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Can PQQ Help With Depression?
From skin care products to testosterone to hair restoration treatment, the anti-aging industry continues to post record returns as consumers search for the elusive modern equivalent of the Fountain of Youth. With an estimated net revenue 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 antiaging products are met with skepticism by consumers because their efficacy has not been proven. But stricter regulations and more exhaustive testing have given millions hope that a handful of products can live up to 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 cell 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’s briefly review the basics of cellular energy.
Sometimes described as the “cellular powerhouse”, 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 cell cycle control, including cell death. Over time, changes within our cells result in the deterioration and destruction of mitochondria – opening the door to aging and disease. How does it happen? These three processes are mainly to blame:
· Increased production of free radicals that attack mitochondria
· Decreased production of antioxidants that protect mitochondria
· Oxidative damage accumulated in mitochondria leading 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, inside and out. But according to the mitochondrial theory of aging, it would be possible to slow down or even stop the aging process if we could somehow protect mitochondria from free radicals and/or create new mitochondria. A popular anti-aging product that claims to do just 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 studies have not only found that PQQ helps protect 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 potential benefits they may have on human health and longevity. Currently, PQQ is the only over-the-counter medication that stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis; although the process is also promoted by aerobic exercise and strict calorie restriction. What are the benefits?
Numerous studies have shown that PQQ can reverse cognitive impairment that results from 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 the researchers, PQQ stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis within aging cells in the brain. It has also been shown to protect neurons from oxidative damage, which can be caused by organic damage. In one study, patients with Parkinson’s disease responded positively to PQQ supplementation.
Testing has also found that PQQ can reduce the likelihood and damage caused by stroke. An animal model found that administering the supplement before a stroke was induced significantly reduced the size and extent of brain damage. Another experimental animal model found that PQQ reduced the risk of severe stroke and brain hypoxia.
There is also ample evidence that PQQ affects neurotransmission in the brain. In particular, the supplement protects neurons by regulating the NMDA receptor, thereby reducing excitotoxicity—a condition associated with a host of neurodegenerative issues, diseases, and seizures.
As the leading killer of men and women in America, heart disease is responsible for 1 in 4 deaths. Those who survive a cardiac episode almost always suffer permanent damage. PQQ supplementation has been found to reduce the size of damaged areas caused by myocardial infarction (heart attack) in multiple animal models. Furthermore, researchers have found that this benefit occurs whether the chemical is administered before or after the cardiac event. In other words, those who suffer a heart attack may be able to reduce the risk of permanent damage by taking the supplement soon after it happens.
A recent study conducted at the University of California, San Francisco compared the effects of PQQ with the beta-blocker metoprolol in patients who had recently suffered a heart attack. Both treatments were found to be effective in reducing the size of the damaged areas and protecting the heart from permanent dysfunction. With PQQ supplementation, the researchers observed an increase in mitochondrial energy production function, which may have helped protect the heart muscle during the cardiac event. At the end of the day, the researchers concluded that PQQ was better than metoprolol in protecting mitochondria from oxidative damage caused by a heart attack.
Up to this point, the benefits of PQQ supplementation have been fairly straightforward. Because it protects cells from the damage of aging, it is especially beneficial for our two most difficult organs – the brain and the heart. But how can a dietary supplement reduce the risk of a mental disorder like depression? Isn’t depression just about feeling blue or down in the dumps? If so, how can a vitamin-like nutrient restore balance and get us out of whack?
Although PQQ will not treat chemical imbalances in the brain often associated with mood disorders, such as low levels of serotonin or dopamine, it may alleviate the most common symptoms of depression. As we mentioned earlier, mitochondria are responsible for producing the chemical energy that our cells and bodies need. When they can no longer perform this function, energy levels begin to drop 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 discomfort that can increase the risk of depression. How do we know?
What do fatigue, low energy, restlessness, constant aches and pains, and difficulty concentrating all have in common? They are all symptoms of aging and depression! It’s no wonder that older individuals (65 and older) are more than twice as likely to suffer from depression as 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 drop and fatigue limits our options, we are much more likely to be unhappy, depressed, and even depressed. Since PQQ has been shown to increase and improve energy at the cellular level, it stands to reason that it can help treat some of the more 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 8-week study, 17 office workers with diagnosed sleep disorders were given 20 mg per day. PQQ. Because most previous testing on PQQ involved cognitive and cardiac issues, the 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 a direct result of reduced 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 these are associated with depression. Only time will tell if PQQ becomes a safe and reliable alternative to prescription antidepressants.
A powerful and hardworking coenzyme, PQQ plays an important role in energy production at the cellular level. Not only does it help protect mitochondria from free radicals, but it also creates new mitochondria within aging cells. The revitalizing effects that PQQ has on the mitochondria may slow the aging process in some users. Numerous studies have found that the popular nutritional supplement reduces the risk of cognitive decline, dementia and memory loss that result from chronic oxidative stress. PQQ also promotes cardiac health by protecting the vital organ from permanent damage. Last but not least, coenzyme can help alleviate symptoms of depression by increasing energy and fighting fatigue.
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