Quercetin for Health
Decades of dedicated research studies show quercetin could make a difference in your health. It appears that this colorful pigment found in fruits and veggies has a positive effect on the inflammatory response by its influence as an antioxidant, antiviral and on gut health, too.

Let’s be honest. Not all inflammation is “bad”. During an injury, inflammation is a necessary result of your body’s efforts to foster healing and fight infection However, prolonged inflammation is a threat to every cell everywhere in your body. When inflammation lingers, often so does the pain, long after the injury heals.

What causes inflammation besides bodily injury? Scientist have determined that free radicals are one known mediator. Bad news is free radicals are unavoidable. In fact, day to day body functions – like breathing and digesting food – create free radicals via normal biochemical pathways.  There are, however, steps you can take to minimize the damage that free radicals cause. Good news is that quercetin is one of those steps.

What are free radicals anyway you ask? The technical definition is that they are molecules in the body without a paired electron. Basically, that means they are biologically unstable and will do anything to get that electron back, including stealing it from another cells -- which could make that cell unstable and so on and so on. Antioxidants like vitamins C and E, and alpha lipoic acid give up an electron to stabilize these reactive molecules and restore normal cell function. 

That’s why maintaining an antioxidant arsenal is so important. 

If antioxidants are not available, free radicals can continue to provoke inflammation, and subsequently damage cell DNA, lipids and proteins. Simple examples of why that is bad: damage to DNA affects the cell’s ability to replicate, causing poor repair and promote aging. Damage to lipids in the cell membrane leave the cell vulnerable to attack. Disruption of the protein chains create a host of issues, including the ability of enzymes to perform necessary chemical reactions in the body. 

This cumulative oxidative stress may result in irreversible damage to the cells and an increased risk of disease, including cancer, and premature aging.  That’s why scientists believe that inflammation is involved in almost all disease processes Thus, curbing free radicals is an important key as a preventative measure and for recovery and healing.  As an antioxidant, quercetin can help.

“According to government food studies, most Americans only average a meager 4 mg a dayof quercetin due to their low fruit and veggie intake.”

Quercetin is already quite famous for interfering with the inflammatory cascade that causes you to itch, sneeze, break out in hives and be quite miserable if you have allergies. But don’t limit its actions. This feisty bioflavonoid can do so much more for your health! 

In one 8-week study of 50 women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), those who took 500 mg of quercetin along with their antiarthritic treatments significant reduced after-activity pain, plus morning pain and stiffness RA is one of the most inflammatory types of arthritis. Quercetin helps preserve both joint structure and lining by reducing the inflammation that causes classic RA joint destruction.

A meta-analysis (review) of 149 studies of several plant-derived compounds, which included quercetin, showed these bioflavonoids are antioxidants that can “prevent oxidative stress, inhibit inflammation and modulate immunity”. Performance was rated based on how well the compounds reduced oxidative and inflammatory markers, reduced symptoms and improved overall well-being.

COVID-19 caused over a million deaths, many of which were blamed on the inability of medical science to control associated inflammation and its devastating effects. Given the nature of quercetin to quench inflammation, a paper published in the Journal of Inflammation suggests that quercetin could be used as a treatment in severe inflammatory cases, such as COVID-19.  

There’s more good news on quercetin that supports its anti-inflammatory activity.  Quercetin appears to correct dysbiosis of the gut, an organ that plays a crucial role in immunity and the inflammatory response throughout the body. Dysbiosis of the gut is also linked to the development of disease and certain cancers.  Quercetin also acts as a mild analgesic which may be how it helps reduce arthritis symptoms and inflammatory related pain.  

You may be wondering what else quercetin can do.  As quercetin’s influence on inflammation and aging comes to light in the scientific community, research increases. Other areas of research include heart disease (for cholesterol and blood pressure), type 2 diabetes, inflammatory lung disease, neurodegeneration and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease to name a few. But we’ll leave those topics for another blog! 

So how do you get enough quercetin in your daily diet? Quercetin can be found in onions, apples and berries, leafy greens and even coffee beans in varying amounts. Onions have one of the highest quercetin contents, yet you would have to eat a whole red onion to get 39 mg. (who could do that?)  A cup of blueberries gives you another 7-14 mg and one apple offer a mere 5 mg. According to government food studies, most Americans only average a meager 4 mg a day of quercetin a day due to their low fruit and veggie intake. 

Taking quercetin as a supplement makes sense as you can easily get the minimum suggested daily dose of 500 mg in 1-2 capsules. Like vitamin C, quercetin is water soluble and can be taken more than once a day. It’s easy to absorb and has an unblemished safety record so it is a great addition to your antioxidant team!  

Resources: 1) Maurya et al, Molecules 4/22; 2) Saeedi-Boroujeni and Mahmoudian-Sani, Journal of Inflammation 1/21; 3) Quercetin Fact Sheet, NIH National Library of Medicine; 4) Tang et al, Drug Des Devel Ther. 4/22.

©TyH Publications (M. Squires). For informational purposes only. Please consult with your healthcare professional for any supplement you are taking or planning to take.