Meet CoQ10’s BFF
You’ve probably heard about the wonders of CoQ10 for powering up cells so that eggs and sperm have all the energy they need. But there’s also a trusty sidekick you’ll want in your corner (or, your supplement, that is): PQQ. It’s a multitasker that supports cells in tons of ways but one of its standout skills is being able to regenerate and repair cells. Read on for a deeper dive into this hardworking nutrient.
What is PQQ?
PQQ (or, pyroquinoline quinone, but since that’s a mouthful, it's mostly referred to by the abbreviation) is a vitamin-like cofactor. That means that your body uses it to make something else (check out our supplement glossary for more definitions); in this case, it’s used to make compounds that provide energy to your cells. PQQ is a growth factor, which means it helps stimulate cellular growth and tissue repair. It also can help regulate gene expression (this helps our cells function better) and it has antioxidant effects. Plus, there’s one more superpower: PQQ can generate new mitochondria in aging cells (a quick refresher: mitochondria are responsible for providing energy that cells like eggs, sperm and embryos need to grow properly).
What are the fertility benefits of PQQ for men and people with sperm?
PQQ’s major benefit for sperm lies in its effects on mitochondria, which are concentrated in what’s called the midpiece (the middle). They create energy that’s needed for the tail to move, A.K.A motility.
But because sperm are incredibly small, they’re very sensitive to their environment. Oxidative stress (damage caused by free radicals from toxins and more) can impair the growth and development of sperm, causing poor motility and morphology, and increased DNA fragmentation. PQQ, which is often combined with CoQ10 in studies, lowers oxidative stress in sperm which protects the mitochondrial DNA and improves sperm motility. In general, sperm parameters are expected to improve after taking antioxidants such as PQQ and CoQ10 for three months.
What are the fertility benefits of PQQ for women and people with eggs?
Human eggs boast the highest number of mitochondria (think of these as energy centers) compared to any other cell. Unfortunately, as eggs age, the number of mitochondria decreases, leaving less fuel for the cell to complete its growth and keep DNA intact. At the same time, there’s an increase in oxidative stress, which further hinders mitochondrial function and thus contributes to poor egg quality.
That’s where PQQ’s mitochondria magic comes in: PQQ can repair and regenerate new mitochondria. You’ll often see it paired with CoQ10, which fuels mitochondria. This combo has been studied in animal models and shown to improve both mitochondrial activity and the way chromosomes are arranged in aging eggs.
Is PQQ important during pregnancy and breastfeeding?
There’s limited data on the use of PQQ in pregnancy and breastfeeding, however, a 2019 study on pregnant and lactating pigs found that PQQ supplementation increased the number of embryos implanted as well as the number of piglets born per litter. In a separate study on obese mice, PQQ used during pregnancy and lactation protected the offspring from hepatotoxicity (liver damage) and inflammation. It also seemed to have long-term protective effects against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which is caused by obesity and Western-style diets.
Back to humans: We know that PQQ is necessary for a newborn’s growth and development, and the good news is that PQQ is naturally high in breast milk. For those who aren’t breastfeeding, there’s no data to suggest the need for supplementation; there’s PQQ naturally in cow’s milk and soy, which are both used to make formula.
How much PQQ do you need per day?
PQQ is a must-have for humans, but we can’t synthesize it ourselves so we need to get it from food and supplements. You can get PQQ from soybeans (especially fermented ones), spinach, green tea, parsley and kiwi, or of course, from a supplement if you’re looking for a larger amount. There isn’t a defined recommended daily allowance (RDA—basically, how much you need to get by and stay healthy) for PQQ, but it’s presumed to be small compared to the 20 to 60 mg typically taken as a supplement. So why take more? A 2013 study found that larger amounts of PQQ seem to provide higher antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
PQQ vs CoQ10
You’ll often see PQQ and CoQ10 lumped together in both supplements and studies. For max benefits, you’ll want to take both. PQQ repairs and regenerates the mitochondria, while CoQ10 refuels them. Together, these two powerhouses keep your cells fuelled up and functioning well so that sperm, eggs and embryos all have the energy they need to thrive.
If you’re trying to conceive, you can find 20 mg of PQQ and 200 mg of CoQ10 in both The Power Prenatal for eggs and The Power Prenatal for sperm—both formulated to give eggs and sperm all the support they need to hit peak quality.