Interest in brain health has been on the rise in recent years as both the prevalence and awareness of neurocognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease have increased. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 10 percent of Americans age 65 or older (5.6 million people) have Alzheimer’s Disease. Equally if not more alarming, that percentage increases significantly with age. It is estimated that nearly a third (32 percent) of individuals 85 or older is living with Alzheimer’s.
As such figures indicate, most of us are sadly familiar with neurocognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s Disease. Chances are high that someone in your family is afflicted, or a close friend’s family. And like most health-oriented consumers, there’s a good chance that you’re interested in improving brain health.
For the average adult, brain development peaks at age 25, and after age 40 brain volume begins to decrease at a rate of five percent per decade. Neurons and their connecting pathways start shrinking, and after age 70 the rate of decline increases even further. It’s no wonder that older consumers are interested in maintaining brain health to stave off declining cognitive function. Last year AARP conducted an on-line survey of nearly 2,300 participants and found that more than one-third of adults age 74 or older was taking a supplement for brain health. But it is not just older consumers who are concerned about brain health. Millennials, too, are gravitating to products that help promote greater mental focus and acuity and reverse the effects of aging.
Nutritional supplement sales reflect a growing appetite for products aimed at improving cognitive function. It’s estimated that the global brain health supplements market will reach $11.6 billion by 2024, a nearly five-fold increase compared to the $2.3 billion in sales from 2015. Consumers face an array of supplements that promote brain health, but it’s important to consider efficacy and safety, as demonstrated by research and clinical studies.
Mind Your P’s and Q’s
An extensive list of clinical studies highlights a link between brain health and other benefits with a naturally occurring antioxidant ingredient called pyrroloquinoline quinone, or PQQ. The ingredient is found in trace amounts in vegetables, fruits, meat, and in human breast milk, and it has been commercialized as a nutraceutical. Research suggests that the PQQ compound may play a role in preserving and improving cognitive function, in both humans and animals and delay aging. Some early findings show that it may also support heart health, reduce stress and improve sleep.
A natural source of PQQ was developed by Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Co., Inc. in Japan under the brand name BioPQQ® in the United States, Canada and Japan. While other forms of PQQ are available on the market, the vast majority of scientific research has been developed on BioPQQ specifically.
BioPQQ has significantly higher antioxidant properties than Vitamin C and E, and as an antioxidant ingredient it has been shown to remove active oxygen radicals that are often linked to “oxidative stress” which can contribute to neurodegenerative diseases that include Alzheimer’s and other dementias. In this way, PQQ may protect neurons in the brain that are susceptible to cell damage.
Increasingly, research indicates that BioPQQ may promote the development and health of mitochondria, in addition to providing antioxidant protection to brain cells. Mitochondria have been called the powerhouse of cells, responsible for regulating cognitive function, memory, energy and mood. Mitochondria are also responsible for producing chemicals for other purposes, for example breaking down and recycling waste products in the body.
A healthy body continually creates mitochondria in a process known as mitochondrial biogenesis. As we get older our mitochondrial function declines, much like overall energy levels, which leads to impaired functioning of the brain and other vital organs. Damage to mitochondria can lead to a host of health issues, including sarcopenia, infections, diabetes, dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases. While it is well known that exercise is an important way to increase mitochondria, some people may not be able to perform strenuous activities due to their age or health conditions. To supplant exercise, consumers can add BioPQQ to their diet to maintain healthy mitochondria.
BioPQQ appears to increase and enhance mitochondrial biogenesis, which results in the growth of mitochondria clusters in cells. Literally, this is like infusing cells with energy. In fact, when tested against Resveratrol and NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) – two of the more well-known mitochondria-boosting supplement ingredients – BioPQQ outperformed them by 500 to 1,000 times.
BioPQQ has also been shown to promote the production of a protein called Nerve Growth Factor, which is composed of 118 amino acid residues. NGF helps develop and maintain peripheral sympathetic and sensory neurons that are susceptible to damage from oxidative stress. Neuronal death is considered a causal factor in some cognitive disorders. BioPQQ may stimulate NGF synthesis and secretion, and in addition to its antioxidant characteristics, the ingredient may inhibit neurotoxicity and play a role in the growth and recovery of damaged nerves and organs like the brain.
Some of the studies indicating improvements in brain health and mood, both in animals and humans, are promising:
- Improved Learning: In a comparative study, old rats were given either vitamin E or BioPQQ for two weeks and then measured by performance on the Morris water maze test. The results showed higher learning rates and improved memory retention in rats treated with either Vitamin E or BioPQQ, when compared with untreated controls.
