Last updated on
33 comments

I took 10mg of PQQ: here’s what happened

Article at a Glance
  • PQQ is marketed as a mitochondrial enhancing supplement, but more research in humans is needed.
  • There is some evidence that PQQ lowers LDL-C as well as TMAO, a gut metabolite linked to heart disease.
  • When we used PQQ, we noticed a significant uptick in mood, energy and focus.
  • To increase bioavailability, PQQ supplement manufacturers add MCTs, lecithins and Ubiquinol to PQQ formulas. It is important to understand the impact of these added ingredients when taking PQQ.
PQQ Supplements Experience

PQQ Science Score

Part of my job here at Gene Food is playing guinea pig with new supplements. As I’d yet to try the much heralded pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ), I figured it was past time to give this ostensible mitochondria booster a go.

Because PQQ is a potent supplement, it is offered in low doses, hence my rather small 10mg experiments.

I first took PQQ (made by Jarrow) alongside 1,000 mg of vitamin C. The Tesla supplement alongside the horse and buggy supplement, why not? After taking a day off after the first dose, I took my second dose of PQQ with 200mg of Ubiquinol as it is supposed to improve PQQ bioavailability. Since that time, I have begun taking PQQ, on average once a week, as a regular part of my supplement regimen.

As I update this blog post, I have taken PQQ approximately 8 times. I can tell you that it’s a strong supplement.

With my first dose, I felt an impact right away with the energy boosts lasting for an entire day. However, as I will discuss, my concern is that PQQ may cause drops in energy in the days after supplementing for some people. In a few cases, I did notice an “afternoon lull” when taking PQQ. After a few hours of significant energy benefits, I’d hit a valley for a few hours where I almost wanted to take a nap, but the episodes pass and I usually close out the day on a high note. Interestingly, a girlfriend of mine took a dose of PQQ and it instantly calmed her and put her to sleep.

Before I delve more into my experience, some background on PQQ.

Why PQQ?

PQQ is all the rage in the functional health world as a mitochondrial enhancer. However, PQQ is also a new supplement and we don’t have any real data on how it affects people long term, so I’ve brought in the heavy guns, AKA Aaron, to help breakdown the science on PQQ, along with a Gene Food Science Score.

What is PQQ and what does it do?

Thanks, John.

Put simply, PQQ is a redox cofactor… which isn’t particularly helpful I know, so let me elaborate.

Let’s break that statement down some; redox is the shorthand for reduction-oxidation, these balanced reactions involve the reduction of one (or many) molecule and the oxidation of another.

Importantly, these reactions also involve the swapping of electrons between molecules, which you can read as a means of transferring energy.

These reactions are absolutely fundamental to life. Think photosynthesis which involves the reduction of carbon dioxide into sugars in plants (essentially transferring energy from the sun to the plant), and the reactions which occur within our mitochondria to generate energy by breaking down these sugars (transferring energy from the plant to us). I won’t go into much detail about these reactions as they are rather long and complex containing many different steps, with each one of these steps driven by a particular enzyme.

Enzymes function to speed up or facilitate natural reactions and they often require a cofactor to function. Cofactors are small molecules, often metal ions, but sometimes more complex structures which interact with an enzyme and allow it to function optimally. Historically, there were thought to be just two redox cofactors, flavin (from riboflavin or vitamin B2) and nicotinamide which are both used by our mitochondria to generate energy.

PQQ is a novel third redox cofactor which is found in foods like kiwi fruit, green tea, green peppers and herbs such as parsley, and the fermented soy product nattō (R). It is unclear whether we can synthesize PQQ ourselves, with some suggesting that we source it solely from our diet, others arguing that is produced by bacteria living in our gut and yet others claiming we produce a low level ourselves.

What are the proposed benefits of PQQ?

PQQ Science Score

As John alluded to, the current data surrounding the use of PQQ in humans is rather limited, with just two published clinical trials (R,R).

Both these studies utilized a PQQ disodium salt (sold as BioPQQ) at a dose of 20 mg/day (pretty big dose). In the first study the authors report on a reduction in LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, while in the latter they report on improved cognitive function. Given it’s role as a redox cofactor, and that we know how energy intensive powering the brain is, we can hypothesize that PQQ is achieving this by stimulating mitochondrial action, however there are no human studies confirming this effect. There is however a paper which did demonstrate a positive effect on mitochondrial efficiency in broiler chickens of all things (R).

