Improve your athletic performance with Quercetin
Quercetin is a well-known antioxidant found in many fruits, vegetables, seeds, tea, and wine. Antioxidants help remove oxidants in the body that would otherwise react with molecules such as protein, cell membranes, lipids and DNA, damaging the cells. Oxidation is one of the body's processes that also contribute to ageing. The health benefits of Quercetin include age-related disease protection, protection against bacterial and viral infections, an anti-allergy and protection against cardiovascular diseases. This flavonoid has been the subject of many research studies, including whether it can help improve athletic performance. How can Quercetin improve your athletic performance?
What do we mean by athletic recovery and performance?
Firstly, let's look at what makes good recovery in athletes. Endurance is the strength to continue without stress, fatigue, or other conditions. The higher the endurance, the chances of injury are reduced. Some of the aspects that help with recovery include:
- Stretching: increases blood flow to the muscles, providing oxygen and energy to the muscles. While also enhancing flexibility
- Hydration: during exercise, your body loses fluids through sweating to maintain body temperature. It also allows muscles to work appropriately, fighting fatigue.
- Massage: this helps enhance flexibility, decreases soreness and improves recovery.
- Anti-inflammatory medications decrease the soreness, inflammation and muscle pains before and after exercise.
This article will mainly focus on the last aspect, anti-inflammatory medication while including other processes that help recovery. Quercetin is a supplement which decreases inflammation in the body. The article consists of research which shows how taking a Quercetin supplement can improve athletic performance.
Quercetin is an antioxidant
Quercetin decreases oxidative stress due to its antioxidant properties, which are needed to reduce recovery time after training. The NMN Bio’s Quercetin is combined with Vitamin C, which is also an antioxidant, providing additional benefits to the supplement and increasing Quercetin’s uptake in the body.
One cause of delayed recovery during training is partly related to oxidative stress, and, Quercetin is associated with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Quercetin acts as a scavenger for reactive oxygen species protecting against lipid peroxidation.
A group of Italian researchers studied the effectiveness of Quercetin as a means of recovery in triathletes. In this study, non-professional triathletes were recruited to take a tablet of 250 mg Quercetin supplement twice daily with breakfast and dinner. A control group was also studied, following identical training and nutritional plans. The participant’s recovery was measured using a Visual Analogue Scale, and Oxidative stress was measured by checking free radicals in the plasma.
The results showed that the supplement improved performance and endurance. The participants who took Quercetin reduced their time to complete the race by 10 %, improving training and reducing their pain following the training.
The participants that took Quercetin experienced reduced fatigue levels rested better, improved performance quality, and decreased oxidative stress.
Quercetin and reduction in muscle damage
Studies have shown that Quercetin reduces muscle damage and improves muscle strength by improving the energy supply in the muscle cells, reducing post-exercise inflammation. It also enhances lean body mass, basal metabolic rate and energy needed for essential physical functions.
Quercetin is shown to have an antioxidant effect in muscles, contributing to better muscle recovery. Intracellular mitochondria increase when the flavonoid is consumed. Mitochondria are the cell's powerhouse, and muscle cells have specialised cell membranes (sarcolemma), which are tightly packed with these mitochondria, allowing for constant energy (ATP) supply to the muscle cells—increasing muscle strength and decreasing soreness.
A study of 60 male athletic participants was done analysing the effects of Quercetin on their body composition, exercise performance and biomarkers. The participants were divided into four groups, each given different supplements for eight weeks while continuing their exercise and regular diets. The groups were given:
- Group 1: 500 mg Quercetin + 250 mg Vitamin C
- Group 2: 500 mg Quercetin + placebo pill
- Group 3: 500 mg Quercetin
- Group 4: 250 mg Vitamin C
The results showed that in the group taking Quercetin and vitamin C, there was a change in the lactate dehydrogenase, VO2 max, total energy expenditure, total body water and lean body mass. Lactate dehydrogenase is an enzyme that helps maintain cells' homeostasis when oxygen is absent during exercise. Other studies also showed that the non-athletic participants taking 500 mg of Quercetin supplement showed improved fatigue, VO2 max and endurance among participants compared to a control group of individuals taking a placebo.
