Don't let the peculiar name throw you off—pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) is a vitamin-like nutrient that shows a lot of promise for boosting mental performance and memory.

PQQ has been shown to help protect against self-oxidation of the DJ-1 gene, which is associated with the onset of Parkinson's disease.

PQQ has been shown to help protect against self-oxidation of the DJ-1 gene, which is associated with the onset of Parkinson's disease.

This naturally occurring compound is an essential cofactor in cellular functions and has been found in all plant foods analyzed to date. Parsley, green peppers, kiwi fruit, papaya, and tofu are especially rich sources, containing 2-3 mcg per 100-gram serving. Green tea provides the same amount per 4-oz serving.

PQQ Puts the Squeeze on Free Radicals

Studies show that PQQ is a key regulator of cellular function and is capable of neutralizing free radicals to a much greater degree than many other antioxidants, including vitamin C.

When PQQ is omitted from diets in animal studies, it leads to growth impairment, compromised immunity, and abnormal reproductive function. The daily requirement of PQQ seems to be similar to that for folic acid (400 mcg). As with other essential nutrients, the immune system seems particularly sensitive to low levels of PQQ.

PQQ Increases Energy and Supports Healthy Aging

Another key action of PQQ involves mitochondria, the energy-producing compartments in our cells. In addition to PQQ's powerful antioxidant effect, the nutrient also promotes the generation of new mitochondria within aging cells, a process known as mitochondrial biogenesis. This effect makes PQQ ripe for further study in the anti-aging field.

See also: PQQ for Energy and Brain Health 

Why Your Brain Loves PQQ

Current research has focused primarily on PQQ's ability to protect memory and cognition in both aging animals and humans. Here are some of the effects noted in the animal studies involving PQQ:

  • Blocks the formation of several compounds that are extremely damaging to brain cells.
  • Protects against the self-oxidation of the DJ-1 gene, an early step in the onset of Parkinson's disease.
  • Protects brain cells against oxidative damage.
  • Reverses cognitive impairment caused by chronic oxidative stress and improves performance on memory tests in animal models.
  • Protects the brain against neurotoxicity from glutamate, mercury, oxidopamine (a potent neurotoxin used by scientists to induce Parkinson's in laboratory animals), and other powerful toxins.
  • Prevents the development of a protein associated with Parkinson's disease.
  • Protects nerve cells from the beta-amyloid protein, which has been linked with Alzheimer's disease.

3 No-Brainer Ways to Improve Focus & Memory

Take fish oils. High-quality fish oil supplements can help improve brain function as well as help ward off Alzheimer's disease. Use a product that contains around 1,000 mg of combined EPA and DHA daily. Some brands contain more EPA to DHA and vice versa. 

Eat blueberries. Blueberries and other berries are rich in plant pigments known as anthocyanidins that have been shown to improve mental function in numerous clinical studies.

Control your blood sugar. The brain is critically dependent on a constant and steady supply of blood sugar (glucose). When people are on the blood sugar rollercoaster, it's difficult to stay focused and concentrate. One supplement that can help even out blood sugar is PGX, a highly purified fiber extract.

See also: Blood Sugar Blues?

Michael T. Murray, ND is the author of more than 30 books on natural health, including The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Third Edition. He is regarded as one of the world's top authorities on natural medicine, and he is a sought-after lecturer and educator. Visit him online at doctormurray.com.

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