Information abounds regarding scientific research into longevity and healthy aging. There are countless new products in the natural food industry, each claiming to be the front-runner in longevity supplements. But are all products created equal? One product called quercetin, with powerful antioxidant properties, has some promising research showing a potential to reduce the incidence of age-related diseases.
Cellular aging occurs when cells can no longer reproduce or repair themselves, which can lead to age-related decline and chronic disease.
Quercetin is a flavonoid plant compound found in fruits and vegetables that has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties for cellular support.
It is ideal to get quercetin through dietary intake. Supplements are available, in consultation with your healthcare provider.
Several animal and in vivo studies have produced some favorable results but more concentrated human-based research is needed.
What is aging?
Aging is a complex process leading to physical signs of a decline in physiological functions, resulting in grey hair, wrinkled skin, and reduced vision, among other signs. Cells age by reducing their ability to divide until they stop dividing altogether, also called cellular senescence.
Additionally, aging cells lose the ability to communicate and repair themselves. The build-up of waste from cellular metabolism becomes more difficult to clear away, which can cause further damage. The gradual deterioration of cell function results in typical signs of aging and increases the risk of age-related disease.
What is quercetin?
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Quercetin is a natural plant pigment, known as a flavonoid, found in various fruits, vegetables, nuts, and grains. There is ongoing research into the health benefits of wuercetin, with some promising findings in preventing age-related diseases by supporting healthy cellular function.
Some foods that contain quercetin include, but are not limited to:
- Chili pepper
- Red grapes
- Citrus fruits
- Black tea
- Green tea
How does quercetin work?
Quercetin protects from cellular damage as a powerful antioxidant, reducing inflammation and improving cell function. Going into more detail, quercetin is one of the most potent antioxidants, which scavenge and neutralize free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that break down cells over time, causing oxidative stress and cell damage. Free radicals originate internally, through cellular metabolism, or externally, through sources such as smoking, pollution, alcohol, sun exposure, pesticides, and fried foods.
Additionally, quercetin is an effective anti-inflammatory that supports healthy aging by reducing chronic inflammation and boosting the immune system. It also prevents the release of histamines, cytokines, and enzymes responsible for the inflammatory process. As a result, quercetin can impact inflammatory conditions such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, and arthritis.
Furthermore, studies show that quercetin improves the signaling pathways of cellular processes that decline with aging. This occurs through activating enzymes and modifying cell proteins that hinder excessive cell cycle production found in types of cancer. Quercetin also aids in the repair of DNA damage, so some people have used it as a type of cancer prevention.
Much of the research on quercetin has been in animal research, but there have been some population studies with promising results. There is a need for further human studies.
- Cardiovascular disease. According to a research review published in the European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry, quercetin's antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties make it a potential healing agent for cardiovascular disease. Its cardiac benefits should be taken into consideration based on recent research.
- Diabetes. In an article published in Life, a review of studies conducted on animals with diabetes has shown that quercetin can lower blood glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance, and enhance metabolism. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties both work to improve pancreatic function. To explore quercetin as a possible treatment for diabetes, it needs more human-based studies.
- Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Due to quercetin’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it may reduce inflammation contributing to AD and other dementias. It can also protect and support brain function by aiding in the prevention of neurodegeneration. One Japanese study found that healthy older adults who ingested a quercetin-rich food group over 24 weeks showed a direct improvement in cognitive abilities compared to those who took a placebo.
- Parkinson's disease (PD). Due to the neuroprotective effects of quercetin, there is a reduction in the cellular changes that lead to Parkinson’s. Studies show the future promise of using quercetin as an adjuvant in treating central nervous system disorders. One study looked at a mouse model of PD, finding quercetin to be a promising treatment for PD as a neuroprotective agent, with further research needed.
You must consult your healthcare provider before adding a quercetin supplement to your daily intake. Quercetin nutritional supplements are available in 500 to 1000 mg dosages for up to 12 weeks. Pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should not take quercetin supplements. Additionally, certain medications may have adverse reactions when combined with quercetin.
Some side effects of taking a quercetin supplement may include headache, gastric upset, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. In addition, higher doses of quercetin may cause kidney damage. Quercetin supplements do not absorb well on their own, so taking them along with vitamin C will aid absorption. Quercetin taken with zinc has been shown to boost immunity.
While further study into quercetin’s potential for preventing and treating age-related diseases is beneficial, there are advantages to increasing your intake of quercetin-rich foods today. It can be as simple as adding blueberries or cherries to your cereal or snacking on whole apples. Use a variety of fruits and vegetables containing quercetin. In addition, a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding toxic substances can improve overall health and reduce the possibility of age-related illnesses.
- Molecules. Health Benefits of Quercetin in Age-Related Diseases.
- Frontiers in Immunology. Therapeutic application of quercetin in aging-related diseases: SIRT1 as a potential mechanism.
- Bioscience Reports. Quercetin modulates signaling pathways and induces apoptosis in cervical cancer cells.
- Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition. The effect of 24-week continuous intake of quercetin-rich onion on age-related cognitive decline in healthy elderly people: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group comparative clinical trial.
- Current Drug Targets. The Therapeutic Potential of Quercetin in Parkinson’s Disease: Insights into its Molecular and Cellular Regulation.
- MDPI Life. A Flavonoid on the Brain: Quercetin as a Potential Therapeutic Agent in Central Nervous System Disorders.
- European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. Therapeutic potential of quercetin as a cardiovascular agent.
- MDPI Life. Therapeutic Potential of Quercetin in the Management of Type-2 Diabetes Mellitus.