Friday, April 3, 2020

Consuming Foods Rich in Quercetin and Zinc Helps Prevent Viral Infections

Fnding treatment for COVID-19 is essential in minimizing the number of deaths from the virus. Drugs currently under investigation in the treatment of COVID-19 are hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine. In fact, the FDA has recently given emergency approval for both drugs to be distributed to hospitals across the country to treat COVID-19.

Both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are quinoline medications used to treat or prevent malaria. They are also used to treat symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus.

According to  one published study, acts as a zinc ionophore. Simply put, this means is it able to transport zinc ions across the lipid membrane into cells, so it can stop viral replication. This is likely why it can be effective in treating COVID-19.

Both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are not without side effects.  According to, in addition to a long list of side effects, they can cause cardiomyopathy, which can result in fatal cardiac failure and biventricular hypertrophy. This should be a major concern, especially in the elderly.

Quercetin:  A Natural Zinc Ionophore 

Quercetin, a plant flavonoid found in fruits and vegetables, also acts as a zinc ionophore.  It has the same mechanism of action as the experimental COVID-19 drugs, allowing zinc pass through the cell wall and into the cell, where it can halt viral replication.

Since the experimental drugs currently being used to treat COVID-19 have major side effects and also seem to be in short supply, it certainly makes sense to consider Quercetin as a viable alternative.

It is my belief, whenever possible, it is best to obtain nutrients from food rather than supplementation. Foods that commonly contain quercetin include onions, apples, grapes, berries, broccoli, citrus fruits, cherries, and  leafy vegetables.  However, Quercetin can be purchased in supplement form.  According to one published nutritional study, Quercetin, Inflammation and Immunity, quercetin glycoside is the most bioavailable form.

Please check with your healthcare practitioner before taking any quercetin supplement.

 Zinc Inhibits Viral Replication

Zinc is essential for multiple aspects of the immune system, including the normal development, differentiation, and function of cells belonging to both innate and acquired immunity. Consumed along with a diet rich in quercetin, it can inhibit viral replication.

Zinc deficiency can be caused by inadequate intake or poor gastrointestinal absorption due to impaired gut health.  Imbalance of zinc causes disease and promotes disease progression. Numerous studies have shown that zinc deficiency impairs immune function.  It is a common observation in the elderly, which is likely why contracting COVID-19 is so dangerous for the elderly.

I have heard several news reports stating one of the symptoms of Coronavirus or Covid-19 is decreased sense of smell and taste. My nutritional studies have taught me a decrease in both senses is often a sign of zinc deficiency. 

As with any nutrient, it's best to get zinc directly from food.  Good sources of zinc include beef. chicken, pork, flounder, sole, crab, oysters, baked beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, oatmeal, cashews, almonds, peas, to name a few.

Zinc can be purchased in supplement form.  A word of caution: taking too much zinc can cause depletion of copper in the body. This can be dangerous, as copper is necessary for red blood cell formation, as well as for maintaining healthy bones, blood vessels, and nerves.

Always check with your healthcare provider before supplementing with zinc.

If your diet is rich in zinc, and you are taking a multivitamin and mineral tablet daily, avoid zinc supplementation unless prescribed by your doctor.

Keep in mind that without an adequate intake of zinc, taking chloroquine, or a quercetin supplement is an ineffective treatment for COVID-19.

The Bottom Line:  Quercetin, a zinc ionophore. assists zinc in halting viral replication.  Eating healthy foods rich in quercetin and zinc helps prevent viral infections.