Quercetin Phytosome® to Enhance Exercise Recovery and Performance
Quercetin serves as the backbone structure for many flavonoids – a group of plant pigments largely responsible for the colors of many fruits and flowers. Flavonoids are also responsible for the medicinal actions of foods, juices, herbs, and bee pollen.
Quercetin is consistently the most active of the flavonoids in experimental studies. It is a prime example of why flavonoids are referred to as “nature’s biologic response modifiers” because of their ability to modify the body’s reaction to other compounds, such as allergens, viruses, and carcinogens, as evidenced by their anti-inflammatory, antiallergic, antiviral, and anticancer properties. In addition, flavonoids act as powerful antioxidants, providing remarkable protection against oxidative and free radical damage.
Despite thousands of promising preclinical studies in experimental models and animal studies quercetin results from human clinical trials are scarce. Quercetin has been shown to improve hayfever, prevent the common cold, relieve symptoms of prostatitis, and help reduce inflammation. That said, quercetin has been shown to be poorly absorbed with a high degree of variability from one person to the next. In other words, some people absorb quercetin very well, while others hardly at all. Based upon results from current clinical studies it appears a positive most likely to occur at relatively high dosage levels (e.g., 1,000 mg per day) or by using quercetin Phytosome® to overcome these shortcomings.
Although quercetin has become a popular recommendation for allergies and inflammation, the best clinical support is in promoting athletic performance as well as reducing after-exercise muscle soreness, and speeding up recovery. Quercetin also reduced upper respiratory tract infections in athletes. In one study of 40 trained male cyclists who received quercetin or placebo before, during, and for 2 weeks, after a 3-day period in which subjects cycled for 3 hours/day at approximately 57% maximal workload, only 1 of 20 developed upper respiratory infection symptoms in the quercetin group compared with 9 of 20 in the placebo group. In another study, reduction in upper respiratory tract infection total sick days and severity was noted in middle aged and older subjects ingesting 1000 mg/day quercetin for 12 weeks who rated themselves as physically fit.
While these studies showed positive results, quercetin Phytosome® is far superior to regular quercetin. The Phytosome® process involves binding quercetin to phosphatidylcholine from sunflower lecithin through a patented process. The choline head of the phosphatidylcholine molecule binds to the quercetin while the fat-soluble phosphatidyl portion comprising the body and tail then envelopes the choline-bound quercetin. The result is a little micro sphere or cell is produced. The term “phyto” means plant while “some” means cell-like. What the Phytosome® process produces is a little cell whereby the quercetin protected from destruction by digestive secretions and gut bacteria.
There is a growing body of scientific studies showing improved absorption, utilization, and results with the Phytosome® process compared to the unbound compound. This has been shown most famously with curcumin. In regards to quercetin, the Phytosome® form has been shown to yield dramatically better absorption versus regular quercetin as well as produce better clinical results (discussed below). The blood level of quercetin produced by the Phytosome form were greater than 50 times the level produced by an equal amount of regular quercetin.1 Hence, 250 mg of quercetin Phytosome® (providing 100 mg of quercetin) would be equivalent to 5,000 mg of quercetin. That is a whopping dosage of quercetin.
In a pilot registry study, researchers evaluated the effects of the supplementation with a quercetin Phytosome® in amateur triathlon athletes. The method used was a specific study model of triathlon according to the “Sprint” distance. The individual triathlon training included repetition of the run portion of the triathlon 8 times in 14 days. A group of 23 athletes used quercetin phytosome® supplementation (one tablet of 250 mg quercetin Phytosome® supplying 100 mg of quercetin twice daily. A control group of 25 athletes did not use supplementation. All subjects performed a baseline measurement run and a second final measurement run at day 14. At the end of the study, subjective performance, post-training pain, cramps, time to full recovery and oxidative stress were also measured.
The improvement of time to complete the run was greater in subjects on quercetin supplementation compared with the control group (-11.3% vs. -3.9%; P<0.05). Similarly, post-run muscular pain, cramps, localized pain and the post-exercise recovery time were all considered better with the supplementation (P<0.05). Oxidative stress was also reduced (P<0.05).
The benefits observed were attributed to quercetin Phytosome®’s ability to significantly reduce oxidative stress as well as preventing red blood cells from breaking (hemolysis). No side effects were reported.
Quercetin Phytosome® is currently available in a formulation of omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils designed to support the human intestinal microbiome. This combination may prove to be the most ideal given all of the well-known effects of omega-3 fatty acids in improving human health including reducing inflammation. Quercetin Phytosome® has shown to produce much better absorption and clinical results than regular quercetin.
Quercetin in regular or Phytosome® form is well tolerated in humans with no side effects noted in the clinical studies. Animal studies have also showed that quercetin to have no apparent side effects, even when consumed in large quantities for long periods of time (up to 2 years). The reason why it is so safe is after absorption quercetin in any form is quickly bound to glucuronic acid or sulfur and circulates in this inactive form. However, at sites of inflammation or oxidative stress, the bond is broken. As a result, the quercetin is released to free form in order to exert its positive effects.
It is important to point out that quercetin may enhance the uptake from the intestine of certain drugs, including vinblastine, cyclosporine, digoxin, fexofenadine, losartan, nifedipine, felodipine, verapamil, and terfenadine. Dosage of these drugs may have to be reduced to avoid toxicity. If you are on one of these drugs, do not take quercetin without consulting with your doctor first for proper monitoring.
- Riva A, Ronchi M, Petrangolini G, Bosisio S, Allegrini P. Improved Oral Absorption of Quercetin from Quercetin Phytosome®, a New Delivery System Based on Food Grade Lecithin. Eur J Drug Metab Pharmacokinet. 2019 Apr;44(2):169-177.
- Riva A, Vitale JA, Belcaro G, et al. Quercetin phytosome® in triathlon athletes: a pilot registry study. Minerva Med. 2018 Aug;109(4):285-289.