8 Proven Health Benefits of PQQ


What is PQQ?

PQQ is a “Cofactor”, which just means that it helps enzymes accomplish their jobs.   There is a class of these cofactor molecules that transfer electrons, which is important for our mitochondria to produce energy.

The main cofactors that transfer electrons that you might be aware of are glutathione (NAC increases), CoQ10, FAD, Vitamin C  and NAD (Niagen NAD+ ).  These have different functions in the body, so the effects won’t all be the same, of course.

The PQQ That I Use

PQQ Snapshot

  • Longevity9.0/10
  • Inflammation8.5/10
  • Mood9.5/10
  • Cognition9.7/10
  • Energy9.6/10


  • The best mitochondrial and energy boosting supplement
  • Improves Cognitive performance
  • Improves mood and mental health
  • Improves sleep
  • Increases wakefulness


  • Good to take a break from it
  • Can be too stimulating for some
  • Possible headache if too much is taken

1) PQQ Decreases Inflammation and Free Radicals

Healthy humans who took 20mg of PQQ (for a 150-pound male) resulted in significant decreases in the levels of C-reactive protein (by 45% after 3 weeks) and IL-6.  A lower dosage didn’t decrease inflammation (R).

Various urinary markers of oxidative stress also improved, which is consistent with enhanced mitochondria-related functions (R).

2) PQQ Creates New Mitochondria: The Role of PGC-1a


Compounds reported to stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis are linked to many health benefits such increased longevity, improved energy utilization, and protection from free radicals.

Mice and rats fed diets lacking in pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) have reduced mitochondrial content. (R)

The creation of new mitochondria by PQQ occurs through the activation of CREB andPGC-1alpha, pathways known to increase mitochondrial biogenesis. (R)

As a result of activation of the PGC-1alpha pathway, PQQ increased NRF-1 and NRF-2, proteins (transcription factors) that protect us more free radicals by increasing our internal antioxidant production and can protect us from toxins, UV, etc….(R)

PGC-1a is a “master regulator” that directly stimulates genes that promote mitochondrial and cellular respiration, growth, and proliferation (R).

By increasing cellular metabolism it favorably affects blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride breakdown, and the onset of obesity (R).

3) PQQ Improves Memory and Reasoning: The Role of CREB


PQQ triggers the DNA reading protein CREB, which plays a key role in growth and gene expression.  CREB also stimulates the growth of new mitochondria and increases BDNF. (R)

It’s no wonder then that it has been shown to reverse cognitive impairment caused by chronic oxidative stress in animal models and improve performance on memory tests.  (R)

A study done on middle ages and elderly people found PQQ + CoQ10 led to a significant increase in performance in the Stroop test (measures reasoning) and reaction tests (R)

4) PQQ Improves Brain Function By Increasing Nerve Growth Factor and Schwann Cells

PQQ supplementation stimulates the production and release of nerve growth factors in cells that support neurons in the brain, a possible mechanism for the improvement of memory function it appears to produce in aging humans and rats. (R)

PQQ also Increases Schwann cells by increasing the PI3K/Akt signal pathway (R).

5) PQQ is Neuroprotective Against Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Cognitive Injuries


PQQ is a neuroprotective compound that has been shown in a small number of preliminary studies to protect memory and cognition in aging animals and humans. (R)

PQQ increases a protein (DJ-1) that is important to brain health and function.  This protein which increases cell function and survival by combating intensive oxidative stress and is likely important to brain health and function. (R)

DJ-1 mutations have been conclusively linked to the onset of rare inherited forms of Parkinson’s disease and other neurological disorders. (R)

PQQ suppresses Reactive Nitrogen Species (iNOS causes this), which spikes in strokes and brain injuries.  In this manner, it provides protection against neuro-related injuries. (R)

In animal models, administration of PQQ immediately prior to induction of stroke significantly reduces the size of the damaged brain area. (R)

PQQ also protects neurons by preventing the long-term overactivation of the NMDA receptors, which results in excitotoxicity.  Long-term, overstimulation of neurons is associated with many neurodegenerative diseases and seizures. (R)

PQQ also protects the brain against neurotoxicity induced by other powerful toxins, including mercury and oxidopamine, toxins that are suspected to cause Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, respectively. (R)

PQQ also prevents aggregation of alpha-synuclein and amyloid-beta, proteins associated with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, respectively.  It also protects nerve cells from the toxic effects of the proteins that are already there. (R)

