Quercetin exists in food as a pigment and belongs to a group of other compounds called flavonoids. Flavonoids, and specifically quercetin, frequently act as antioxidants in the human body. This means that free radicals (un-bound oxygen atoms with charged electrons) are attracted to the antioxidant compound, which prevents the charged electrons from damaging other body structures. Ultimately, this serves many purposes that make quercetin valuable to people: general health maintenance, immune boosting, inflammation-fighting, and improved exercise performance, among others.1
For all these reasons, people want to have quercetin in their bodies, and it is naturally found in many nutritious food sources, including many fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and some tea and wine.1 However, diets low in these items may not have as much quercetin as could be beneficial to the consumer, and therefore, supplementation can be beneficial.2
Food Formulation Considerations
There are several conjugations of quercetin that are naturally existing in foods, and they have different levels of bioavailability. One of the more bioavailable conjugations is derived from onions, and is quercetin glucoside, which is frequently compared to apple-derived quercetin, often found as quercetin rhamnoside or quercetin galactoside, and is less bioavailable.3
Quercetin is lipophilic, which means that it is best absorbed by the human body when there is fat present.3 Therefore, it would be less beneficial to supplement a food formulation with quercetin if that food does not contain dietary fat.
Quercetin has been found to be relatively heat stable, not showing breakdown or declination in levels until about 150ºC. That being said, research suggests that onion powder should not be heated above 120ºC, as the sugars attached to quercetin will progressively break down at that temperature and above.4
While quercetin is found naturally in food items, there has been little research as to whether quercetin supplementation is safe, particularly for pregnant and breastfeeding women, children, and adolescents.5
Products such as PL Thomas’ Appol™ line provide the quercetin-containing ingredients food formulators may want to add to their products if they are in the market to provide antioxidant health benefits to their consumers.6
The quercetin market in the pharmaceutical category was worth 261.12 million in 2020, and is expected to grow to 406.58 million by 2027, with a CAGR of 6.53% from 2021 to 2027.7 While this data is focused on the pharmaceutical field, the notable growth of the market indicates that it is likely that health-conscious consumers would also be interested to see quercetin in their food products as well.
- Healthline: What Is Quercetin?
- Quercetin in Food as Compared to Supplementation
- Bioavailability of Quercetin
- Temperature-dependent studies on the total phenolics, flavonoids, antioxidant activities, and sugar content in six onion varieties
- PL Thomas Develops Quercetin Ingredients
- Quercetin Market Size, Share & Trends Analysis Report By Type (Food Grade, Reagent/Chemical Grade, Others) By Nature (Organic, Conventional) By End Uses (Food & Beverage Industry, Pharmaceutical, Dietary Supplement & Nutraceutical, Others) Based On Region, And Segment Forecasts, 2021 – 2027
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