Vitamin C and other plant-derived vitamins are well known as an important part of our diets, but a group of lesser known compounds, known as flavonoids or bioflavonoids, have more recently received recognition for their central role in supporting human health. They are not only vital for the absorption of vitamin C but have been shown to reduce oxidative stress and slow the effects of aging, with their anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.
What are bioflavonoids?
Citrus bioflavonoids are part of a larger family of flavonoids. There are a dazzling number of different flavonoids, with various benefits to human health. What they all have in common is that they are potent antioxidants found in plants, which help protect the organism from damage from the sun and infection.
Flavonoids can be categorised into different types depending on their chemical structure – although there’s no universal agreement as to how they should be grouped. Common groupings are: isoflavones, neoflavonoids, flavones, flavonols, flavanones, flavanonols, catechins, anthocyanins and chalcones. Within these categories are sub-categories, amounting to literally thousands of naturally occurring bioactive flavonoids.
A few of the most common bioflavonoids and their glucosides (molecules with a bonded sugar) found in citrus include quercetin (a flavonol), rutin (a glucoside of quercetin), the flavones tangeritin and diosmin, and the flavanone glucosides hesperidin and naringin.
You’ll find citrus bioflavonoids and more in Multiva, our multivitamin developed for kiwi men & women.
Enhance the effectiveness of vitamin C
An important role of citrus bioflavonoids is their ability to enhance vitamin C absorption and its antioxidant effects. Vitamin C supplements often contain synthesized ascorbic acid as their active ingredient. Without the bioflavonoids that are found in vitamin C-rich fruit and vegetables, this form of vitamin C is not well absorbed and can even be harmful, because it tends to oxidise in the body. The best vitamin C supplements also contain bioflavonoids.
Foods that are high in flavonoids include fruits and vegetables (especially the skins), certain herbs, cocoa, red wine (grape skins), nuts and seeds, green tea.
Other benefits of citrus bioflavonoids
Vascular system – As antioxidants, flavonoids are important for oxygenating tissues and normalising blood pressure. The flavonoids found in high concentrations in citrus peel have been found to be particularly effective in strengthening veins and capillaries, which can help to treat varicose veins, haemorrhoids, and painful leg swelling and cramps. Citrus bioflavonoids reduce the risk of heart disease, due to improved circulation and reduced inflammation.
Allergies – Several studies of citrus bioflavonoids, particularly quercetin, have shown them to exert natural antihistamine, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory effects that can decrease the symptoms of seasonal allergies, food allergies and asthma. A Chinese herbal formula containing quercetin was shown to be as effective and safe as some anti-allergy prescription medications.
Protection from infection and injury
Flavonoids provide resistance to infection and injury, and enhance recovery from infection and joint and muscle injury.
There is also evidence that citrus bioflavonoids help to protect your brain as it ages. Preliminary research suggests the flavonoid naringin may help counteract Alzheimer’s disease.
As a result of their proven antioxidant effects, bioflavonoids provide skin protection from UV damage from the sun.
A study of mice indicated that citrus bioflavonoids may reduce the risk of postmenopausal osteoporosis.
Citrus bioflavonoids help to regulate metabolic processes and may help prevent Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and obesity. Studies have observed a reduction of tryglycerides and cholesterol following treatment with bioflavonoids.