The plant kingdom is full of powerful botanical allies that can help us achieve our highest expression of health. Of all the botanical compounds under investigation, quercetin stands apart due to its broad array of health-supporting activities. Read on to learn about this exciting botanical compound and how it can support your health and wellbeing.
What is Quercetin, and Where is it Found in Nature?
Quercetin is a polyphenol found in various fruits and vegetables, including onions, apples, capers, blueberries, and green tea. It may be responsible for many of the health benefits we associate with higher intakes of fruits and vegetables, including improved metabolic and heart health.
How Quercetin Can Support Your Health
Quercetin is a true multi-purpose phytochemical that exerts beneficial health effects on various body systems, ranging from immune cells to the gut. Let’s discuss exactly how quercetin can support your health and wellbeing.
Balance Immune Function
Histamine is a pro-inflammatory molecule that triggers vasodilation, prompting effects such as flushing, swelling, and redness. Quercetin is known for its powerful balancing effects on mast cells, critical immune cells that release histamine in response to environmental irritations, such as seasonal allergens. (1)
Quercetin also supports the transport of zinc, a mineral crucial for immune function, into cells. (2) Research indicates that optimized cellular levels of zinc may support a robust immune response to foreign invaders; quercetin may thus be a useful tool for supporting our internal immune defenses. (3)
Support Metabolic Health
The AMP-activated protein kinase pathway, AMPK for short, is an evolutionarily-conserved pathway present in all complex life forms, from mice to humans. AMPK is a central regulator of metabolism, growth, and energy and helps coordinate metabolism in the liver, muscles, and fat. (4) AMPK is an exquisite nutrient sensor and is activated whenever intracellular energy (in the form of ATP) is low. AMPK activation restores cellular energy levels by stimulating pathways and processes that generate ATP. AMPK activation supports a healthy inflammatory response and blood sugar, whereas AMPK inhibition can lead to metabolic dysfunction.
Unfortunately, many factors in our modern-day lives inhibit AMPK activity, contributing to poor metabolic health. Research indicates that quercetin may be a powerful tool for supporting our metabolic health in the face of modern-day inputs through its AMPK-activating effects. In fact, by activating AMPK, quercetin has been found to support blood sugar balance and metabolic wellbeing. (5)
Employ Your Cellular “Housekeeping” System
Autophagy is the process by which your cells engulf and clear out debris, damaged proteins, and dysfunctional organelles and then recycle or dispose of them. Adequate autophagy is essential for promoting whole-body health and longevity. In addition to supporting metabolic health through AMPK activation, quercetin also regulates autophagy by initiating this potent cellular signaling pathway. (6)
Manage Senescent Cells
As we age, our cells are exposed to various damaging factors, including free radical byproducts from environmental toxins as well as from of our body’s own metabolic activity. When cells are exposed to these factors, some of them choose to stop dividing, becoming “senescent.” Senescent cells are not innocent bystanders minding their own business. They actually secrete an array of inflammatory compounds, in turn damaging the cells around them. Senescent cells are implicated in many of the adverse changes associated with aging, including chronic unproductive inflammatory responses and declines in organ function. Senolytics, compounds that destroy senescent cells, may help our bodies age with grace and vitality.
Research indicates that quercetin has senolytic properties, helping to manage the body’s senescent cell burden. (7) It regulates the number of senescent cells in the body, supporting a balanced inflammatory response and, in preclinical research, improving our healthspan, or the number of years lived in good health. (8)
Maintain a Healthy Gut
Emerging research indicates that quercetin has beneficial effects on the gut. It supports a healthy intestinal barrier, which is the crucial interface between the inside of your gut, known as the “lumen,” and your systemic blood circulation. Impaired intestinal permeability, aka “leaky gut,” is associated with various adverse health effects, including metabolic impairments. By supporting intestinal barrier integrity, quercetin may help maintain whole-body homeostasis. (9)
Quercetin serves as a “food” for good gut bugs and may also help maintain a healthy gut ecosystem. (10) A healthy gut ecosystem is associated with improved body composition, blood sugar balance, and healthy immune function.
