Taking Zinc and Quercetin Supplements Together Could Strengthen Immune System

When taken together, these synergistic supplements make immune benefits more potent and enhanced.

By Allison Futterman; Medically Reviewed by Dr. Ahmad Talha Azam
Mar 6, 2024 4:00 PMMar 14, 2024 3:03 PM
(Credit: Kmpzzz/Shutterstock)


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Zinc and quercetin are both powerful antioxidants that bolster the immune system. Many people associate zinc with fighting colds and the flu, but it also offers other health benefits. Zinc appears in every cell of the body, yet our bodies can’t produce it naturally.

While quercetin may not have the same name recognition as zinc, it gained popularity during the pandemic for its potential antiviral effects, which include inhibiting inflammation. The body also can't create it. Together, these two supplements can help with immune function.

What Is Zinc?

(Credit:Evan Lorne/Shutterstock)

Zinc is a mineral that boosts the immune system, aids metabolic function, helps reduce inflammation, and maintains the senses of taste and smell. It also assists with wound healing as 5 percent of the zinc we have is stored in the skin.

Foods high in zinc include shellfish (especially oysters), red meat, pork, tofu, yogurt, chickpeas, lentils, pumpkin seeds, oatmeal, and nuts.

Read More: Supplements Like Zinc and Vitamin B12 Can Help Brain and Memory Disorders

What Is Quercetin?

(Credit: Danijela Maksimovic/Shutterstock)

Quercetin is a plant compound known as a flavonoid, which is part of the larger group of polyphenols. It’s believed to reduce inflammation, blood pressure, and blood sugar. Quercetin is also thought to promote immune function, inhibit cancer cell growth, and provide anti-aging benefits. It also has promising antiviral properties.

Onions, kale, grapes, blueberries, cherries, tomatoes, and broccoli are among foods high in quercetin. Red wine, black and green tea, and other beverages also contain quercetin.

Read More: What Is Inflammation, and Why Is It Sometimes 'Bad' for Your Health?

The Benefits of Quercetin and Zinc Together

Zinc and quercetin are synergistic, meaning they are more effective when taken together than separately. This is because quercetin helps transport zinc into the center of cells. As a non-fat-soluble, positively charged ion, zinc needs a carrier to help it across cell membranes comprised of fat.

Quercetin is an ionophore, a fat-soluble substance that assists zinc in this process and increases zinc concentration within cells. Zinc isn’t as effectively absorbed without an ionophore — and the body can’t derive its maximum benefits. Taken together, the immune benefits are enhanced and more potent. 

Read More: Experts Warn Against Unregulated Dietary Supplements and Protein Powders

How Can I Take Zinc and Quercetin Together?

Various zinc and quercetin supplements are available, separately and combined. When deciding on a supplement, remember that the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of daily zinc intake for adults is 8 milligrams for women and 11 for men. The tolerable upper intake level (UL) is 40 milligrams daily for adults. For those taking quercetin, a daily amount of 500 to 1,000 milligrams is a typical dose.

Another way to reap the benefits of zinc and quercetin is to combine certain foods. You can combine a handful of nuts with some red grapes, or yogurt (preferably Greek) mixed with blueberries, and sautéed onions and apples as a side dish or topping for pork or steak.

Read More: Calcium and Magnesium Don't Mix, Along With These 6 Other Supplement Combinations

Frequently Asked Questions About Zinc and Quercetin

What are the Side Effects of Zinc?

Side effects at doses higher than 150 milligrams can include indigestion, stomach pain, headache, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.  

Who Should Not Take Zinc?

Zinc can interact with the following medications: blood pressure drugs called ACE inhibitors, quinolone and tetracycline antibiotics, and thiazide diuretics. If you take any of those drugs, you should check with your healthcare provider before taking zinc. 

What are the Side Effects of Quercetin?

Side effects can include headaches, tingling in the arms and legs, nausea, and gastrointestinal discomfort. High doses can cause kidney damage. 

Who Should Not Take Quercetin?

Anyone taking the following medication should avoid quercetin until they’ve consulted with their doctor: immunosuppressants, blood thinners, chemotherapy medications, corticosteroids, and blood pressure medicine. People with kidney disease or kidney issues of any type should avoid quercetin.

This article is not offering medical advice and should be used for informational purposes only.

Article Sources

Our writers at Discovermagazine.com use peer-reviewed studies and high quality sources for our articles, and our editors review for scientific accuracy and editorial standards. Review the sources used below for this article:

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