It’s therefore difficult to determine a science score for PQQ, given its promising results, but lack of human evidence, a rating of six, feels appropriate. However, this is definitely one to watch as numerous studies are likely underway which may result in an improved rating.

I’ll hand back over to John now so he can report on how he felt about supplementing.

How PQQ Made Me Feel

The first time I took it, it took about 45 minutes for me to feel the effect of PQQ, which was pleasant. The main difference I noticed was in the quality of my focus.

Improved focus

I felt a stronger, more sustained focus, and a greater interest in the task I was involved with while I was doing it. As I was in line for some white tea at a local coffee shop, the words “sledgehammer focus” came to mind. For the sake of this blog post, let’s say that sledgehammer focus is the ability to drop weight behind your work and get after a task with sustained quality.

For a multi tasker like myself, one of the hallmarks of my less productive days is reduced focus. I get on my phone, start checking email, and bam, I am out of deep work mode and sprinting on the digital hamster wheel: social media to email, back to the NY Times, Venmo, Instagram.

You get the idea.

On my best days, I am able to do the deep work I want to do and stay there to finish off the details with a Bhagavad Gita, Karma Yogesque detachment (your right is to action alone, never its fruits). Creativity was enhanced, focus was enhanced, and I would say there was an almost “happy hallucination” like effect as well.

Almost as if you’d taken a small dose of CBD/THC.

Improved mood

PQQ is also supposed to improve mood. I noticed a subtle, but tangible uptick in mood and outlook the first time I took PQQ. As I continued to experiment with PQQ, especially during the times I took a ubiquinol and PQQ blend (which has only been on a couple occasions) the mood boost was even more tangible and lasted into the next day.

Sustained energy

On the days I took PQQ, I felt a noticeable and significant uptick in energy levels.

PQQ and Exercise

I have mixed emotions when it comes to mitochondrial enhancing supplements and exercise. On the one hand, it’s nice to get a boost of energy that can lead to better performance. On the other hand, sometimes the “pop” that these supplements give is too much and I’d prefer to be working out without the help of a stimulant. PQQ gives me an energy boost for an entire day, albeit with an occasional afternoon lull, but I did find that doing a workout after having taken PQQ was a bit much, I almost felt too energized.

PQQ and Ubiquinol

The second time I took PQQ, it was alongside Ubiquinol, which is supposed to increase bioavailability of PQQ, but I felt that the effect was weaker with the Ubiquinol. However, this may have had nothing to do with the Ubiquinol as many people have reported diminishing returns the longer they take PQQ. The consensus is that it needs to be cycled. And as I mention above, when I took ubiquinol and PQQ at later times, I did notice a strong effect.

PQQ Side Effects

As I mentioned at the outset of the post, both days I took PQQ, I must say that I felt amazing, however, after the second dose I noticed an afternoon energy crash.

Even Joe Cohen at Self Hacked, which is a well researched, albeit very pro supplement blog, has suggested cycling PQQ, that it is not for everyday use.

Discussion boards on Dave Asprey’s PQQ product, Unfair Advantage, mention decreased efficacy the longer PQQ is taken.

PQQ and Heart Health

As Aaron, eluded to above, there is a study that links PQQ to a drop in LDL-C, however, the most interesting thing to me about PQQ’s potential as a supplement that improves cardiovascular health is evidence it may decrease trimethylamine N-oxide (TMAO) levels.

As I mentioned in my post on phospholipids and curcumin, elevated TMAO has been linked to heart disease, with a New England Journal of Medicine Study finding that both L-carnitine and lecithins are metabolized by our gut bacteria into TMAO. (R) In a tiny study of 5 men and 5 women, PQQ supplementation caused a reduction in a number of different inflammatory markers, including TMAO:

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.

How to choose a PQQ Supplement

I have listed the three best PQQ supplements on the market below. However, choosing between these three is easy for me. I’ve written about it so much that I have become a broken record, but I generally stay away from supplements that encase nutrients in liposomal formulas.

Why?

