PQQ and Coenzyme Q10 – Powerful Nutrients for Your Health

July 31, 2017 | Linda J. Dobberstein, Chiropractor, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

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PQQ and Coenzyme Q10 – Powerful Nutrients for Your Health
PQQ and CoQ10 may seem to be alike in many ways. They both provide mitochondrial and antioxidant support. Both help with heart and brain health and other organs that require a lot of energy. The difference is they do it through different mechanisms, but the beauty of PQQ and coenzyme Q10 is that they work together, like a delicate dance. Each one is important, yet they complement each other's function. New research continues to show the benefits of these powerful nutrients for brain health, diabetes, nerves, bones, kidneys, heart, migraines, and more.

What are PQQ and Q10?

PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinine) works as an antioxidant and functions like a B vitamin. Perhaps one of the most defining characteristics for PQQ is that it is involved with mitochondrial biogenesis, i.e. the birth of new mitochondria. It is also involved with the synthesis of nerve growth factor, nerve receptor function, cell membrane protection as an antioxidant, and helps the utilization of cellular oxygen. PQQ is a redox agent or an extremely powerful antioxidant, more so than other antioxidants. PQQ is considered the most powerful redox agent, as it can be used and recycled up to 20,000 times before it is depleted. It is 5000 times more potent than vitamin C as a redox agent.

Coenzyme Q10 functions as an antioxidant just like PQQ, as it scavenges dangerous free radicals. It is directly involved with the mitochondria making energy. CoQ10 acts like a spark-plug inside the mitochondria that engages the aerobic respiration process to make ATP/energy.

In short, PQQ helps make new mitochondria and coenzyme Q10 help mitochondria do their job. Both help quench free radicals and are needed by energy-intensive organs like the heart, brain, muscles, kidneys, etc. Researchers continue to study both nutrients and confirm their impressive benefits. Below are some of the more recent findings.

PQQ, Plastics and Diabetes

A wide range of PQQ studies demonstrate its effectiveness as an antioxidant against several toxins and stressors. The results and versatility of this mega-antioxidant is duly impressive. We have previously highlighted PQQ's benefits for arthritis, brain inflammation, diabetes, heart health, mitochondria, and triglycerides.

A new 2017 study showed PQQ protected beta cells in the pancreas against damage induced by toxic plastics, thereby helping insulin and blood sugar management. Researchers looked at a common plasticizer called DEHP (Di (2-ethyhexyl) phthalate), which is a compound that loosely adheres to plastic materials and easily leaks out into the environment.

Researchers found that DEHP affects the pancreas as it impairs beta cell function and insulin. DEHP disrupts mitochondria function, increases DNA migration, and damages beta cells. These are very toxic effects that lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Results of the study showed that PQQ provided measurable protection against mitochondria and beta cell damage within the pancreas.

Type 2 diabetes is primarily thought to be due to diet and lifestyle, but now we know that plastics affecting the pancreas can lead to diabetes. Our world is inundated with plastics and plasticizers. There is no doubt in my mind that this finding of plastics and plasticizers and other 21st century factors is contributing to the explosion of diabetes across the world. Thankfully, scientists have shown us that PQQ is a good tool to have on board along with the common sense of removing as much plastics from food packaging as possible.

There is another recent finding with PQQ and diabetes. Diabetes affects capillaries in the body and kidneys and nerves in the feet and hands. However, the brain is also affected by diabetes, resulting in a diabetic brain with high levels of oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and inflammation. Researchers raised the questions of how PQQ would affect the brain when it was inflamed from elevated blood sugar and diabetes as it had not been tested in this capacity before.

In a recent study, mice were given streptozotocin, a highly toxic compound to the pancreas that causes diabetes and high inflammation. (Streptozotocin was originally identified as an antibiotic and is now used for cancer treatment.) PQQ was administered at 20 mg/kg for 15 days. At the end of the study, researchers found that PQQ reduced blood sugar levels, protected against free radical stress on lipids in the brain, and improved antioxidant activity within brain.

Patients with diabetes or at risk are often intimidated and reprimanded into taking drugs like statins or metformin reduce the risk of diabetes. Studies like this are invaluable as they confirm that diabetes is more than just a need for medication. Here we see how toxic plastics and high oxidative stress that affects the pancreas and leads to type 2 diabetes. We need to have many tools like PQQ to manage the pitfalls of the modern day life.

