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Arnold School study reveals benefits of quercetin

Quercetin may not be a household word -- yet.

But a study by researchers at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health shows that the powerful antioxidant/anti-inflammatory compound found in fruits and vegetables significantly boosts endurance capacity and maximal oxygen capacity (VO2max) in healthy, active but untrained men and women.

The findings of the study – one of the first in humans to examine the energy-boosting effects of quercetin – are reported in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, published online Wednesday (June 24).

Mark Davis
Mark Davis

Dr. Mark Davis, the study’s lead author and a professor of exercise science, said the fatigue-fighting and health properties of quercetin – found in the skins of red apples, red onions, berries and grapes – have implications not only for athletes and soldiers whose energy and performance are tested to the extreme, but also for average adults who battle fatigue and stress daily.

“The natural, biological properties of quercetin that include powerful antioxidant and anti-imflammatory activity, as well as the ability to boost the immune system and increase mitochondria (the powerhouse of the cell) in muscle and brain is great news for those who often think that they’re too tired to exercise,” Davis said.

“While there’s no magic pill to make people get up and move, or to take the place of regular exercise, quercetin may be important in relieving the fatigue that keeps them sedentary and in providing some of the benefits of exercise,” he said. “We believe that this could be a major breakthrough in nutrition.”

For the study, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Defense, 12 participants were randomly assigned to one of two treatments. Half were given 500 milligrams of quercetin twice a day in Tang for seven days. The other subjects drank Tang with placebos. After the seven days of treatment, during which the subjects were told not to alter their physical activity, the participants rode stationary bicycles to the point of fatigue.

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Quercetin: Energy naturally

  • What: Quercetin, the powerful antioxidant/anti-inflammatory compound found in fruits and vegetables, found to be a natural energy booster
  • Who: Mark Davis, Arnold School of Public Health
  • Where: International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism (published online Wednesday, June 24)

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