6) PQQ Protects Your Heart Against Stroke

PQQ administration reduces the size of damaged areas in animal models of acute heart attack. (R)

This occurs irrespective of whether the chemical is given before or after the ischemic event itself, suggesting that administration within the first hours of medical response may offer benefits to heart attack victims.  It could be useful to keep this on hand in case loved ones have an incident. (R)

Researchers compared PQQ with the standard post-heart attack clinical treatment (metoprolol, a beta blocker). Both treatments reduced the size of the damaged areas and protected against heart muscle dysfunction. Only PQQ favorably reduced cellular damage (lipid peroxidation) and the effects were more significant. These results led the researchers to conclude that “PQQ is superior to metoprolol in protecting mitochondria from ischemia/reperfusion oxidative damage.” (R)

Subsequent research has also demonstrated that PQQ helps heart muscle cells resist acute oxidative stress by preserving and enhancing mitochondrial function. (R)

7) PQQ Improves Sleep, Mood, and Fatigue


PQQ improves sleep quality and lessens the time it takes to fall asleep.

One open-label human study conducted with 20mg PQQ for 8 weeks in 17 persons with fatigue or sleep-impairing disorder noted that PQQ was able to significantly improve sleep quality, with improvements in sleep duration and quality appearing at the first testing period after 4 weeks.  It also led to a decrease in the time it took to fall asleep but required 8 weeks to reach significance. (R)

This study also noted improved appetite, obsession, and pain ratings that may have been secondary to improved sleep; contentedness with life trended toward significance over 8 weeks but did not reach. (R)

While this study was done in people with sleep problems, I’ve had similar benefits without sleep issues and others have reported similar subjective experiences.

8) PQQ Decreases Insulin Resistance

PQQ alleviates fat-induced insulin resistance by increasing mitochondrial biogenesis in muscle cells, similar to exercise. (R)

PQQ also has some pro-oxidant potential by increasing hydrogen peroxide (R), but by doing this, it can inhibit an enzyme called PTP1B, which increase insulin sensitivity (R).

Mice lacking the capability of making this protein showed resistance to obesity and were more insulin sensitive.  People with breast cancer have an increased level of this protein (R).

Inhibiting PTP1B also increases the activity of epidermal growth factor.

My Experience With PQQ

I first took PQQ when only one company was selling it – life extension, which I believe was 4 years ago. However, I’ve mostly been taking PQQ for the past 2 years on and off, to make way for other experiments.   When I was having my high-fat diet meltdown, PQQ and ALCAR were the only things that had a significant impact.

  • Increased metabolic rate,
  • Increased cognitive energy,
  • Better memory,
  • Better mood,
  • Increased metacognition,
  • Works through hormesis – worsened performance from 45min-90min after ingestion, but then increased performance,

Dosing of PQQ

  • 20mg PQQ.  Only 20mg is capable of decreasing inflammation for an average weight male (R)
  • I recommend to take it every other day or daily if you are trying to correct a problem.


Favorite PQQ products:

PQQ Goes Well With

Side Effects of PQQ

  • A possible headache if too much is taken


  1. I just heard about the benefits of pqq and was quite excited over the fact that this supplement may actually help me regain some form of normalcy in my life. I have suffered with myalgic encephalomyelitis / cfs for the past 16 years, brought on from an infection that invaded my nervous system (encephalitis). For years I sought conventional medical treatment to alivate the severe symptoms of this complex disorder but to no avail. There is no cure and over prescribing medicine to make my body function proved nearly lethal. So 6 years ago I stopped all medication and basically took the wholistic approach. It’s been a tough road but at least now I’ve got a much better understanding of what is going on in my body.

    I came across your site looking for answers on pqq and I thank you for your hard work and efforts to provide people a forum to ask question and receive quality information and feedback. 🙂 In ordering a new supplement I heed on the side of caution as far as special blends, manufacturers, and safety. Much of the information on health, supplements, and studies we have today on the internet were not available just 6 years ago to everyday people. I’m sure glad big pharma lost that battle 🙂 but now we have a new one …. let me explain.

    I checked the cost of pqq on amazon today and found one that looked good from Life Extention but before I ordered it I read the comments people made about the product. (I find them informative ) anyhow, a women posted a warning to others that the PQQ formula was so amazing and how much-needed energy had finally returned to her body ….. HOWEVER … warning that the company had changed the formula which she had been on for sometime and now it made her sick. Apparently they got rid of the ALCAR and replaced it with TAURINE (people with CBS upregulation don’t need more taurine. They got rid of the B12 and replaced it with a huge (toxic) amount of B6. And even though they sold the large bottle (120) of 20mg capsules the dose was to take 4 a day? Huh I guess to do that each capsule must of been diluted or something) Her post was dated 2011.

    So you bet ya I checked the label on the product and what she said was true! The dose is 4 capsules a day … what a great deal! I think not.
    Joseph on the blog you mentioned using Pqq w/ ALCAR. And only one company sold it .. was that Life Extention? I see you recommend DOCTOR’S BEST why is that? Do you have any info pertaining to Pqq w/Alcar? Look forward to hearing from you. Thank you!

  2. This doesn’t make me feel very confident in taking these products. Can’t afford to have these kind of reactions, My husband either . Don’t know what to do now have ordered them already.

  3. Ret

    I had the same reaction as Ditrich Redge on the only two occasions of taking 20 mg. PQQ. I feel the same hypoglycemic type of absolute exhaustion. Is there something that causes the buffer to oxidative stress to become better, or conversely, how did it become poor and can it be improved? I believe I have DNA damage from statin use, that has resulted in several autoimmune problems and saw Doc Graveline talk about the benefits of PQQ in this situation. Before statins I was very healthy and active.

  4. Donita

    I am neither a scientist nor a medical doctor, but for 3 months I’ve been taking a supplement consisting of PQQ + NAC + CoQ10, and am compelled to understand what they might be doing to me. I have always been a super-energized person, and in my 66 years, I don’t recall ever having such low energy levels as I have had for the last 3 weeks. Maybe . . . very likely? . . . this has nothing to do with your conversations (above) and the study you mention which I attempted to understand. I will be wearing out my dictionaries trying to understand. Meanwhile, I feel compelled to stop taking this supplement. I don’t mean to interfere in your academic discussion: I only seek to understand.

      • Jon

        It seems to me that I read that PQQ may cause a transient dip in energy. It does sound like NAC may not be right for you (or me?). My energy level drops in the afternoon but rebounds later in the day. I don’t know if it’s PQQ, but I’d guess not as I take it in the morning. It’s more likely that it’s just sleepiness after lunch.

    • Kat

      I am taking the same as you Donita for the past 2 weeks and have felt worse too! I thought maybe I just haven;t given it enough time yet:-/ ?!?!?!?!?!?!

    • Julie Buchanan

      @Donita…I too took a supplement containing PQQ 20mg,NAC 250mg and CoQ10 50mg(?) and experienced nothing. No side effects and no improvement. YET when I stopped that one( due to the price & doubting it’s benefits) and started Life Extensions PQQ 20 and NAC 600mg (+Ubiquinol 50mg) I immediately experienced horrible side effects the next day. Brain fog, NO energy, waking 2-3 times every night, exhaustion, dehydration even though I was drinking 8-10 glasses of water, basically walking around like a zombie for a week! Stopped taking the NAC 2 days ago trying to see what the hell is causing this. Sleeping better but still no energy. I wrote to Life Extension asking them for ANY input and if others had experienced anything like I have. I will say I have tried a couple of anti-depressants in the past 2 years with the same effects- Headache, foggy thinking, feeling horrible, and stop taking them after 2-3 days. This is the first place online I’ve read anything close to what I’ve been through this past week.
      I know how important the PQQ & NAC are to the body, so I’m at a loss as to what’s happening here. I literally apologized to my boss yesterday and had to explain to her that some supplement was causing me to feel this way all week.

      *I’ll add that I’m a vegetarian and will not take products that use gelatin capsules*

  5. Joe

    What was your high-fat diet meltdown? And what were the effects of taking PQQ on that? Was the meltdown a good or bad thing? Sorry that section was a little unclear to me.

  6. Jon Busch

    I just ran across SELF-HACKED as I was seeking information on PQQ. It seems that this vitamin-like substance could be a significant modulating factor in the development of Parkinsonism based primarily on animal studies. There’s been a lot of interest in an abnormal presence of alpha-synuclein in the brains of PD sufferers and it is thought to perhaps be causative in the death or non-functioning of dopamine by cels in a specific part of the brain. Has anyone here experimented with PQQ and PD? Remember a few years ago when a preliminary study widely trumpeted by supplement makers that CO Q10 reduced PD progression? A subsequent study debunked the first one. Now we hear that PQQ combined with CO Q10 is very neurologically protective. And what about the reports from some at this site about “brain fog”? Others mention improved sleep. What has anybody found about the best time for PQQ dosing and improved sleep? I’d be very interested in seeing responses.