Support a Youthful Physiology
Exciting research has shown that quercetin helps the body manage senescent cells, or cells that have ceased to be functional and instead secrete molecules that harm healthy cells around them. (11) Research indicates that targeting senescent cells may stem the tide of aging and promote a youthful physiology and that quercetin may be a useful tool for achieving this goal.
Help Your Mitochondria
Mitochondria are the microscopic energy “powerhouses” of your cells, where cellular energy in the form of ATP is generated. Impaired mitochondrial activity lowers the amount of energy available to your cells, causing downstream adverse effects on countless physiological processes.
Quercetin is a potent mitochondrial nutrient, supporting the growth of new, healthy mitochondria and tempering free radical imbalances produced as a byproduct of ATP production. (12)
Research indicates that quercetin is poorly absorbed in the gut, leading to a low bioavailability in the body. Quercetin bioavailability is also subject to interindividual variability, hinging on factors such as genetics and the balance of bugs in one’s gut microbiota. (13)
Liposomal delivery systems significantly enhance quercetin bioavailability. (14) Our formulas that contain quercetin deliver this potent phytochemical in our signature liposomal delivery system for rapid absorption and unparalleled bioavailability.
Quercetin offers many health benefits, ranging from supporting balanced blood sugar to positively changing the way your body ages. If you are interested in optimizing your health and wellbeing, this is one natural ingredient you won’t want to miss out on!
- Li Y, et al. Quercetin, inflammation and immunity. Nutrients. 2016; 8(3): 167.
- Dabbagh-Bazarbachi H, et al. Zinc ionophore activity of quercetin and epigallocatechin-gallate: from Hepa 1-6 cells to a liposome model. J Agric Food Chem. 2014; 62(32): 8085-8093.
- Wessels I, et al. The potential impact of zinc supplementation on COVID-19 pathogenesis. Front Immunol. 2020; [online].
- Herzig S and Shaw RJ. AMPK: guardian of metabolism and mitochondrial homeostasis. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2018; 19(2): 121-135.
- Kim J, et al. AMPK activators: mechanisms of action and physiological activities. Exp Mol Med. 2016; 48(4): e224.
- Liu Y, et al. Quercetin induces protective autophagy and apoptosis through ER stress via the p-STAT3/Bcl-2 axis in ovarian cancer. Apoptosis. 2017; 22: 544-557.
- Lewinka A, et al. AMPK-mediated senolytic and senostatic activity of quercetin surface functionalized Fe3O4 nanoparticles during oxidant-induced senescence in human fibroblasts. Redox Biol. 2020; 28: 101337.
- Geng L, et al. Low-dose quercetin positively regulates mouse healthspan. Protein & Cell. 2019; 10: 770-775.
- De Santis S, et al. Nutritional keys for intestinal barrier modulation. Front Immunol. 2015; 6: 612.
- Carrera-Quintanar L, et al. Phytochemicals that influence gut microbiota as prophylactics and for the treatment of obesity and inflammatory diseases. Mediators Inflamm. 2018; Article ID 9734845.
- Lewinska A, et al. AMPK-mediated senolytic and senostatic activity of quercetin surface-functionalized Fe 3 O 4 nanoparticles during oxidant-induced senescence in human fibroblasts. Redox Biol. 2020; 28: 101337.
- Rayamajhi N, et al. Quercetin induces mitochondrial biogenesis through activation of HO-1 in HepG2 Cells. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2013; Article ID 154279.
- Almeida AF, et al. Bioavailability of quercetin in humans with a focus on interindividual variation. Comp Rev Food Sci Food Saf. 2018; 17(3): 714-731.
- Cai X, et al. Bioavailability of quercetin: Problems and promises. Curr Med Chem. 2013; 20(20): [online].