PQQ and Mitochondrial Function

CalerieHealth™ Nutritionalist
Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD

PQQ has been shown to have many neuroprotective benefits, which are directly linked to how it interacts with your mitochondria. If you’re considering taking supplemental PQQ for your brain health, it can be helpful to understand exactly how it works in your body at the cellular level.

What are Mitochondria?

Mitochondria are the energy powerhouses of all the cells throughout your body. Here, food nutrients are converted into energy. Specifically, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is generated as a chemical energy source for your cells. 

Additionally, mitochondria are in charge of communicating important signals between cells. For example, they are heavily involved in signaling apoptosis, or cell death. 

Interestingly, mitochondria can also generate heat in the body through a process called proton leak. This is a type of thermogenesis, or bodily heat production, which doesn’t involve physical shivering. 

PQQ and Mitochondria

As you can see, your mitochondria carry out a large number of important functions in the body. PQQ can be used to support optimal mitochondrial functioning and even their availability. 

Supplemental PQQ is also a nootropic, which means that it targets your brain function. This is beneficial for your mitochondria because there happen to be a large concentration of them in your brain. 

PQQ stimulates a process called mitochondrial biogenesis, in which the function of existing mitochondria is improved and new mitochondria are formed. Because mitochondria are responsible for so much energy production and cellular signaling, increasing their presence and streamlining their activity is good for your brain. More mitochondria can translate to more brain energy and improved cognitive function. 

Of course, mitochondria aren’t only found in your brain, they’re in every cell of the body. Some studies have examined the effects of PQQ supplementation on mitochondrial biogenesis in areas like skeletal muscle, which could have beneficial impacts on exercise endurance. 

Why Mitochondrial Health Matters

As mentioned, your mitochondria are responsible for energy production and signaling throughout your entire body. PQQ supplementation may help optimize these processes and have targeted effects in different areas. But why else does supporting the health of your mitochondria matter so much?

Poor mitochondria function has been associated with common conditions like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases. The ability to adapt to constantly, and often abruptly, changing conditions in the body is imperative for normal cellular function and disease prevention. 

Healthy mitochondrial function may also be important for optimal sleep patterns, which are in turn associated with overall health. In a small 8-week study conducted in 2012, researchers found that when 17 people took 20 mg of PQQ daily, they reported significantly improved sleep quality and less fatigue. While more research is needed, it’s possible that sleep improvements were related to PQQ effects on mitochondrial health. 

While exact mechanisms are still being researched, there’s no doubt that PQQ appears to promote healthy mitochondria. This can have far-reaching effects throughout your body, such as increasing brain energy and potentially improving sleep patterns and even reducing risk for disease. 

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