  7. R.H.

    You say “Don’t buy into his hype without studies to back up what he’s saying.”. And though I know you are not selling anything, most of the staff you are recommending are also not backed by science. I first got excited about your science-based approach, but man! Most of the studies you are citing are completely useless. I wanted to comment on most of the posts you’ve written, cause most of the papers have RIDICULOUSLY small sample size, NO controls, are not double-blind, and are published in some obscure journals which publish anything… It’s really disappointing. I am not saying all of them are bullshit, but the great majority. I’ve seen you criticize others for not taking science into consideration, but it is apparent from the get go that you have no rigorous scientific training. Beside, if you cared to analyze most of the articles in depth, you would realize how many flaws do they have in the”meat” of the paper. The introduction and discussion does not necessary represents the research that has been done.
    If you really want to provide your readers with correct information, based mostly on science, then I recommend you to go and train in science… You are smart, but I think you don’t understand how much you lack, and how NOT “science-based” is your approach.

    • Joseph M. Cohen

      If you want recommendations based solely on hard clinical science, this is not the blog you should be reading.

      Selfhacked is about using information produced by the body of science, including animal studies, but that’s only the start. Selfhacked is not about rigorous clinical science, although that’s certainly a plus.

      I’m more about taking the best information we have and self-experimenting. I’m making more of an effort to specify what kind of study I am citing, and I mostly do, so that people can determine the usefulness for themselves. If an animal study doesn’t make you curious enough to experiment on yourself, that’s your prerogative.

      Sophisticated readers realize this.

      When someone who is skilled in marketing and is selling a very expensive product, who has been known to hype things, and there isn’t even an animal study backing it up, or even just clear reasoning behind the product, we should be cautious.

      • Ditrich Redge

        “Luxflux, on 02 Sept 2014 – 04:19 AM, said:
        I respond very well to NMDA enhancers/glutathione enhancers (sarcosine, NAC, pregnenolone) and respond *horribly* to PQQ. I heard that it effects glutathione synthesis in some way, which probably effects the redox aspect of NMDA receptors. For me, it gave me significant brain fog about an hour after ingesting, without fail, no matter what other things I had been taking. So if you have hypoglutamatergic function(or suspect you do), be careful with this one.”

        “@Luxflux: I am very interested in your response to PQQ and how you’ve tied that to NMDA function. I also have had really awful experiences with PQQ, very shortly after taking it. I have taken two different brands, 2 small doses and one half-dose on three separate occasions without changing anything else and taken separate from any other supplements.

        I would say “brain fog” was part of it, but the experience was more like something I imagine diabetics in severe hypoglycemia experience: Couldn’t think/concentrate, irritable, weak/fatigued, super-depressed or “down” mood. The worst of this lasted for hours and didn’t really get better for another day. About an hour or two after taking, each time, there was also this unusual craving for carbs and sweets, which is not at all normal for me.

        Until I saw your post, all my research just turned up that PQQ gave results for everyone falling on spectrum somewhere between “wonderful and energy-boosting” and “did nothing.” So, I had been thinking perhaps it was a clue to some metabolic weirdness with me.

        How did you arrive at glutamatergic hypofunction as the cause? Interestingly enough, I am beginning to (cautiously) experiment with pregnenolone with very positive results. NAC is also a staple of mine.”
        -Cohen, I bought PQQ and before taking that, I want to ask you what’s going on here ?

        • Joseph M. Cohen

          PQQ might transiently increase oxidative stress..

          I used to get some symtpoms when I wasn’t as healthy. It means you buffer for oxidative stress is bad.

          • kyung

            It follows with the pro-oxidant properties of pqq as it turns back into glutathione. Depletion of intracellular glutathion levels can lead to the apotosis of cancer cells. Dark side of pqq co-exists, though. (Note that dosing and appropriate method of dosage is not well-established yet, and most studies he menthioned are actually preliminary, so not much reasons to be exited..).