Because lecithins and phospholipids can increase levels of TMAO. If PQQ reduces levels of TMAO, and that is a primary driver of the decision to consider it in your supplement regimen, it doesn’t make a ton of sense to take preparations that are encased in lecithins, and many of the blends are. For example, the Jarrow formula that adds Ubiquinol, also adds medium chain triglyceride fats as well as sunflower lecithin. For that reason, I usually stay away and opt for the basic 10mg Jarrow formula.

However, if you don’t take PQQ often and aren’t as concerned about lipid and heart health metrics, you may get added energy benefits from one of the phospholipid blends. Of these formulas, I have taken both Jarrow formulas, but have yet to take the Bulletproof Unfair Advantage product.

PQQ supplement comparison

BrandDoseFormulaQuantity
Jarrow + Ubuiquinol100mg ubiquinol, 10mg PQQUbiquinol and pyrroloquinoline quinone disodium salt with medium chain triglycerides and sunflower lecithin60/ct
Jarrow Plain PQQ20mg PQQPyrroloquinoline quinone disodium salt with cellulose, magnesium stearate and silicon dioxide30/ct
Unfair Advantage300mg caprylic acid triglycerides, 20mg CoQ10, 10mg PQQCaprylic acid triglycerides from highly refined coconut oil (Bulletproof Brain Octane oil), phosphatidylcholine, palmitic acid, oleic acid, ubiquinone, pyrroloquinoline quinone30/ct

Jarrow + Ubiquinol (MCT and lecithin blend)

Despite the fact that Ubiquinol is also a mitochondria booster, and despite the fact that Ubiquinol is said to make PQQ more potent, the additives in this formula (lecithin, MCTs) push us in the direction of the plain quinone disodium salt listed below, which is also half as expensive for the same amount of capsules.

Jarrow Plain PQQ (Recommended)

“Plain” PQQ, just the quinone disodium salt, which is what I took for my experiment. Again, as an everyday supplement, or for regular use, this product has the advantage of giving a clean, albeit possibly lower bioavailable dose, of PQQ. The metric I am keeping an eye on is TMAO. If I had access to a lab that regularly tested TMAO, and I found my levels were normal, I might experiment more with Ubiquinol, but until then, I am playing it safe.

Unfair Advantage (Caprylic acid and CoQ10 blend)

Dave Asprey at Bulletproof also makes a PQQ product called Unfair Advantage. Dave mixes his blend with 300mg of caprylic acid fats as well as 20mg of CoQ10, also aimed at increasing bioavailability. My take on the fat fad is that we want more avocado, salmon and walnut in our diets, not more refined coconut oil, but you be the judge.

As we’ve written about in our MCT oil post, caprylic acid can have some health benefits, and it’s probably a step up from lecithin. However, the Amazon reviews are not very good.

Closing thoughts

As Aaron pointed out, we don’t have the full mechanism yet behind PQQ, and there have been very little in the way of human studies. Evidence of cardiovascular benefits are particularly exciting to me, so I will keep experimenting in small doses, even though I may ultimately shelve PQQ if it causes energy troughs as it seems to after initial uses.

I don’t think this is an everyday supplement for most people.

With the rise of importance of serum TMAO levels as a marker for heart disease, I’d be fascinated to see a study that looked at the levels of TMAO in those taking PQQ vs. a placebo group.

John O'Connor

John O'Connor is the founder of Gene Food and an Integrative Health Coach, trained at Duke IM. He lives in Austin, Texas.

The very latest on genetics, nutrition and supplements delivered to your inbox!

33 Comments

Leave Comment

  1. Gene says:

    John…

    Could it be actually age related with what you are experiencing with PQQ? That the younger you are your body? It will have the ability to adjust and tell you to stop because its not that much needed.. than say, for a 70 year old?

    That the frequency of use may be age regulated? Apparently younger people are not experiencing the same rate of mitochondrial degeneration as an older person. No?

    The older person’s body may keep saying… “more.. more.” While yours tells you.. “Stop for a while.. You do not require all this at this time.”

    Gene ….. (Thanks for the food for thought)

    • Gene, thanks for the comment, and it’s certainly a possibility. There isn’t a ton of research on PQQ, so we don’t know a ton about how it affects people, both long and short term. I also readily concede that my personal experiment was less than scientific as I introduced a few other “lifestyle variables” that could have caused the energy dips. I will update next time I try PQQ…

      • LP says:

        You haven’t queried PQQ through Google Scholar. There are many, many studies going back decades on PQQ. Loths of peer review and credible publication sources. Happy reading!