PQQ and Traumatic Brain Injury

Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of disability and death in adults and is very difficult to treat due to the complex physiology and changes. Studies on PQQ and the brain have confirmed that PQQ provides neurological protection from non-traumatic sources. However, because brain trauma is so difficult to treat, scientists are searching for ways to improve treatment methods.

PQQ has entered the arena for traumatic brain treatment. In 2017, a novel animal study showed that PQQ protected the brain after traumatic brain injury. Study results showed that PQQ halted apoptosis (cell death) and autophagy and improved electrophysiology function as measured by an EEG (electroencephalogram). Excitotoxic chemicals like glutamate which are released after injury were quenched, essentially putting out the inflammatory fire from the brain trauma.

PQQ, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's disease

Rotenone is a common pesticide/insecticide used for centuries in the fishing industry, gardening, insect control and lice and tick control in pets. It is regarded as “safe”, yet scientists use it on brain cells to cause Parkinson's disease in rats and to study the effects. A recent study used this model to see if and how PQQ could help protect against rotenone induced neurological and mitochondrial damage, because rotenone can cause Parkinson's disease. Rat brain cells were pretreated with PQQ and then exposed to rotenone.

The results confirmed that PQQ was very helpful at preventing neurological injury induced by rotenone. PQQ treatment prior to insecticide exposure provided a much needed buffer. It prevented nerve cell death, restored mitochondrial cell membrane electrical function, and blocked toxic ROS free radical production. PQQ also helped modulate and protect genes related with nerve-mitochondrial function in the brain. 

Alzheimer's disease, like Parkinson's disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. Alzheimer's patients have a build-up of tangled proteins and plaques in the brain that are thought to be significantly related with mitochondrial dysfunction. An April 2017 study evaluated ways to restore mitochondrial function in mice that were bred to develop Alzheimer's disease. The mice were given PQQ along with a blend of blueberry extract, green tea extract, vitamin D3, and L-carnosine for 12 weeks.

At the end of the study, they found that there was less loss of motor/movement function and less cognitive impairment compared to controls. Free radicals levels declined and energy production improved. It was suggested that these nutrients should be investigated for disease therapy targeting mitochondrial function for Alzheimer's disease treatment.

PQQ, Osteoporosis, Cancer, and Dry Skin

PQQ recently surprised researchers due to its benefits in a completely different situation. In this March 2017 publication, researchers identified that PQQ supplementation prevented osteoporosis caused by testosterone deficiency. PQQ stopped oxidative stress and DNA damage. It helped support osteoblasts (bone forming cells) and inhibited osteoclasts (bone breakdown cells) leading to healthier bones. The next time that you encounter the discussion that you need Fosamax or other bisphosphonate drugs to treat your osteoporosis, think about PQQ. It can be combined with any other bone health support program.

In just a handful of studies, PQQ is considered a promising agent in cancer treatment. Very early research suggests that PQQ may contribute to tumor cell breakdown and death by its effect on mitochondria. It is also favored because of its low toxicity towards normal, healthy cells.  Cancer research studies suggest that PQQ helps to deregulate an m-TOR pathway that is involved with tumor development and in leukemia (HL-60) cells.

A previous article, PQQ – Magnificent Benefits in Multiple Arenas, discussed PQQ and connective tissues and skin. Follow up research confirms that PQQ helps dry skin. In both animal and human studies, it was found that PQQ helped improve skin moisture, elasticity, and inhibited water loss from the skin barrier. All of this helped substantially improve dry skin. The women in the study used 20 mg of PQQ per day for 8 weeks. PQQ may be taken with other nutrients that help keep skin healthy.

Coenzyme Q10 – A Long List of Benefits

Research on coenzyme Q10 as an antioxidant is just as impressive as PQQ, perhaps even more so because it has been studied since it was identified in 1940. Thousands of research studies have evaluated coenzyme Q10's effectiveness on some of the most devastating or disabling illnesses.

Coenzyme Q10 has been used alone or in combination with other nutritional supplements and even drug therapies to help prevent and treat several health concerns. These include aging, heart disease, heart failure, high blood pressure, mitochondrial disorders, obesity, diabetes, cancer, gum/periodontal disease, Parkinson's disease, migraines, kidney failure, gastric ulcers, AIDS and other immune disorders, muscular dystrophy, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, cancers, and radiation injury. Here are just a few of the recent studies on coenzyme Q10.

