life. It’s an enzyme cofactor that’s active in important cellular activities, such as mitochondrial function.
Foods that are richest in PQQ include green tea, green peppers, kiwi, parsley, natto, and papaya. Even so, you get micrograms per day from foods. For a therapeutic amount, you have to take it as a supplement.
What Science Says About PQQ
There have been several interesting studies revolving around PQQ. Here are some highlights of their findings:
- PQQ is a strong antioxidant that fights free radicals. It’s kind of like Vitamin C, only more powerful in some ways.
- It protects and repairs mitochondria, and helps in the creation of new mitochondria as well. The health of mitochondria is so important, because they provide the energy that powers the very cells in our body!
- PQQ stimulates the growth of new neurons, by increasing NGF (nerve growth factor).
- A group of adults, ages 45 to 65, were given 20 mg of PQQ per day and had significant improvement in word memorization and recall tasks. The group taking PQQ + the supplement CoQ10 had even better results!
- PQQ “has the potential to prevent, or even reverse, the decline in cognitive function caused by the aging process and oxidative stress.”
- Another study showed that vigor, fatigue, tension-anxiety, depression, appetite, sleep, and quality of life were all improved after 8 weeks of 20 mg PQQ per day.
- PQQ may protect the brain from stroke damage and traumatic brain injury (though it needs to be taken before these things happen), and calm neuroinflammation.
- It may be a potential agent in the prevention and treatment of natural aging-induced osteoporosis.
- It’s also been shown to help with cognitive and mitochondrial function, and the gait disturbances in Parkinson’s Disease.
- PQQ helps increase blood flow to the part of your brain that helps thinking and memory.
What Regular People Are Using PQQ For
While science is amazing, there’s the big draw-back that research relies on funding, politics, and/or red tape to get something studied in the first place, then it may be years until potentially helpful information gets disseminated to the general public.
In the meantime, regular people like you and me who just want to feel better now, are out there trying new things to see how they work. I find it really useful when other people share their experiences online, both good and bad.
Here are a few example of people using PQQ in the real world.
- PQQ as part of a hypermobility protocol. The Cusack Protocol is a set of supplements designed to improve connective tissue and digestive symptoms in those with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS) and hypermobility. In this protocol, PQQ is taken specifically for gastroparesis, constipation, mast cell symptoms, fatigue, brain fog, eye floaters, and more.
- Increase in energy and general mood elevation when taking PQQ along with CoQ10. From the TNation forum: My Experience with PQQ.
- Better sleep. Here’s a reddit thread: PQQ has improved my sleep quality significantly. (This link will probably give you a NSFW warning, but that’s just because it talks about nootropics and supplements. Nothing racy here!)
- Better focus. This is a case example I’ve seen first hand! :) My daughter takes 10 mg/day PQQ and it greatly helps her focus and motivation to complete tasks. When I ran out of PQQ for a few weeks, she ran out too by default (since we share a bottle!) and within a day or two lost all of the focus she’d gained. She too considers it an essential supplement for her ADHD-like brain.
- Sifting through individual examples in the various private Facebook groups I’m in – sometimes people find that PQQ makes them too sleepy at first OR a few may have too much energy. In this case, reduce the starting dose and vary the time of day you take it.
- However, some people never feel any type of effect. Reddit contains several comments from people trying PQQ and seeing no differences at all. There’s some layperson speculation that you might need to be older, or have an underlying mitochondrial or other disorder to see any effect. Some continue taking it, trusting that the improvement is still happening under the surface, but most discontinue using it and move on to try other things. (Which is likely what I would do too, if it didn’t do anything noticeable for me!)
How Much & What Brand?
The recommended daily dose for PQQ is often stated to be 20 mg per day, but I personally have seen positive results taking just 10 mg per day. (I have a small frame though, and my body/metabolism usually does best with sprinkles, drops, and generally lower-than-recommended doses of most supplements and herbs.)
If you’re a sensitive reactor, it’s suggested to start with a little sprinkle, and work your way up to higher amounts each day. Some people find that 20 mg is far too strong to start with, so it’s better to work up to that rate.
PQQ is naturally found in fruits, vegetables, and breast milk, and doesn’t appear to have any major contraindications, other than the caution that extremely high doses (about 8 to 10x the usual amount) can be toxic. So please don’t go around chugging handfuls of PQQ pills!
A few people find it works better to cycle PQQ – take it every other day, once every few weeks, or take periodic breaks from daily dosing.
I take Life Extension’s 10 mg PQQ tablets, purchased directly from their website since they have a good deal where you can buy several bottles at once for a discount. (I’m not affiliated with Life Extension in any way, just a customer who uses a few of their products.)
Many people take PQQ with another supplement, called CoQ10 for an even more enhanced effect.
After reading through the research again to write this article, this week I decided to start a trial of my usual 10 mg PQQ in the morning but take another 10 mg again at lunch, along with CoQ10 (I’m trialing “Super Ubiquinol CoQ10” 100 mg/day). I’ll try this for a month or two and see if I make even more gains. If not, I’m happy with what PQQ alone does!
In summary, PQQ has been really helpful for my own memory and cognitive function, and may also be helpful to improve energy, mood, sleep, and memory, among other things. Some people will gain no apparent benefit from taking PQQ, while others may find it greatly improves quality of life.
I’m personally glad I tried it, and hope this article provides helpful information for others who are interested in researching PQQ further!
Recommended Articles to Read
Berkley College of Chemistry: A behind-the-scenes look at the longevity vitamin PQQ, by Wen Zhu.
Guan Shui, et al. Pyrroloquinoline quinone against glutamate-induced neurotoxicity in cultured neural stem and progenitor cells. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience. 2015;42:37-45.
Harris, C., et al. Dietary pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) alters indicators of inflammation and mitochondrial-related metabolism in human subjects. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 24 (2013) 2076–2084.
Huang, Y. Effect and mechanism of pyrroloquinoline quinone on anti-osteoporosis in Bmi-1 knockout mice-Anti-oxidant effect of pyrroloquinoline quinone. American Journal of Translational Research. 2017; 9(10): 4361–4374. Published online 2017 Oct 15.
Kim J, Kobayashi M, Fukuda M, et al. Pyrroloquinoline quinone inhibits the fibrillation of amyloid proteins. Prion. 2010;4(1):26-31
Koikeda T, NereNo M, and Masuda K. Pyrroloquinoline quinone disodium salt improves higher brain function. Medical Consultation and New Remedies. 2011. 48(5):1.
Kuo Y-T, Shih P-H, Kao S-H, Yeh G-C, Lee H-M (2015) Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Resists Denervation-Induced Skeletal Muscle Atrophy by Activating PGC-1α and Integrating Mitochondrial Electron Transport Chain Complexes. PLoS ONE 10(12): e0143600. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0143600
Nakano M, et al. Effects of Oral Supplementation with Pyrroloquinoline Quinone on
Stress, Fatigue, and Sleep. Functional Foods in Health and Disease 2012, 2(8):307-324
Nakano M, et al. Effect of Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) on Mental Status of Middle-Aged and Elderly Persons. Food Style. 2009;13(7):50-3.