  2. Ryan says:

    I’m suffering from systemic whipples disease I was a respiratory therapist for 10 yrs before getting this horrible infection from a health supplement called deer antler velvet spray. It’s a nightmare I’ve spread this infection to my whole family including my kids and getting no help or treatment from the medical field they claim and I quote “it’s too rare” well rare shit happens to people believe it or not. Anything you can recommend I don’t have much money because I’ve been unable to work due to my illness and disability is on a 5 yr waiting list. I’ve tried pine needle oil, antibiotics which didn’t work, now I’m doing black walnut wormwood mixed in with my baking soda, acv, and lemon water. Also I do chamomile tea with molasses and turmeric in it too and honey every day as well. Any insight would be greatly appreciated I know your not a doctor and neither am I but I know more about this disease than they do because I’m suffering from it badly. I’ve lost all quality of life and I’m only 37 🙁

    • Ryan, wow, I am so sorry to hear your story. Guess it goes to show that, as you have said, there are significant blind spots within our medical system. I have never heard of Whipples disease, and to be honest, wouldn’t even know where to start with a protocol, and certainly wouldn’t want to recommend anything that could make things worse for you and your family. Have you been trying PQQ for this condition?

    • Pam says:

      Whipple’s disease is treated with antibiotics, and can come back . It is important to get on this early. I don’t know if Oregano oil is useful Additionally, but get the family to an MD ASAP!

    • Debs says:

      Hello Ryan,
      I read up on this disease online..sinceit responds to antibiotics you should buy some Silver Sol…I’ve used SilverBioticsbrand for many years. From their research no bacteria can become resistant to silver. Also Olive Leaf & Oil of Oregano supplements kill bacterias.& viruses. You must treat this disease for 2 yrs or you could relapse.

      What brand of Deer Antler Velvet did you use? Are you sure this is what gave you Whipples Disease?

    • Shelley says:

      Hi there, I am taking Pqq-10 By Natural Factors…but found out about LDN and am taking that as well. There is lots of research on LDN (Low Dose Naltroxen), and it is cheap and from my experience unbelievable at helping a range of symptoms. Focus, joint pain, severe insomnia, and a bunch of Autoimmune illness going on and it is helping with all of it. As a matter of fact I can’t quite believe how much improved my life is in just one month!! A good website to have a look at is LDNscience. I wish you the best in finding a solution for you and your family !!

    • Bruco says:

      Ryan what you need is Mild Silver Protein. It can even be given intravenously. No known pathogen is immune to it. Get on it.

  3. Bob Kerpel says:

    Have you guys got any suggestions for people suffering from Progressive muscular Atrophy? ( think ALS). I’m at my wits end and about to try colloidial (sp), silver. THANKING YOU IN ADVANCE FOR ANY HELP I MAY GET. ………………Bob

  4. anonymous says:

    People like you who “test” something for a few days, and know nothing about the biochemistry of what is — or is supposed to be — happening to you . . . you’re idiots.

    Learn some real biochemistry. You’re a hack.

    • Ptsuzwal says:

      Hey Anonymous!
      Did you even read the post? It says right from the start this is not a scientific endeavor but a simple sharing of his experience of dosing with the supplement. I suppose you must also go on cat fancier blogs and complain that their puppies look ugly as well!

  5. Wheat says:

    I have experienced a similar effect of the increased energy that seemed to last over 12 hours, then a ‘crash’ for twice as long. Was wondering of a couple of things; I have serious endothelial dysfunction, which probably means an excess of mitochondrial damage. Would these damaged mitochondria have any effect on the biogenesis of the new mitochondria? Possibly from epigentics. Also, if there is a substantial amount of new mitochondria, would that then require specific supplemental mineral cofactors that I MAY be lacking, then creating an excess of oxidative waste? Just some thoughts.

  6. Michael says:

    Interesting article. I took 10 mg of pqq (Health Thru Nutrition bran), about two years ago. It left me so weak I was afraid to take it again. The nearly full bottle still sits there in the pantry, and I give it a glance every now and then, asking myself “should I or shouldn’t I”. I am 81 and have no otherwise health issues.

