Quercetin: An Endurance Formula?

Quercetin is a phytochemical, a naturally occurring plant compound that protects plants from insect damage, disease and infection.  Phytochemicals also give plants color, odor and taste.  When we consume phytochemicals we gain many of the same plant benefits.  Quercetin belongs to a subclass of phytochemicals called flavonoids.  Plants containing the highest concentrations of quercetin include: capers, onions, cocoa powder, apples, cranberries, lingonberries, cherries, red grapes, broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, and green or black tea.  While commercial supplements of quercetin are advertised to help treat everything from gout to allergies, controlled scientific studies are limited.  Furthermore, supplements of this type are unregulated by the FDA and safety is a concern in individuals with bleeding disorders or who are on anticoagulant medications.

Recently, quercetin been studied as a potential ergogenic aid for sports performance.  While mice showed improved exercise tolerance, as measured by level of endurance and wheel-running, human studies have been unable to reproduce these benefits in well-trained athletes.  It has been shown to mildly improve performance in untrained individuals.  Scientists suggest that well-trained athletes have already gained maximum fuel utilization, cycling or running efficiency, and fuel utilization.   Bottom line:  the  psychological and physiological advantages gained from a committed training program and a healthy diet rich in a variety of fruits and vegetables, far exceed the potential benefits gained from taking this over the counter supplement. 

A flavonoid rich diet has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and is currently being studied for it’s potential to reduce blood pressure.  Cover one-half your plate with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to reap their rewards naturally!

For another look on this topic see Leslie Bonci’s “Ask the Dietitian” post from Runner’s World.

Categories: Sports Nutrition

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