Pyrroloquinoline quinone â€” or PQQ â€” has recently gained a lot of attention in the health and wellness sphere.
PQQ supplements are claimed to increase energy levels, mental focus, and longevity, but you may wonder whether thereâ€™s any merit to these claims.
This article explains everything you need to know about PQQ supplements, including the evidence behind their possible benefits.
What is PQQ?
PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone), also called methoxatin, is a vitamin-like compound that exists naturally in soil and a variety of foods, including spinach, kiwi, soybeans, and human breastmilk (1).
How it functions
PQQâ€™s exact function in humans remains somewhat undetermined, but itâ€™s renowned for its potent antioxidant effects. Itâ€™s also thought to be involved in a variety of cellular processes, including protecting nerve cells against damage (2, 3).
Whatâ€™s more, PQQ supports proper mitochondrial function and the cellular development of new mitochondria, though its exact mechanisms are still unclear (2).
Mitochondria are specialized structures inside your cells that are responsible for producing energy from the foods you eat.
What are PQQ supplements?
When taken as a supplement, PQQ is classified as a nootropic. Nootropics are substances used to enhance brain functions like memory, mental focus, motivation, and creativity (4).
PQQ supplements are manufactured via a unique bacterial fermentation process. The PQQ is harvested from certain bacteria that naturally produce this compound as a byproduct of their metabolism (5).
PQQ supplements are typically sold as capsules or soft gels, but theyâ€™re occasionally available as chewable tablets or lozenges.
PQQ is a natural compound found in a variety of foods. It acts as an antioxidant and supports healthy mitochondrial function. Itâ€™s taken as a supplement to promote brain function.
Potential benefits of PQQ supplements
Although PQQ is essential for human health, thereâ€™s limited evidence that the supplemental form provides any meaningful health benefits.
That said, early research suggests that PQQ may help reduce inflammation and improve mitochondrial function.
May help lower inflammation
Early research indicates that PQQ has anti-inflammatory effects. In turn, these properties may reduce your risk of various inflammatory ailments.
One animal study found that mice given PQQ had significantly less inflammatory damage to brain tissue, compared with the control group (6).
In another study in obese mice treated with PQQ during pregnancy and lactation, their offspring exhibited significantly fewer inflammatory markers in liver tissue and were less likely to express inflammatory genes than the offspring of mice that didnâ€™t get PQQ (7).
One small, 3-day study in 10 people evaluated the effects of taking a daily PQQ supplement on common markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and blood sugar and cholesterol levels (8).
CRP and IL-6 levels dropped significantly, but no meaningful changes in cholesterol or blood sugar occurred (8).
Although these results are promising, the data isnâ€™t strong enough to suggest that PPQ treats or prevents inflammatory conditions. Thus, more research is needed.
May improve mitochondrial function
Recent research on PQQ largely focuses on its mitochondrial effects.
Mitochondria are responsible for producing the energy that your cells require to stay healthy and function optimally. Poor mitochondrial health is implicated in a variety of common conditions, including mental decline, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer (9).
Experts note that enhanced mitochondrial health may be behind many of the broad health claims associated with PQQ, such as improved memory, energy, and sleep.
Several test-tube and animal studies indicate that PQQ increases cellular mitochondria production via several complex pathways, but almost no evidence suggests a similar effect in humans â€” or which health benefits would be derived from it (2, 10, 11).
Still, a small, 8-week study in 17 people found that taking 20 mg of PQQ daily resulted in significant self-reported improvements in sleep quality and fatigue (12).
Due to a lack of evidence, more research is needed.
Test-tube and animal studies suggest that PQQ may favorably affect inflammation and mitochondrial health, but further research is necessary.
Dosage and possible side effects
When considering things like dosage and adverse effects, bear in mind that PQQ hasnâ€™t been rigorously tested in humans.
Due to a lack of robust data, no set PPQ dosage recommendation exists.
However, the available research suggests that results may be seen from doses as low as 5 mg per day (13).
Likewise, its side effects arenâ€™t fully known, as very few human studies have examined this substance. Yet, toxicology studies indicate that PQQ poses a risk of kidney damage when taken at very high doses (14).
As such, you shouldnâ€™t take more than the amount recommended on the packaging.
Itâ€™s still unclear whether PQQ interacts negatively with any medications. Consult your healthcare provider prior to adding PQQ to your supplement regimen, especially if youâ€™re taking any other medications or supplements.
No set dosage information for PQQ exists, and insufficient studies exist to fully examine its side effects. Excessive doses may increase your risk of kidney damage.
Should you take it?
Currently, not enough strong evidence is available to warrant taking PQQ.
Eating plenty of PQQ-rich foods, such as spinach, parsley, carrots, oranges, tomatoes, bananas, dark chocolate, and green tea, is likely enough to get adequate amounts (1).
Still, PQQ supplements carry few risks. Consult your healthcare provider if you decide to take it, and be sure to choose a high quality product thatâ€™s tested for purity and potency by a third-party organization like NSF International or the United States Pharmacopeia (USP).
Currently, there isnâ€™t enough evidence to justify supplementing with PQQ, and you can likely get plenty of it from your diet. However, the risks of trying it are relatively low.
The bottom line
PQQ is a compound that plays a vital role in human health.
Itâ€™s found in a variety of foods, including dark chocolate and green tea, and PQQ supplements are said to improve brain health, energy levels, and longevity. Yet, current research doesnâ€™t support these benefits.
While test-tube and animal studies indicate that PQQ may reduce inflammation and promote mitochondrial health, more research is needed.
Although the lack of evidence suggests that thereâ€™s no need to supplement with PQQ, the risks of doing so are minimal if youâ€™re interested in trying it.