Coenzyme Q10 and Inflammation

In a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized-controlled trials in humans, the study published in May 2017 demonstrated coenzyme Q10's effect on inflammation. The analysis showed that CoQ10 lowered C-reactive protein (CRP), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-a). These inflammatory markers are involved with many disorders like cancer, autoimmune, chronic pain, heart disease, gut inflammation, etc. Coenzyme Q10 may be used with other nutrients like grape seed extract, curcumin, boswellia, ginger, and omega-3 fish oils that also support management of inflammation.

Kidney Failure and Dialysis

A March 2017 study evaluated the effect of high-dose coenzyme Q10 in dialysis patients which are some of the most ill patients. These are people who have end-stage renal disease and often severe cardiovascular risks. Oxidative stress is quite high. Dialysis patients given 1200 mg of coenzyme 10 resulted in a significant reduction in oxidative stress as seen with marker F2-isoprostanes. Participants in the study who received 600 mg did not reach the same benefit, which may reflect the extreme need of support to truly quench oxidative stress in end-stage diseases. There was no evidence of toxicity.

Migraines and Epilepsy

Disabling migraine disorders are often treated with toxic drugs. Coenzyme Q10 discussion and use has been making its way into neurologists offices for migraine prevention. Studies show that coenzyme Q10 is very helpful for reducing frequency of migraine headaches, shorter duration and less severe without toxic side effects. Migraine prevention often combines magnesium and vitamin B2 (riboflavin) with coenzyme Q10. Epilepsy involves neuroinflammation, oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction. Recent research shows that coenzyme Q10 along with other microglial cell inhibitors, several positive things occurred. Kindling, which is chronic, low-grade neurological inflammation that readily flares with numerous stressors, was significantly down-regulated. Oxidative damage was reversed, TNF-alpha was buffered and mitochondrial function was restored with coenzyme Q10 and other nutrients.  

Heart Failure, Muscle Weakness and Loss of Muscle Mass

As heart failure is on the rise in part due to statin drug-use, it is absolutely critical to impart the knowledge that coenzyme Q10 is perhaps the most vital nutrient to prevent this loss of health and mitochondrial damage. A long trail of studies exist that demonstrate coenzyme Q10's support for heart failure. It was confirmed by a recent meta-analysis that evaluated fourteen random control trials in patients with heart failure. This broad analysis proved that those with heart failure and who took coenzyme Q10 had better cardiac function, exercise/activity capacity than those who did not take coenzyme Q10. In addition, more lives were saved as there were fewer deaths in those who took coenzyme Q10 than those who did not.

Loss of muscle mass, also known as sarcopenia is a common concern associated with aging. The strength of our youth diminishes as each decade passes. Intentional physical activity certainly plays a role, but we may want to add coenzyme Q10 to our nutritional regime to help stave off muscle loss. A recent study identified that individuals who had low blood levels of coenzyme Q10 ubiquinol and low cholesterol had a much higher risk of muscle loss. The study did not identify statin drug use in the patients as the cause of the muscle weakness. If that were the case, coenzyme Q10 is critical in that scenario too. Here is a small selection of health articles that delve into the benefits of coenzyme Q10. More articles exist on our website.

Q10 Boosts Energy, Nerves, Muscles & Metabolism

Coenzyme Q10's Powerful New Role in Cardiovascular Health
Surprise Finding with Coenzyme Q10
Coenzyme Q10, Statins, and Heart Health
Ubiquinol Q10 Protects Eyes of Diabetic Patients
Ubiquinol Q10 Helps Fibromyalgia Patients

The array of studies that reveal the benefits of PQQ and coenzyme Q10 reaches far and wide. PQQ and coenzyme Q10 indeed parallel each other performing a choreographed dance in physiology. They help recycle each other to keep the antioxidant benefits going. They provide tandem support to the mitochondria with making new ones and then protecting them in their daily work. Organs that expend a lot of energy like the heart, brain, kidneys, and muscles require robust, healthy mitochondria and depend on key nutrients to function. PQQ and coenzyme Q10 are indeed the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the dance of energy production and protection.

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