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How Zinc and Quercetin Team Up for Immune Support

Chris D. Meletis, N.D.

You might have known that zinc is important for healthy immunity. But did you know that zinc becomes even more effective when it’s paired up with specific substances that can enhance its entry into cells? These substances are called ionophores, and one of the most effective ionophores is quercetin.

What Is an Ionophore?

Zinc is an important essential mineral. But before it can exercise its many health benefits it needs to gain entry into the body’s cells. It’s difficult for zinc to do this on its own. That’s where ionophores come into play.  

Ionophore is a Greek word that essential means “ion carrier.” Ionophores are chemicals that bind ions in order to transport them across the cell membrane. For optimal absorption, zinc needs ionophores to get it out of the bloodstream and into the cells where it can do the most good.1

A number of substances can be used as ionophores, but quercetin is one of the best examples.1

Quercetin and Zinc Benefits

There are a lot of reasons why you want to maximize zinc absorption with ionophores like quercetin. Zinc is an essential nutrient needed for over 300different cellular processes.2 Consequently, Zinc plays a lot of important roles in the body, not the least of which is supporting healthy immunity. Many molecules that play a role in immunity need zinc in order to do their job properly.

Zinc also maintains antioxidant levels and reduces oxidative stress within cells. When zinc levels are optimal, the body is more likely to stay healthy even when confronted with viruses and other immune threats. Unfortunately, when a person falls ill, zinc levels drop as the body uses up this important immune-boosting trace mineral. This leads to lower than normal levels of zinc at a time when you need it the most.    

In addition to immunity, zinc:2,3

• Plays a role in maintaining healthy vision

• Keeps the prostate gland healthy  

• Is important for wound healing

• Maintains taste and smell

Health Benefits of Quercetin

Quercetin is a polyphenol found in such food items as apples, onions, asparagus, red grapes, berries, capers, and green and black tea. It is a zinc ionophore that can raise zinc levels in cells.1Enzymes targeted by polyphenols like quercetin also require zinc.1

Emerging evidence indicates quercetin may maintain immune health when faced with viral challenges through its effects on viral proteins and the ACE2 receptor.4,5It has been theorized that the reason why quercetin is able to support a healthy immune response may have to do with its zinc ionophore actions.1

The health benefits of quercetin extend beyond immunity. It supports healthy blood clotting and an optimal inflammatory response.4Flavonoids like quercetin can change the characteristics of immune cells known as macrophages from pro-inflammatory to anti-inflammatory.6

In addition, quercetin can maintain the health of the mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells.4

Ionophore Supplements

The combination of zinc and quercetin makes an ideal immune support supplement. Zinc and quercetin supplements can fortify your immunity, strengthen the mitochondria, and support overall cellular health. Adding quercetin to the mix gives zinc a helping hand and is a great way to keep yourself healthy all year long.  

References:

1.         Dabbagh-BazarbachiH, Clergeaud G, et al. J Agric Food Chem.2014;62(32):8085-8093.

2.         Kelleher SL, McCormick NH, et al. Adv Nutr. 2011;2(2):101-111.

3.         Mayo Clinic. Published 2020.https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-zinc/art-20366112.

4.         Derosa G, Maffioli P, et al. Phytother Res. 2021;35(3):1230-1236.

5.         Önal H, Arslan B, et al. TurkJ Biol. 2021;45(4):518-529.

6.         Mendes LF, Gaspar VM, et al. Sci Rep. 2019;9(1):14906.

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