Naturally occurring PQQ helps to improve energy levels, metabolism and brain health in an increasingly active population, reports Dr Shoji Matsukawa, Vice President, Mitsubishi Gas Chemical America
More than ever, consumers are focused on self-care, preventive medication and fitness. During the pandemic, some maintained active lifestyles from home, which shone a spotlight on sports nutrition. In fact, according to a report by Grand Review Research, the global sports nutrition market size was valued at $10.7 billion in 2020 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10.9% from 2021 to 2028.
The same report stated that more people are also participating in at-home workouts owing to the growing number of consumers with lifestyle diseases such as diabetes and obesity, which is driving the consumption of sports nutrition products.
With a shift in consumer attitude from sports-centric motives to prioritising health, it’s essential that nutraceutical manufacturers provide supplements that not only support a more active lifestyle, but also benefit overall health. Mitochondria-boosting ingredients, for example, can be extremely beneficial to consumers in a number of ways.
Mitochondria are crucial to energy production — a key feature for athletes who seek out supplements that can help them to train for an athletic competition. Further, the powerhouse of the cell is responsible for activating metabolism, regulating cognitive function and boosting mood.
A healthy body continually creates mitochondria on its own in a process known as mitochondrial biogenesis; however, as the body ages, 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 number of debilitating health issues, including sarcopenia, infections, diabetes, dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.
Environmental activity such as exercise, caloric restriction, temperature, oxidative stress, cell division and renewal and differentiation have shown they can positively influence mitochondrial biogenesis.1 In fact, aerobic exercise, specifically high-intensity interval training such as biking and walking, has been shown to cause cells to produce more proteins for their energy producing mitochondria and their protein-building ribosomes.2
Exercise and active lifestyles are an important way to increase mitochondria, but it is not the only means of maintaining it in the long-term time. This is especially true for those who cannot sustain the same levels of healthy mitochondria as the body naturally ages through exercise alone.
Studies have shown that taking naturally occurring pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) can lead to increased vigour and less fatigue, which makes it a smart choice for those seeking sports nutrition supplements.
A naturally occurring antioxidant ingredient found in trace amounts in vegetables, fruits, meat and in human breast milk, PQQ has been shown to play a role in preserving and improving cognitive function in both humans and animals and help to delay the ageing process. Some studies also indicate that it may support heart health, help to reduce stress and improve restful sleep.
However, not all PQQ supplement ingredients are created equal. For one, MGCPQQ, a natural source of PQQ developed by Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Co. using a proprietary fermentation technology, is the only PQQ brand that’s lawfully available in Europe for food consumption.
Decades of clinical research has demonstrated that MGCPQQ can help to increase the quality and levels of mitochondria while removing dysfunctional ones through mitochondrial biogenesis. By re-energising mitochondria, the organelle can fuel cellular activity in the body, which is crucial for healthy ageing and minimising neurodegenerative diseases.
Healthy mitochondria are also critical for enhancing cognitive function and memory, boosting energy as well as stimulating other important functions that offer active consumers greater benefits beyond stamina. One study showed that MGCPQQ increases the NAD+ level in the cell, a key factor for mitochondrial biogenesis.
Although other ingredients such as resveratrol and NMN (nicotinamide mononucleotide) are known to enhance mitochondria, MGCPQQ has shown to be 10 to 1000 times more effective.3
MGCPQQ can also boost nerve growth factor (NGF), which is important for neuron development and health. Studies reveal that MGCPQQ may stimulate NGF synthesis and secretion, which could play a role in the growth and recovery of damaged nerves and organs.4
As people age, memory begins to fade as a result of neurons in the brain shrinking.5 NGF can help these neurons and positively impact brain functions and memory recall. Studies suggest that taking MGCPQQ for 24 weeks may help to increase memory recall, reverse the decline in cognitive function and improve other higher brain functions such as spatial awareness.
When training for a competition or race, any substance that an athlete puts into their body can impact their performance as well as the outcome. There are many unsafe, poorly tested, unproven and illegal sports products currently available on the market.
Supplements containing ingredients that are banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) may not only be dangerous to one’s health but can result in a positive drug test and lead to an athlete’s disqualification, sanction or suspension. And, although athletes are keen to use supplements that can give them an edge over their competition, they are understandably wary of using products that are ineffective or possibly unsafe.
As 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.
Consequently, it is critical for athletes to know what ingredients are found in the supplements they ingest and whether or not they are natural and safe to use. By contrast, MGCPQQ is registered on the European Union’s list of Novel Food Ingredients, an affirmation for consumers that the ingredient is safe and effective. MGCPQQ is also the only ingredient of its kind to have this important designation.
As a mitochondria-boosting ingredient, MGCPQQ has been explored for its use in athletic competition.
Some of the same studies that demonstrate possible improvements in brain function also highlight how MGCPQQ can increase vigour, reduce fatigue and help improve sleep —factors that can play a significant role in competitive training and regular exercise.
Although there are numerous untested sports products on the marketplace, MGCPQQ is an exception; proven to be safe and effective through extensive testing, athletes can use it with a clear conscience. MGCPQQ is the only ingredient in its class that has been certified by Informed Ingredients (formerly called the Informed-Sport and Informed-Choice quality assurance programmes), ensuring that every batch has been tested for substances that have been banned by the WADA.
These programmes also use sensitive testing protocols to ensure that certified products are manufactured to the highest quality standards. With this backing, MGCPQQ has become an attractive and safe option for athletes looking to boost their physical performance and improve their endurance.
In a crowded marketplace, it essential that nutraceutical manufacturers create supplements that not only meet consumer demand, but also exceed expectations. With sports nutrition in particular, it is crucial that manufacturers provide a product that can help their customers to reach peak performance and improve overall health.
As consumers continue to adopt more active lifestyles, mitochondria-boosting ingredients such as MGCPQQ can help sports supplement brands to differentiate themselves from the competition and meet unprecedented demand.