    • . In Study 2, PQQ supplementation resulted in significant decreases in the levels of plasma C-reactive protein, IL-6 and urinary methylated amines such as trimethylamine N-oxide, and changes in urinary metabolites consistent with enhanced mitochondria-related functions. The data are among the first to link systemic effects of PQQ in animals to corresponding effects in humans. Find the 2013 human study on the following website. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24231099

    • Charlie

      Yes it is. If people want some very cheap things that can dramatically boost health they should buy fresh lemons at a supermarket, juice the lemons in plain water (dilute to tolerance) and drink on empty stomach twice daily for at least 4 months. This will dissolve arterial calcium faster than K-2 and pomegranate combined can remove it. EDTA is bad as it removes beneficial minerals from the body, lemon juice costs less and is superior. The single caution is if not rinsed off the teeth with plain water before several minutes have passed, enamel loss will begin (confirmed by dentist). That should suggest how beneficial it is internally. It will clear all arteries—subclavian, carotid, abdominal aorta included plus dissolve kidney stones. The limonene content from the peel squelches cancer. This is a liver boosting treatment as well. Another plus is it means no income to doctors, hospitals nor any to Pharma. Garlic is great for defeating infections and has other benefits. Ceylon cinnamon has multiple benefits including suppression of diabetes and cancer. Since it blocks blood vessel growth, it prevents tumors from growing and encourages apoptosis. Avoid the boundless greed of USA “medicine” and resort to these three modalities for protection against the biggest killers—cardiovascular, cancer and diabetes. If most people used these regularly, USA “medicine” would be reduced in dollar terms by 80% or more. And it deserves to be reduced. Naturally studies on these must transpire outside the USA as this country represents about half of the global Pharma “trade” (we are today what China was previously in the British opium “business” there).

      • Drake

        How many lemons do you need, or how many tablespoons of juice? Is organic bottled lemon juice an appropriate alternative? Also, how much garlic and cinnamon? Thank you.

  8. Mike E

    What is the difference between PQQ and BioPQQ? They both seem to have the same ingredient, namely Pyrroloquinoline quinone disodium salt. The former is significantly cheaper.

  9. Sam

    Is it necessary to take NAC with PQQ? I react badly to NAC, but do very well on PQQ. Is there an alternative to NAC? Or could I make do without it?

    • Tracey

      I started taking NAC last week. Took one 600 mg tablet two days in a row. I have never felt so lethargic. I wanted to crawl into bed. My blood pressure is usually normal and I dont take meds. It dropped to 102/65. I stopped taking it last Wednesday because I thought and felt like I had the flu. I almost (knock on wood) never get sick. I also had my lip and eyebrow twitching. Really just felt weird all around. Major brain fog. 5 days later I am finally starting to feel mostly back to normal. I bought PQQ at the same time but havent taken it yet. Should the NAC and PQQ be taken together? Or should I forget the NAC altogether and start the PQQ? Anybody else have these issues?


      • Donita

        YES, that is how I felt. I went about 4 days feeling that way, just assuming I had worn myself out. The 4th day, I picked up a project much like projects I have done for YEARS, and I could not wrap my brain around it: It was as if I didn’t even know where to start. But I was taking PQQ, NAC and CoQ10 all in one capsule, so I didn’t know which one was causing it: Thought it was the PQQ. Sadly, that supplement really made some great differences (improvements) in my health and well-being, but I have quit it until I can be sure it won’t harm me. I am thinking of trying it 3 times a week, alternating with another supplement that is just a plant-based, “light” aid to being healthy. I have small body/weight, and maybe LESS of it would be less harmful???? I wish I knew: I miss the good effects I was getting.

        • Jon

          I’m curious about PQQ and the comments about “brain fog.” Have you or anyone tried it without the NAC? Given your thoughts on PQQ benefits and comments about getting better sleep, have you thought of taking it before bed? PQQ has also been considered therapeutic in Parkinsonism.

          • Donita


            I have not tried it w/o NAC. The supplements I bought came with NAC and PQQ and CoQ10 together. It didn’t occur to me to try taking them at bedtime. I really valued the positive effects of the supplement, so if taking them at bedtime makes the difference, it is worth a try. I’ve been thinking of taking them alternate days, and I might start that way, to avoid another 4-day fog episode. Thank you for the suggestion.

        • Tracey

          I too am small framed. I am on day 3 of PQQ without the NAC. No problems and no brainfog. I may try and revisit NAC at a lower dose (maybe 300 mg) in a few days combined with the PQQ and see how that goes…

          • Julie Buchanan

            I am also small framed (5’3,120 pds.) and wonder if the 600mg of the NAC is what caused my zombie-like state for a week. 3 days off now and I’m still recovering slowly. I’m so thankful I found this blog, and your replies, since it’s the only place I’ve read reactions to these supplements similar to mine. I really want to take the PQQ & NAC due to losing both parents to Alzheimers disease. So if dosing is the issue(?) I’ll experiment with that too.

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