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Does Quercetin Give You Energy?


At Health and Life, we are barraged on a daily basis for information from journalists, politicians and sumo wrestlers.  Most often we are not able to respond, but a few weeks ago we were asked a question that we felt deserved investigation:

Can the antioxidant quercetin give you more energy?

We had a sneaking suspicion that we had at some point encountered this substance, and were pleasantly surprised to find quercetin mentioned in a past post.

To find answers, we headed to the medical research databases we frequent.  What we found was very interesting.

First, it seems that in mice models, quercetin has been shown to increase oxygen capacity and improve muscle endurance.  Quite promising.  And, as we sifted through the data, we found other research papers with titles like: “quercetin increases brain and muscle mitochondrial biogenesis and exercise tolerance.”

Yet that too was for mice.

Then we started finding papers that said something different.  That while it improved energy in mice, in studies in humans, quercetin had no effect on performance or feeling of energy.  Study after study saying the same thing – little to no effect.

We did find one that said it had no effect on exercise performance but did reduce your risk of a upper respiratory tract infection.

What is quercetin, anyway?

Quercetin is a flavonoid, or a type of plant pigment, that acts an antioxidant.  It is one of the most abundant flavonoids and we eat about 25mg per day in the United States by normal consumption of fruits and vegetables.

If it can do anything, it is likely because it is an antioxidant.

Antioxidants in general are a big thing nowadays because they seem to promise to hold the key to better health.  They somehow fight “free radicals.”  And those are a bad thing.

Free radicals are generated by a variety of biological processes and are highly toxic to the cell.  They are even used, after all, as weapons by our immune system.  Preventing or getting rid of them is a good thing, then.

Yes.  And the benefits of doing so are likely to take a very long time to show benefit.  We highly doubt that consuming a greater amount of antioxidants would have any effect on energy levels in the short term.  Also, how much of the consumed quercetin would become biologically available?

There is more to be investigated regarding quercetin.  We encountered analyses that argued it has potent anti-cancer effects and that it may play a role in treating high blood pressure.  Yet as a quick, short-term energy booster?

Probably not the best solution.

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This post was written by on Tuesday, March 23, 2010. This author has written 223 posts on this blog and has 4876876 total posts views.

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  1. Eric Gastfriend

    Dear Health and Life,
    Thank you for covering this topic, I’m very interested in learning more about Quercetin. But how do you account for this website, ? They list 3 placebo-controlled double-blind human studies, with a link to more on PubMed. What’s wrong with those studies? They seem to have positive quantitative results.

  2. Dear Eric,

    That website is highly misleading and contains several important issues.

    A careful study shows that the studies linked to on PubMed are random and some of which are contrary to what the page holds. For instance, I see one paper titled: “Dietary quercetin supplementation is not ergogenic in trained men”

    If you don’t know what ergogenic means, you might miss that this paper is arguing that it does *not* have energy improving effects.

    The studies mentioned as references on that site use an extremely small sample size. A study of 11 people is worse than a study of no people because it is a lot more confusing – but gives you pretty similar quality data.

    The studies that showed no benefit used much larger sample sizes. One I’m looking at right now used roughly 70 people.

    Hope that helps.

    Best wishes,

  3. Eric Gastfriend

    That’s disappointing… Oh well.
    Thanks for the investigative research, David!

  4. Eric -

    it’s what we do =)

    best wishes,

  5. I started taking Quercetin in order to combat the itching associated with eczema. I noticed that after taking 2 capsules, I DID HAVE A BURST OF ENERGY, and CHANGE IN MOOD. The bottle did not mention anything about mood enhancement or increased energy. I think it works differently on different people. For me, it greatly helps my mood, therefore increases my energy levels. These are just my experiences.

  6. I take Quercetin on a daily basis. The reason I do, it gives me significant energy boost over a long period of time. It also improved my mood & anxiety, plus it just makes me feel great. So, you can quote all kinds of studies, make them sound insignificant, but, I can tell you from personal experience the stuff flat out works. Will if make me stronger or run further after a period of time? I don’t know & I don’t care, Quercetin is GREAT! . . .and please don’t forget about the studies done at Univ Of South Carolina & Peperdine Univ. I know they used a combination of ingredients, but come on, they were impressive.

  7. Could the effects just be different for different people?  I take it and it gives me tons of energy.  It’s not physical energy though, like an energy drink or caffeine.  Its more of an emotional response, I just makes me feel like I want to get stuff done instead of sit around.  I find it doesn’t give me any energy, I still have to find that myself (ex: easy to fall asleep still if I wanted to) but it turns my thoughts to productivity, and my emotional response is to be more productive.  However it works, I’ve got a lot done recently, and I’ve been avoiding energy drinks like redbull and coffee completely.  I’m not jittery at all.  So it seems like a win to me.

  8. I’m interested in the results some of the folks are reporting re: quercetin. How much is one supposed to take?

  9. How much are these folks taking that report a sort of mental energy boost, I’d like to try it?

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