One of the hottest ingredients as of late in the supplement industry for increasing performance is that of quercetin, it’s being promoted to provide a more ‘natural’ form of energy and to promote recovery. The truth is that quercetin is an effective supplement for intense training regimens, but we’ll have to separate fact from fiction, and determine how quercetin actually works so that you can decide for yourself if it’s worth all the hype.
Quercetin is a phytochemical that is found in apple skins, it is considered to be a relatively (compared to other natural sources) powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-histamine ingredient. It is also known to by an inhibitor in certain types of cancers as well. This has lead to its popularity and wide spread use as a stand alone supplement. However, as it related to athletic performance and bodybuilding, one of the intriguing aspects of quercetin are its possible benefits for recovery and promoting an increase in performance.
Although some may promote quercetin as a stand alone recovery product based on its antioxidant benefits, we must first look at the current state of research in terms of antioxidants and recovery from exercise. Research from Cambridge University, as recent as 2008 discussed the antioxidant requirements in response to exercise and determined: “There is growing evidence that one specific antioxidant cannot by itself prevent oxidative stress-induced damage…”(1).Which shoots down the theory that quercetin alone will provide you with the recovery benefits that you are looking for.
Another important factor to keep in mind that the article points to is the possible adverse effects of over supplementation with antioxidants. The inflammatory response to exercise plays an important role in tissue repair and consequently muscle building. It is for this reason that anti-inflammatory substances like antioxidants or ibuprofen, are considered to be detrimental to building muscle if taken in excess.
The most popular marketing tool for quercetin, is that It provides a more ‘natural’ form of energy, now that can take on many different meanings, especially when you consider how often caffeine is bashed and yet people forget it comes from natural sources like Guarana or Kola Nut. What was discovered last year at the University of South Carolina was that it increased brain and muscle mitochondria biogenesis independent of exercise (2).
Mitochondria are the powerhouse centers of your cells that generate energy; through exercise, it has been known that you can increase their formation as an adaptation to exercise. This study revealed that quercetin could actually aid in endurance capacity independent of exercise. Another interesting part of the study (which was done with rats) was that it increased voluntary wheel running activity, which bodes well for overall increases in energy independent of just increased performance while exercising.
Another interesting claim for quercetin is its immune support ability. However, what research has found is that although it works to reduce illness; it doesn’t necessarily increase your immune system capabilities following high intensity exercise (3). This would suggest that quercetin should be combined with a few other ingredients to help close the wholes in its comings.
As far as antioxidant activity, it may be ideal to combine quercetin with a vitamin A, C, and E, blend to take full advantage of the expatiated recovery of antioxidants in relation to intense exercise. As far as quercetin’s relationship to the immune system; using glutamine for immune system support along with quercetin’s propensity to reduce illness would be ideal. And since it is for sports performance, an electrolyte blend would best round out the blend to replenish the minerals lost during exercise.
This was the basis for Betancourt Nutrition’s new product called Englutarade (TM). It was designed to be the ideal sports performance blend which includes antioxidants, electrolytes, 3 forms of glutamine and a Mitochondria support complex that features quercetin.
Dustin Elliott is the Head Formulator for Betancourt Nutrition.
- I. Margaritis and A. S. Rousseau. Does physical exercise modify antioxidant requirements? Nutrition Research Reviews (2008), 21: 3-12 Cambridge University Press
- Davis JM, Murphy EA, Carmichael MD, Davis B. quercetin increases brain and muscle mitochondrial biogenesis and exercise tolerance. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2009 Apr;296(4):R1071-7. Epub 2009 Feb 11
- Nieman, David C. quercetin Reduces Illness but Not Immune Perturbations after Intensive Exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: September 2007 - Volume 39 - Issue 9 - pp 1561-1569