- Better Focus: A study on 41 healthy elderly subjects (14 men, 27 women) found cognitive functioning improvements in areas of selective attention and working ability after 12 weeks of taking 20mg of BioPQQ.
- Improving Memory: A six-month study of 67 middle-aged to elderly Japanese subjects identified as forgetful indicated significant improvements in short-term memory after taking 20mg of BioPQQ in combination with Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a naturally-occurring antioxidant.
- Reducing depression and anxiety: In a study of 17 adult subjects, taking 20mg of BioPQQ over an eight-week period reduced confusion, anxiety and depression, and improved sleep quality.
Increasing energy for sport performance
As a “mitochondria booster,” BioPQQ has been explored for its use in athletic competition. Some of the same studies that demonstrate possible improvements in brain function also highlight how BioPQQ can increase vigor, reduce fatigue and help improve sleep—all attributes that make the product attractive for an athlete.
Athletes are keen to use supplements and other products that boost performance, however they are understandably leery of using products that are ineffective or possibly unsafe. Since many of these products fall in the subcategory of food, manufacturers are not required to furnish evidence of safety and efficacy, or obtain approval from regulatory bodies when marketing these supplements to consumers.
There is also a concern that a product might contain an ingredient banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). If a urine screening indicates use of such a product, it could result in an athlete’s disqualification, sanction or suspension from sport.
While there are numerous untested sports products on the marketplace, BioPQQ is an exception. Extensive testing has demonstrated its safety, and today BioPQQ is the only ingredient in its class that has been certified by the Informed-Sport and Informed-Choice quality assurance programs, ensuring that every batch has been tested for substances banned by the WADA. These programs also use sensitive testing protocols to ensure products certified by it are manufactured to high-quality standards. This seal of approval makes BioPQQ an attractive and safe option for athletes looking to boost their physical performance and improve their endurance.
Patented Manufacturing Process Tested for Safety
Consumers need reassurance when they purchase a product—especially one for brain health—that it is safe and effective. Numerous products are available that tout their effectiveness for improving cognitive function and safe to use, but it is only through documented studies and clinical trial data that consumers can be assured that the claims they put on a label are true.
In more than 1,000 in vitro, animal and human clinical studies over the past 40 years, Mitsubishi Gas Chemical has been rigorously testing BioPQQ to prove its safety and efficacy. The company manufactures BioPQQ by harvesting natural PQQ disodium salt from a proprietary bacterial fermentation process. The product is then purified in a process that has been well-studied and validated for quality and safety to ensure that each batch is tested up to food-grade standards.
Another form of PQQ on the market is derived through a synthetic process. As such, consumers cannot be guaranteed that the reagents and solvents used in such processes are food-safe additives, or that they are free of potentially hazardous chemicals.
Another point of distinction for BioPQQ is the fact that it is the only PQQ on the market that has received a New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) notification from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. NDI notification is important because it can be a difficult and time-consuming process to obtain, and it reflects high-quality control and safety standards in production. Several other PQQ makers have been unsuccessful in obtaining NDI notification, which may lead some consumers to question safety and effectiveness.
Internationally, BioPQQ has also been tested for safety. In Japan BioPQQ is certified by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare as a food ingredient. In Europe, where BioPQQ is marketed under the brand name MGCPQQ®, a safety evaluation was conducted on the ingredient by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). After completing and publishing its evaluation, MCGPQQ became the only ingredient of its kind to appear on the European Union’s approved list of Novel Foods.
From well-controlled studies that indicate potential benefits of BioPQQ, to safety evaluations by third-party regulators, consumers interested in maintaining and improving brain health while decreasing the acceleration of aging have a tempting and safe option in choosing BioPQQ. As research continues on the ingredient’s potential for boosting cognitive function and increasing healthy mitochondria, the many existing studies indicate strong links to benefits, and furthermore demonstrate that the product is very safe and well-tolerated.
For more information about BioPQQ or to learn where the ingredient is sold, visit www.biopqq.com.
 Source: 2019 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures, Alzheimer’s Association, 2019. https://www.alz.org/media/documents/alzheimers-facts-and-figures-2019-r.pdf
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 Source: “2019 AARP Brain Health and Dietary Supplements Survey,” AARP, June 2019. https://www.aarp.org/content/dam/aarp/research/surveys_statistics/health/2019/brain-health-and-dietary-supplements-report.doi.10.26419-2Fres.00318.001.pdf.
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