The flavonoid quercetin is frequently found in low amounts as a secondary plant metabolite in fruits and vegetables. Isolated quercetin is also marketed as a dietary supplement, mostly as the free quercetin aglycone, and frequently in daily doses of up to 1000 mg d-1 exceeding usual dietary intake levels. The present review is dedicated to safety aspects of isolated quercetin used as single compound in dietary supplements. Among the numerous published human intervention studies, adverse effects following supplemental quercetin intake have been rarely reported and any such effects were mild in nature. Published adequate scientific data for safety assessment in regard to the long-term use (>12 weeks) of high supplemental quercetin doses (≥1000 mg) are currently not available. Based on animal studies involving oral quercetin application some possible critical safety aspects could be identified such as the potential of quercetin to enhance nephrotoxic effects in the predamaged kidney or to promote tumor development especially in estrogen-dependent cancer. Furthermore, animal and human studies with single time or short-term supplemental quercetin application revealed interactions between quercetin and certain drugs leading to altered drug bioavailability. Based on these results, some potential risk groups are discussed in the present review.
Keywords: adverse effects; drug interaction; nephrotoxicity; quercetin; tumor promotion.
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