Japanese Find 1st New Vitamin in 55 Years; Experiments Show It Could Affect Fertility

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 28, 2003 | Go to article overview

Japanese Find 1st New Vitamin in 55 Years; Experiments Show It Could Affect Fertility


Byline: Jennifer Harper, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Japanese researchers say they've discovered the first genuinely "new" vitamin in 55 years and it may prove to be a fertility enhancer. This could cause considerable hubbub in the billion-dollar vitamin supplement industry.

Pyrroloquinoline quinone, or PQQ, is a member of the B-vitamin group, the researchers explain. But in a statement released Friday, the Tokyo-based Institute of Physical and Chemical Research announced it had studied one particular effect of PQQ on mice.

Those deprived of it had markedly lowered fertility and "roughened fur," according to project director Takafumi Kato. PQQ played "an important role" in fertility, he said, adding that humans usually react much like rodents to such substances.

More research was on the way to expand upon their theory, he said, noting that PQQ is the "first new vitamin to be discovered since 1948." It comes from fermented soybeans, parsley, green tea, green peppers, kiwi fruit and papaya.

New scientific research generates keen interest among manufacturers hoping to woo a supplement-happy society with deep pockets.

About 40 percent of Americans take vitamins, spending close to $2 billion a year, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, conducted by the University of Wisconsin two years ago.

The conversion of research from lab to store shelf does not take long.

Proctor & Gamble, for example, announced Thursday, that it would begin manufacturing "Oil of Olay" brand vitamins after researchers at the University of Miami confirmed that Vitamin K could help troubled skin.

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