If you’re planning a big day of spring skiing, consider ingesting some quercetin before you head out. Quer-sah-who? Quercetin (kha-where-sah-tin) is an antioxidant flavonoid found in onions and apples. Several studies have found that this antioxidant powerhouse—commonly used for seasonal allergies—increases performance in athletes.
The most recent study conducted at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, found that after only two weeks, untrained men taking 1,000 mg of quercetin a day were able to increase their exercise performance. Which means you could power up that skin track just a little bit easier. Dr. David C. Neiman asked 30 men between the age of 18 and 28 to take either 1,000 mg of quercetin or placebos daily for two weeks, then after two weeks the placebos and quercetin were switched. The men ran for 12 minutes on a treadmill at the beginning and end of each phase of the study. Those taking quercetin had a three-percent increase in running distance—enough to make difference on a long backcountry hike.
Quercetin is a common chemical pigment in the rinds and barks of a wide variety of plants. It is found in large amounts in apple skins, onions, tea, and red wine. It is also found in leafy green vegetables, berries, and in herbs such as ginkgo and St. John's wort. It can also be taken as a supplement. This study appeared in the February 2010 edition of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. —Jess Higgins