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I’ve just finished a series of blog posts about zinc and a great question came up in the comments: Do you need to have quercetin to absorb zinc? 

Do You Need To Take Quercetin With Zinc?

The short answer is no; we don’t need quercetin to absorb zinc. 

But the long answer is quercetin is a zinc ionophore, which means it helps get more zinc into cells. If you have been reading online about Covid-19 treatments, you may have come across zinc ionophores. Some of the most talked about ionophores include quercetin, hydroxychloroquine, and components of green tea and black cumin seed. 

The theory says that zinc ionophores help to fight C-19 by getting more zinc into cells. Does this happen in practice?

How Does Zinc Fight C-19? And Do Ionophores Like Quercetin Make Zinc More Effective?

Getting more zinc into cells is a smart strategy because zinc improves immune function in general. In addition, zinc specifically inhibits C-19 virus replication and decreases the availability of receptors that C-19 viruses can attach to. 

At this point, we don’t have enough clinical research to say whether taking quercetin (or another ionophore) with zinc actually helps more than taking one or the other alone.   

What Does The Research Say About Zinc and Quercetin for C-19 Treatment and Prevention?

A woman sits on a bed researching zinc and quercetin on a laptop.Here is a brief summary of what we know so far on zinc and quercetin based on current clinical research (references below) as C-19 treatments:

  1. Prophylactic zinc supplementation may help prevent symptomatic C-19.
  2. Zinc supplementation may help with improvement of C-19 symptoms.
  3. Zinc supplementation may help recover sense of smell and taste more quickly.
  4. Quercetin supplementation may help people recover more quickly from C-19 infection.

The clinical evidence for quercetin and zinc in C-19 treatment and prevention is preliminary but promising (and more trials are underway). The theories for their use as antiviral agents are sound and well supported by evidence. Safety data is robust and reliable. 


Zinc and quercetin are safe, inexpensive, and easy to get from diet and/or supplements. The evidence that we have so far indicates that they are both probably helpful in dealing with C-19. However, we don’t have evidence that zinc and quercetin need to be taken together to be effective, and the research we do have shows each of them being effective when given on their own.

Consciously making an effort to incorporate extra zinc and quercetin into your family’s life during the pandemic makes a lot of sense from a pragmatic point of view, even though the research isn’t yet complete.  

There are decades of research showing many other health benefits of both zinc and quercetin. 



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Dr. Green Mom

Dr. Mayer is a naturopathic medical doctor and an expert in nutrition and wellness as it relates to pediatrics and families. Her passion for prevention of disease as cure fueled her desire to immerse herself into specializing in adult onset chronic conditions, as well as childhood chronic illness.

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