    • Cathy says:

      Some people benefit from taking it at bed time. They say it helps them have better sleep and wake with less pain and discomfort. Might be worth a try.

  7. Tami says:

    Hi I am a 53 year old menopausal woman who nursed her mom at home 10 years with Alzheimer’s.. I have a 55 year old family friend (nephews sister in law, not blood related) just diagnosed with Alzheimers and I find myself saying the wrong words for things and not knowing if it’s the menopause or I have early dementia too.. I am really interested in things written about PQQ and also one other supplement ..am allergic to kiwi though should it cause me a problem?
    Regards
    Tami U.K.

    • Peggy Karp says:

      Hi Tami, I highly recommend you read The End of Alzheimers, by Dale Bredesen, MD. You are at the perfect age and memory loss stage to use his protocol.

  8. Jack says:

    What time of day would you recommend taking PQQ? I’m a bit concerned over the possible “crash” and being that my job is quite demanding this wouldn’t be the best. Perhaps, taking it in the evening would help?

  9. James Spiazzi says:

    Hey. I was wondering if you new about the company called Stop Aging Now.Seems that they have a lot of natural products i just bought there max -q10 ultra pqq it contains 200 mg of kaneka,omega-3s l-caritine and vitamin d3 an BioPerine.Does this sound reasonable or maybe even good.These products all seem to be the cure all with no fda help how are we supposed to know unless we become human guinea pigs. Thanks Jim

  10. Hereigns says:

    Has anyone tried phoenix Nutrition brand of PQQ 20mg? I started taking mine yesterday and am nervously waiting for results. I bought this brand solely bcos it has no fillers except rice flour.
    Apart from the energy level changes, are there any other tangible side effects to watch out for?
    Thanks
    Hereigns

  11. Diane says:

    I ordered some Max-Q10 ultra pqq and started taking it the day I got it and my feet started swelling really bad I am in early stages of renal failure does the “salt ” cause this?

  12. Louis A says:

    My experience with pqq Dr Best Biopqq brand was great at first but after about 6 weeks on 20mg dose once per day has my pulse extremely high and has started raising my bloodpressure! Never had any BP issues before pqq so there definitely needs to be human studies done to know how different people will react to this supplement

  13. Michael (NW) says:

    I seemed to have bad reactions from taking 10mg pqq. The week before I was feeling good, decent mood and energy and sleep was decent. Last Sunday I started with 10mg pqq, took one Monday skipped Tuesay and then split a capsule so 5mg Wednesday and Thursday. I had terrible insomnia, felt ill like, low energy, mental fatigue and depression and some panic, arm
    pit sweats like I’ve been
    stimualtes, and this morning woke up with sinking feeling in my heat, feeling faint, weak, etc… I’m sure the lack of sleep didn’t help. Could pqq cause these symptoms? I’ve read reviews elsewhere and there’s a small amount of people who reported some negative side effects.

  14. Andrea says:

    I am a 71 yr. old woman who has taken Doctor’s Best PQQ with Bio PQQ (20 mg. daily) for the past 4 yrs. I have experienced none of the changes you described here. What I do know, and the reason I take it, is it has improved my memory greatly. I am able to remember names much easier than before taking PQQ. At my age having a good memory is very important, especially when your friends forget you are your friends! At your age you don’t need PQQ, save your money! (Or buy it for your parents (its pricey!).
    Andrea

  15. William says:

    Finish the FDA testing.
    Playing with cellular metabolism is not smart, cancer cells have an increased metabolism and take metabolites first before healthy cells.
    Promises of good effects without FDA testing is reckless.

    • Florence says:

      Hello William!! I found your comment very interesting…Would you say the same about Q10 supplements? Or these may be safe from your point of view? Thanks for sharing!!!!

  16. Bruco says:

    Ryan what you need is Mild Silver Protein. It can even be given intravenously. No known pathogen is immune to it. Get on it.

  17. Lance says:

    “I felt an energy boost” Don’t be an idiot. You probably had an extra cup of coffee that day. PQQ has NOTHING to do with energy. It’s a heart enzyme. It may provide PROTECTION from deteriorating heart condition, but the jury is still out.

Leave a Reply

Facebook icon Twitter icon Instagram icon Pinterest icon Google+ icon YouTube icon LinkedIn icon Contact icon Info icon