Let’s face it, this time of year can be particularly tricky ? spring is supposed to be in the air, but those sunny days are still few and far between; it can be a real struggle getting back into your gym routine before the summer holidays and many of us feel generally tired and lacking in energy.
When I’m prone to feeling like this, my first thought is: vitamin D deficiency. While there is no clear pattern of symptoms for vitamin D deficiency, fatigue is certainly a tell-tale sign especially if you’ve been sun deprived during the long winter months.
Apples, grapes, berries and red cherries
There’s no refuting the fact that most of us living in the Northern hemisphere run on empty when it comes to vitamin D, but there is something else you can rely on to battle winter fatigue: quercetin.
Research from the University of South Carolina has shown that red apples and other dark fruits like red grapes, blueberries, red cherries, and blackberries may unlock the secret to beating fatigue for good. That’s because these fruits are loaded with quercetin, a flavonoid that functions as a powerful antioxidant in your body.
For this latest study, published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, the researchers enrolled 12 healthy college-age participants who were all relatively active. However, they were not physically trained athletes, and they were not taking part in a regular exercise training programme.
During the 7 day placebo controlled trial period, the participants were told not to alter their physical activity. Half of the participants received 500mg of quercetin and the other half was given a placebo. At the end of the trial all the participants were given a fitness test, riding a stationary bicycle to the point of fatigue.
The results showed that after taking a quercetin supplement for only seven days, the participants in the study had a 13.2 per cent increase in endurance and a 3.9 per cent increase in VO2max ? one of the most important measures of fitness.
Commenting on the results, lead researcher Dr. Mark Davis said: “These were statistically significant effects that indicate an important improvement in endurance capacity in a very short time. Quercetin supplementation was able to mimic some of the effects of exercise training.”
The researchers are not clear on how quercetin boosts energy and improves endurance, but they think this powerful antioxidant goes to work on your cells’ mitochondria ? the little power stations that feed your body the energy it needs.
But the health benefits of quercetin don’t stop there. It has also been proven in studies to cut your stroke risk, ward off certain types of cancer and help prevent dangerous free radicals from damaging your cells that can lead to disease and premature ageing.
So, if you want to fight that last bit of winter fatigue, apart from topping up on vital vitamin D, you should also add red grapes, blueberries, blackberries, red cherries and red apples to your shopping basket. Alternatively you can look for a high quality quercetin supplement, which is available in most alternative health food stores.
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
Arnold School study reveals benefits of quercetin, published online sc.edu/news/newsarticle.php