Zinc, Quercetin and What the Heck is an Ionophore

Zinc Supports Your Immune System

Zinc plays an important role in many physiological functions including immune function, wound healing, insulin and blood pressure regulation, modulation of inflammatory responses, and the regulation of gene expression. Zinc is even being considered and trialled as a potential supportive treatment against Covid-19 due to its immune-modulatory effect, as well as direct antiviral effect.

Zinc is an essential nutrient, meaning your body can't produce or store it. For this reason, and because it's involved in so many physiological processes, you must get a constant supply through diet. Red meat, shellfish, and legumes are the top three sources of dietary zinc.

It is recommended that men get 11mg of zinc per day, while women need 8mg. Unfortunately, it is estimated that 20% of diets are zinc deficient. There is a lot of scientific and epidemiological evidence showing zinc provides protection against respiratory complaints. For example, low zinc status is considered a risk factor for pneumonia in the elderly and those with high serum zinc have a lower risk of developing the condition.

When dietary sources of zinc are inadequate, or you feel your immune system could use extra support, zinc supplementation is highly desirable. Xtendlife's latest product VasQFlow, contains about half your daily zinc requirement per serving (4.5mg elemental zinc). This is an excellent option to provide a 'top-up' of zinc in case dietary sources are inadequate and to provide extra support for your immune system.

It is worth noting that due to the potential side effects associated with excess zinc consumption, it's best not to exceed the upper limit of 40mg elemental zinc per day.

The Problem With Zinc

While it's a no-brainer that getting adequate zinc is a prerequisite for a healthy immune system, the situation with zinc and its cellular functions is more complicated than it seems. The problem is zinc isn't very good at getting inside cells.

When we ingest zinc, either from food or a supplement, it heads into our digestive system where most of the absorption occurs in the small intestine. After it is absorbed, zinc circulates in the blood plasma, outside of cells.

Normally, we have low levels of zinc in our plasma (outside of cells). When zinc is at a low level, only a tiny amount of zinc can get into cells. This is because it has difficulty crossing cell membranes, and once inside cells, proteins called metallothioneins keep intracellular zinc levels low.

Science has uncovered substances called "ionophores" (pronounced EYE-ON-OH-FORS) that can increase the amount of zinc that gets into cells. Researchers used cells in petri dishes to measure zinc outside cells and inside cells. They also infected the cells with various viruses and measured the amount of viral inhibition. They found that when zinc was used on its own at typical concentrations that are found in human plasma, the concentration inside cells was very low. The amount of viral inhibition was also low.

In contrast, when they included an ionophore, they noticed a large increase in zinc inside the cells, and this was also effective at inhibiting viral replication.

What Is an Ionophore?

Zinc is found in every cell in the body. It’s a metal and is not fat-soluble, meaning it can’t move through cell membranes that are made of fats. To get into and out of cells, it needs help. Help is available to zinc in two forms – zinc binding proteins and zinc ionophores.

Zinc binding proteins are located on cell membranes of every cell of the body to control the inwards flow and outflow of zinc in cells. Zinc binding proteins work at a set speed doing their job - a bit like a luggage conveyor belt that can only transport a fixed number of zinc molecules at any one time.

The other option for assisting zinc into cells is ionophores. If we want to get more zinc inside cells to inhibit viral replication, then we need to look at zinc ionophores.

An ionophore is a fat-soluble substance that reversibly binds zinc and transports it across cell membranes. In doing so, zinc ionophores increase the amount of zinc inside cells, thereby increasing its effectiveness. There are several natural zinc ionophores available currently. Here at Xtendlife we have reviewed all the literature to find the ionophore we believe delivers superior benefits.

Quercetin Acts as a Zinc Ionophore

Introducing quercetin, the premium zinc ionophore for enhanced zinc functionality. Quercetin is a plant flavonoid that was initially studied as a zinc ionophore in 2014. Researchers showed that quercetin was capable of rapidly increasing zinc inside cultured mouse cells and liposomes.

Quercetin has been the subject of intense research over the years, mainly for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-supporting properties. Recently, many researchers and clinicians have postulated that quercetin may be useful in the fight against covid-19, however, at this stage, definitive clinical evidence is lacking. What we do know is that quercetin provides an excellent, natural option to support your immune system - both through its own actions and due to its ionophore activity with zinc.

When you think of XtendlLife's latest product VasQFlow, you'll probably be thinking about its benefits for the vascular system and blood flow. However, if you look a little deeper at the formulation, you will see that is also contains an excellent combination of ingredients that are well known to support a healthy immune system.

With zinc and its ionophore quercetin, as well as Vitamin C and Vitamin D3, VasQFlow is an excellent option for supporting your immune system. Strong immunity and good health have never been more important than they are right now.


Help support your immune system with zinc and its ionophore quercetin, as well as Vitamin C and Vitamin D3.

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Anatoly V Skalny, Lothar Rink ,Olga P Ajsuvakova, Michael Aschner Viktor A Gritsenko, Svetlana I Alekseenko, Andrey A Svistunov, Demetrios Petrakis, Demetrios A Spandidos, Jan Aaseth, Aristidis Tsatsakis, Alexey A Tinkov. Zinc and respiratory tract infections: Perspectives for COVID 19 (Review). Int J Mol Med. 2020 Jul;46(1):17-26.

Husam Dabbagh-Bazarbachi, Gael Clergeaud, Isabel M Quesada, Mayreli Ortiz, Ciara K O'Sullivan, Juan B Fern-Larrea. Zinc ionophore activity of quercetin and epigallocatechin-gallate: from Hepa 1-6 cells to a liposome model. J Agric Food Chem. 2014 Aug 13;62(32):8085-93.

Ruben Manuel Luciano Colunga Biancatelli, Max Berrill, John D. Catravas, and Paul E. Marik. Quercetin and Vitamin C: An Experimental, Synergistic Therapy for the Prevention and Treatment of SARS-CoV-2 Related Disease (COVID-19). Front. Immunol., 19 June 2020.

Dr. Amanda Wiggins
Xtend-Life Research Scientist

Dr. Amanda Wiggins works with Xtend-Life as the Chief Research Scientist, where she can use her passion for science, research and nutrition.