Improving muscle strength is not just a concern for athletes but equally for those who perhaps cannot exercise or struggle with health issues like obesity. Studies on Quercetin and obesity have shown that it can improve musculoskeletal atrophy, which is the decrease in muscle mass when the breakdown of proteins (in the muscle) is higher than protein synthesis. Additionally, this condition is also associated with other metabolic-related issues like insulin resistance. The study on mice showed that Quercetin inhibits the inflammatory receptors and their signalling pathway. Quercetin’s anti-inflammatory properties help reduce the muscle mass damage caused by obesity and, therefore, could be used as a potential treatment to prevent mass muscle degradation.
Quercetin and improvement of VO2max
VO2 max (maximal oxygen consumption) is an aspect of fitness, performance, and longevity. It refers to cardiorespiratory fitness, the maximum oxygen consumed during exercise with an increase in intensity. It is measured in litres of oxygen per minute or in athletes as millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of body mass per minute.
- Non-athlete healthy male: 35- 40 mL/(kg/min)
- Non-athlete healthy female: 27- 31 mL/(kg/min)
- Male runners: 85 mL/(kg/min)
- Female runners: 77 mL/(kg/min)
As you can see, the VO2 max varies mainly with sex, training, and oxygen supply. Quercetin intake has been identified as a flavonoid which can increase the number of intracellular mitochondria, meaning it can help improve the VO2 max. A meta-analysis of the research and effects of Quercetin showed this.
Another study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism showed that in 12 untrained healthy participants, it increased their time to fatigue by an impressive 13.2% and a 3.2 % increase in their VO2 max. The University of South Carolina research tested the effects of Quercetin by supplementing the participants with 500 mg of Quercetin twice a day for one week. Dr Mark Davis (University of North Carolina) ‘’This apparent increase in fitness without exercise training may have implications beyond performance enhancement to health promotion and disease prevention.’’
Quercetin is not an alternative to a healthy diet and regular exercise. Still, it can help improve endurance and recovery time, which are needed in athletes and non-athletes.
Quercetin stimulates the increase in mitochondria in the cells.
Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell. Here respiration and energy production takes place (ATP production). In mitochondrial biogenesis, mitochondria increase in number and size, and there are different stimulations for mitochondrial biogenesis to take place.
Mitochondrial biogenesis during exercise is triggered by increased calcium when muscle fibres contract, resulting in increased expression of the mitochondrial and nuclear genes. The presence of Quercetin is found to mimic this process and therefore increase mitochondria density in skeletal muscle without exercise. An increase in mitochondria in muscle cells allows for reduced fatigue.
In a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 26 untrained adult males took Quercetin supplements for two weeks, and their VO2 max was measured after exercise. The results showed that their running performance was improved.
Similarly to a study on 11 cyclists, which showed a performance increase of 1.7 % after being a supplement with Quercetin for six weeks, a study on 26 badminton players, taking 1000 mg of Quercetin for eight weeks showed that their time to exhaustion increased after taking the supplement when compared to a placebo group, which did not take the supplement. However, the supplement did not reduce body fat percentage. The mechanisms are suggested to be related to mitochondrial biogenesis in the skeletal muscles, an improvement in the redox state of the skeletal muscle (due to Quercetin’s properties as an antioxidant), reduced inflammation in the muscles, and the protection of skeletal muscle proteins.
Conclusions and main takeaways
Should athletes try Quercetin?
Definitely. But not just athletes! Quercetin provides many benefits, helping with seasonal allergies, heart disease, anti-ageing, decreased anxiety, and improved digestive issues. Athletes and non-athletes can find taking this supplement beneficial. NMN Bio’s Quercetin is 250 mg combined with Vitamin C for enhanced absorption. The recommended dose is 500 mg daily, taken with the first or second meal of the day. You can read more about when to take Quercetin and other supplements here.
- It reduces recovery time due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- It prevents muscle damage and reduces decreased muscle mass.
- It improves endurance and VO2 max in athletes and non-athletes.
- It stimulates mitochondrial biogenesis in cells.
The studies indicate that taking the Quercetin supplement can improve performance without changing diets or training regimes, which is favourable for athletes and non-athletes.
Nothing mentioned in this article is considered medical advice. Always consult your doctor before taking any supplements and starting a new exercise regime. Supplements do not replace a healthy diet, exercise and balanced lifestyle.
Resources and Further Reading
Athletes and recovery time: