From skincare products to testosterone to hair restoration treatment, the anti-aging industry continues to post record returns as consumers search for the elusive modern equivalent to the Fountain of Youth.With estimated net revenues of $122.3 billion in 2013, the massive global industry adds thousands of new products and services each year. Although financially successful, many of these anti-aging items are met with skepticism by consumers because their efficacy is unproven. But stricter regulations and more exhaustive testing have given millions hope that a handful of products can deliver on their lofty promises.
Over the course of human history, there have been countless theories to explain why our bodies break down, both internally and externally, as we age. One of the most scientifically compelling theories comes from cellular biologists, who posit that the number and functionality of mitochondria help determine a person’s lifespan. To understand why their theory may hold water, let us briefly review the basics of cellular energy.
Sometimes described as “cellular power plants,” mitochondria generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is used by cells as a source of chemical energy. Mitochondria are also involved in other important tasks such as cell growth as well as control of the cell cycle, including cell death. Over time, changes within our cells results in the deterioration and destruction of mitochondria – opening the door to aging and disease. How does it happen? These three processes are primarily to blame:
· Increased production of free radicals that attack mitochondria
· Decreased production of antioxidants that protect mitochondria
· Accumulated oxidative damage to mitochondria that leads to decay and eventual cell death
Although these processes are likely caused by normal aging or simple wear and tear, they have a devastating effect on the body, both inside and out. But according to the mitochondrial theory of aging, it would be possible to slow, even to halt the aging process if we could somehow protect mitochondria from free radicals and/or create new mitochondria. One popular anti-aging product that claims it can do exactly that is now available for sale worldwide.
What is PQQ?
Classified as a redox cofactor that works as a powerful antioxidant within the body, pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) plays a critical role in cellular energy metabolism, development, and function. Clinical trials have not only revealed that PQQ helps protects mitochondria from oxidative stress, but also that it is responsible for mitochondrial biogenesis, which creates new mitochondria within aging cells. These findings are significant because of the possible benefits they might have for human health and longevity. At present, PQQ is the only over-the-counter medication that stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis; although the process is also promoted by aerobic exercise and strict caloric restriction. What are the benefits?
Numerous studies have shown that PQQ can reverse cognitive impairment that is the result of chronic oxidative stress. Both animal and human subjects demonstrated improved cognition and memory when given the redox cofactor as a dietary supplement. How does it work? According to researchers, PQQ stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis within aging cells in the brain. It has also been shown to protect neurons from oxidation damage, which may be caused by organic injury. In one study, patients with Parkinson’s disease responded positively to PQQ supplementation.
Testing has also revealed that PQQ may reduce the likelihood of and damaged caused by stroke. One animal model found that administration of the supplement before stroke was induced significantly reduced the size and extent of damage to the brain. Another experimental animal model found that PQQ lowered the risk of severe stroke and brain hypoxia.
There is also amble evidence that PQQ affects neurotransmission in the brain. In particular, the supplement protects neurons by regulating the NMDA receptor, thereby lowering excitotoxicity – a condition that is associated with a myriad of neurodegenerative issues, diseases, and seizures.
As the leading killer of men and women in America, heart disease is responsible for 1 in every 4 deaths.Those that survive a cardiac episode almost always sustain a permanent injury. PQQ supplementation has been found to reduce the size of damaged areas caused by myocardial infarction (heart attack) in numerous animal models. Moreover, researchers have found that this benefit occurs whether the chemical is administered before or after the cardiac event. In other words, those that suffer a heart attack may be able to reduce their risk of permanent damage by taking the supplement shortly after it occurs.
A recent study conducted at the University of California at San Francisco compared the effects of PQQ with the beta blocker metoprolol in patients who had recently suffered a heart attack. Both treatments were deemed effective at reducing the size of damaged areas and protecting the heart from permanent dysfunction. With PQQ supplementation, researchers observed increased mitochondrial energy-producing function, which may have helped protect the heart muscle during the cardiac event. At the end of the day, researchers concluded that PQQ was better than metoprolol at protecting mitochondria from oxidative damage brought on by a heart attack.
Up until this point, the benefits of PQQ supplementation have been fairly straightforward. Because it protects cells from the ravages of aging, it is especially helpful to our two hardest working organs – the brain and the heart. But how can a dietary supplement reduce the risk of a mental disorder like depression? Isn’t depression simply about feelings blue or down in the dumps? If so, how could a vitamin-like nutrient restore balance and get us out of the doldrums?
Although PQQ will not treat chemical imbalances in the brain that are often linked to mood disorders, such as low serotonin or dopamine levels, it can alleviate the most common symptoms of depression. As we mentioned earlier, mitochondria are responsible for producing the chemical energy our cells and bodies need. When they can no longer perform this function, energy levels start to fall and people complain of fatigue. In most cases, this decline is accepted as a natural part of the aging process. Unfortunately, the symptoms of this process can also cause disturbances that may increase the risk of depression. How do we know?
What do fatigue, decreased energy, restlessness, persistent aches and pains, and difficulty concentrating have in common? They are all symptoms of both aging and depression! It is no wonder elderly individuals (age 65 or older) are more than twice as likely to suffer from depression than the general population! How can PQQ help?
For the average person, energy and mood are inextricably linked. As a general rule, we are more likely to be in good spirits if we have the energy we need to work, play, and live our lives as we see fit. On the other hand, when our energy levels fall and fatigue limits our options, we are far more likely to be unhappy, despondent, even depressed. Since PQQ has been proven to enhance and improve energy at a cellular level, it is stands to reason that it may help treat some of the most common symptoms of depression. But don’t take our word for it… Listen to the scientists!
The most comprehensive study to date on the effects of PQQ on fatigue was conducted at the Ueno Clinic in Tokyo, Japan in 2009. During the course of the 8-week study, 17 office workers with diagnosed sleep disorders were given 20 mgs per day of PQQ. Because most of the previous testing on PQQ involved cognitive and cardiac issues, researchers were surprised by what they observed. At the end of the study, they concluded that PQQ supplementation appeared to improve sleep quality and duration. Subjects also reported improved mood that was the direct result of diminished feelings of fatigue. Perhaps most importantly, no health issues or serious side effects were associated with PQQ supplementation.
Although the results of a single clinical trial are far from conclusive, the vitamin-like nutrient has been shown to improve fatigue recovery, energy, sleep quality, and some cognitive functions; all of which are linked to depression. Only time will tell of PQQ becomes a safe and reliable alternative to prescription antidepressants.
A powerful and industrious coenzyme, PQQ plays an important role in energy production at a cellular level. Not only does it help protect mitochondria from free radicals, it also creates new mitochondria within aging cells. The revitalizing effects PQQ has on mitochondria may slow the aging process in some users. Numerous studies have found that the popular dietary supplement reduces the risk of cognitive decline, dementia, and memory loss that are the result of chronic oxidative stress. PQQ also promotes cardiac health by protecting the vital organ from permanent injury. Last but not least, the coenzyme may help alleviate the symptoms of depression by boosting energy and fighting fatigue.