Quercetin & Zinc-Rich Foods Fight Viral Infections

Consuming foods rich in zinc and quercetin is essential for staying healthy, especially during cold and flu season.

Zinc is an important mineral involved in multiple aspects of immune system function, including the normal development, differentiation, and function of cells belonging to both innate and acquired immunity. 

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.  Symptoms of zinc deficiency include decreased sense of smell and taste, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, wounds that won’t heal, lack of alertness, and diarrhea.  Zinc deficiency is a common observation in the elderly.

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.

Consumed along with a diet rich in quercetin, zinc can inhibit viral replication.. Quercetin, a plant flavonoid found in fruits and vegetables, acts as a zinc ionophore.  Simply put, this means is it able to transport zinc  across the lipid membrane into the body’s cells, where it can stop viral replication. 

Foods that are high in quercetin include onions, apples, grapes, berries, broccoli, citrus fruits, cherries, and  leafy vegetables.

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.