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Should you take quercetin for immune health? What you need to know



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Quercetin is a flavonoid that can support immune health.

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Pandemic or not – supplements can be confusing. And when it comes to immune health, it seems like there is a new supplement on the market every day. But taking targeted supplements that are scientifically supported can be a smart step to stay healthy now.

Not only does the pandemic show no signs of slowing down, but also flu season approaching, which means it’s getting harder to stay well with more than one widespread infectious disease out there.

One supplement that you may have heard of recently is quercetin – a flavonoid that acts as a powerful antioxidant and has reported benefits for immune health, reduces inflammation, protects against cancer and more. To find out if it’s worth adding to your supplement, continue reading for more on the science behind quercetin and insights from dietitian Amy Shapiro.

What is quercetin?

Quercetin is a flavonoid found naturally in many plants and foods such as apples, grapes and broccoli. “It donates electrons to free radicals, prevents inflammation and histamine development in the body, says Shapiro.

Quercetin is popular as a supplement, often combined with other nutrients such as bromelain or vitamin C because it is not easily absorbed and used in the body on its own. “When paired with vitamin C, it’s more potent [in the body] and vitamin C helps regenerate quercetin in the body, says Shapiro.

Health benefits

Research shows that quercetin has many health benefits. “It is anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidants (and therefore fights diseases and signs of aging), reduces allergy symptoms, reduces the risk of cancer, reduces the risk of infection including respiratory, skin and stomach infections and can reduce the risk of heart disease and high blood pressure,” he said. Shapiro.

Other reported benefits include

  • Antiallergy: Research shows that quercetin can block histamine, making it a natural allergy reliever or preventative alternative to medications.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Animal research shows that quercetin has anti-inflammatory properties. In human studies, it reduced inflammation in men but did not seem to help reduce inflammation in women with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Anti cancer: Test-tube studies have shown that quercetin can slow the growth of several different types of cancer.
  • Antibacterial and antiviral: Quercetin has antibacterial and antiviral properties, making it ideal for avoiding infections and preventing disease.

Quercetin and COVID-19

Quercetin is receiving attention in the wake of COVID-19, as researchers are studying it as a potential way to prevent and treat the virus. A review article published in Frontiers of Immunology examined how taking quercetin and vitamin C – specifically together – can prevent coronavirus infection and treat COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The study said that giving the two together could be a “safe, effective and inexpensive” method of treating and preventing COVID-19, especially among high-risk populations. A clinical trial with 50 participants is currently underway to study the effects of quercetin to further prevent and treat COVID-19.

The article on the limits of immunology referred to a recommendation of 250 to 500 mg of quercetin daily along with 500 mg of vitamin C to prevent infection with the virus.

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Red onions are a natural source of quercetin.

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How to get enough quercetin

Quercetin is found naturally in many foods you may already be eating. By adding the foods listed below to your diet, you can increase your quercetin intake.

The amounts are milligrams per 100 grams serving:

  • Red onions: 32 mg
  • Apples: 4 mg
  • Red grapes: 3.5 mg
  • Blueberries: 3 mg
  • Caprice: 180 mg
  • Kale: 7 mg
  • Petals: 170 mg
  • Buckwheat: 23 mg
  • Black tea: 2 mg

According to Shapiro, if you are determined to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables on this list, you will probably consume about 100 to 300 mg of quercetin daily. So if you are aiming for 500 mg per day, it will be more difficult with food alone – you will probably also need a supplement.

“Most people do not eat enough plants during the day, so a supplement would make sense. Dietary supplements usually pair Quercetin with vitamin C or Bromelain which helps improve absorption and strength. Most people can take 500 mg to get started and work their way up. up to 1000 mg from a supplement daily to get the health-protective effects, says Shapiro.

The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified healthcare provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goal.


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