Quercetin may Improve Athletic Performance

Quercetin may Improve Athletic Performance


Quercetin is a type of flavonoid, a class of plant pigments with antioxidant properties, found naturally in many fruits, vegetables, and grains. It’s one of the most abundant antioxidants in the human diet and plays a significant role in helping your body combat free radical damage, which is linked to chronic diseases.

Sources of Quercetin

You can find quercetin in many common foods, including:

  • Apples
  • Onions (particularly red onions)
  • Capers
  • Berries (like blueberries and cranberries)
  • Grapes
  • Red wine
  • Green tea
  • Citrus fruits
  • Olive oil
  • Dark cherries and dark-colored berries
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli and other leafy green vegetables

Potential Health Benefits

  1. Antioxidant Properties: Quercetin is known for its ability to fight oxidation and reduce inflammation. This can help combat the effects of aging and protect against chronic diseases.
  2. Heart Health: Some research suggests that quercetin may benefit heart health by reducing blood pressure and improving arterial health. Its antioxidant effect also contributes to protecting the heart.
  3. Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Quercetin can help lower the production of inflammation-causing substances in the body. This makes it potentially beneficial for inflammatory diseases like arthritis.
  4. Allergies and Asthma: Quercetin may help reduce symptoms of allergies and asthma by blocking substances involved in allergic reactions.
  5. Cancer Prevention: While research is still ongoing, some studies suggest that quercetin’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects could help prevent certain types of cancer.
  6. Immune System Support: It may support the immune system and improve the body’s resistance to infections.
  7. Blood Pressure Regulation: Quercetin may have a positive effect on blood pressure levels, potentially helping to reduce them.
  8. Exercise Performance: Some studies indicate that quercetin can enhance physical performance and reduce inflammation post-exercise.

Quercetin may Improve VO2 Max…

Results of a recent study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (Davis et al, 2010), suggest that Quercetin may improve endurance and VO2 max (maximal oxygen update or aerobic capacity) in healthy but untrained participants.

Thinking back several years, my own interest in sports nutrition and supplements developed when I was in high school (I graduated in 1993).  Back then, I used to compete on the provincial cycling and winter biathlon teams.  At the time, there was far less information available about sports supplements.  I can remember taking a multivitamin along with the use of energy bars and drinks.

One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is the interest of a diverse group of athletes in novel plant-derived supplements for improving health and athletic performance.  Quercetin, a flavonoid found in fruits and vegetables, has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and psychostimulant properties which may improve both mental and physical performance.

In this particular study, subjects consumed doses of 500 mg of food-grade quercetin powder (QU 995, Nutravail Technologies, Chantilly, VA) dissolved in enriched sugar-free Tang twice daily for just seven days.  The study authors suggested that Quercetin at 1g/day dosing is safe and well-tolerated.

However, Quercetin can interact with certain medication by affecting its metabolism, so if you are taking any medication, talk to your physician if you’re also supplementing with Quercetin.

After seven days of supplementation with Quercetin, the test subjects recorded a modest increase in VO2 max (3.9% vs. placebo; p < .05) along with a substantial (13.2%) increase in ride time to fatigue (p < .05).

These findings contrast with the previous results of Cureton et al, 2009, which found Quercetin to be ineffective for improving athletic performance in a similar study.

One thing to keep in mind also is that the primary study discussed in this article only included 12 volunteers.

The Study Authors Concluded:

“If the findings of this study and hypothesized biological mechanisms are confirmed in more rigorous human clinical trials, the implications of this novel nutritional strategy go far beyond improvements in endurance capacity to possible prevention and treatment of metabolic (e.g., diabetes, obesity), cardiovascular, and various degenerative diseases of aging in which mitochondrial dysfunction and physical inactivity are hallmarks.”


  1. Davis JM, Carlstedt CJ, Chen S, Carmichael MD, Murphy EA.  The Dietary Flavonoid Quercetin Increases VO2max and Endurance Capacity.  Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2010 Feb;20(1):56-62.
  2. Cureton KJ, Tomporowski PD, Singhal A, Pasley JD, Bigelman KA, Lambourne K, Trilk JL, McCully KK, Arnaud MJ, Zhao Q.  Dietary quercetin supplementation is not ergogenic in untrained men.  J Appl Physiol. 2009 Oct;107(4):1095-104. Epub 2009 Aug 13.
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