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Holding neurogan epicatechin supplements. Text: What is epicatechin?

What Is Epicatechin?

Epicatechin is a naturally occurring flavonoid with a unique structure and powerful antioxidant potential. Biohackers and athletes are interested in using epicatechin supplementation to boost athletic performance and muscle gains.

In this article, we'll examine epicatechin in depth, including its origin, how it works in the body and the scientific backing behind its efficacy.

What is Epicatechin?

Epicatechin Chemical Structure

Epicatechin is a type of compound known as a flavonoid, specifically a flavan-3-ol.

Flavonoids are a diverse group of phytonutrients (plant chemicals) found in almost all fruits and vegetables. Their purpose in these plants is to provide color, help the plant combat environmental stressors, and protect against pests.

Its structure makes epicatechin stand out among flavonoids, which lends itself to specific benefits. Unlike other flavonoids, epicatechin has a simpler structure, giving it a much stronger antioxidant potential [1]. This aspect contributes significantly to its health benefits in humans for supporting heart and skeletal muscle health.

Epicatechin Natural Sources

Dark Chocolate bars

Epicatechin is naturally found in many foods. Some of the richest sources include:

  • Cocoa and dark chocolate
  • Green tea
  • Grapes
  • Apples
  • Blackberries
  • Broad beans (Fava beans)

The problem with consuming epicatechin from these foods alone is that you do not get very substantial or consistent doses. For instance, the amount of epicatechin found in raw cocoa beans can vary depending on the plant's origin, growing conditions, and processing.

Cocoa beans might contain anywhere from 2% to 3% of flavanols by weight, with epicatechin a substantial portion of this content [2]. 

One pound (about 454 grams) of cocoa beans could translate to approximately 9 to 14 grams of total flavanols. However, studies don't always detail the specific percentage of epicatechin within that range.

However, it's very rare that you consume raw cocoa, and processing steps such as fermentation, roasting, and processing to produce more palatable products can decrease the amount of flavinoids left in the food.

The Potential Health Benefits of Epicatechin

Interest in epicatechin, a health-promoting compound, began in the late 1990s with research on chocolate's effects on cardiovascular health [2].

A pivotal moment in recognizing epicatechin came from observing the Kuna people, an indigenous group on the coast of Panama. Researchers noted that the Kuna, who consumed large amounts of cocoa, exhibited unusually low rates of heart disease and high blood pressure, and the studies suggested their health benefits were tied to the high levels of epicatechin in the cocoa they consumed [3].

Let's take a closer look at the potential health benefits of epicatechin.

Cardiovascular Health

Cardiovascular Health

There is ongoing research into epicatechin's role in supporting cardiovascular health.

Studies suggest that epicatechin can help support blood vessels' healthy function, facilitating blood circulation [4]. Effective circulation is linked to overall cardiovascular health and a reduction in cardiovascular disease.

Muscle Icon

Muscle Function and Exercise Endurance Capacity

Some research has explored the relationship between epicatechin and muscle function.

Evidence suggests that epicatechin might support muscle health by enhancing nitric oxide production—a molecule that helps dilate blood vessels, improve blood flow, and carry oxygen and nutrients to hard-working muscle tissues during exercise [5].

On top of this, epicatechin may also support mitochondrial health through a process called mitochondrial biogenesis — where the number and efficiency of energy-producing mitochondrial within muscle cells, which may lead to improved muscle endurance and strength, as in theory, muscles can work harder and longer before fatigue sets in [6].

In terms of muscle gains, research suggests that epicatechin may play a role in muscle growth and repair mechanisms through myostatin inhibition. Myostatin is a protein that inhibits muscle growth, and epicatechin has been associated with reduced levels of myostatin, potentially allowing for increased muscle mass [7]. 

Now, this effect isn't as drastic as hormonal muscle-building medications, but it is still an interesting area of research and could be beneficial in the context of physical exercise and overall physical performance.

Antioxidant Icon

Antioxidant Support

Antioxidants are important as they help combat oxidative stress in the body, which is linked to various chronic health conditions. Flavonoids are recognized as having high antioxidant potential, and by helping the body neutralize free radicals, epicatechin can play a role in maintaining cellular health as we age [8].

Does Epicatechin Work?

Plenty of evidence supports that epicatechin positively affects the body, but it's important to set realistic expectations about what it can and can't do.

Unlike strong medications or steroids, epicatechin doesn't cause dramatic changes to the physique quickly. Instead, its benefits build up over time and complement the efforts of a good diet and consistent training.

Epicatechin may help improve muscle function and performance in sports or exercise. It helps increase blood flow, so your muscles get more oxygen and nutrients when you’re active. This doesn’t make muscles grow like steroids but can help you feel stronger and more energetic during exercise.

In early studies on humans, epicatechin from cocoa has been found to improve muscle structure, especially in those with heart issues, but it's not a treatment for any disease or condition, and in taking epicatechin for 7 days, subjects improved hand grip strength and balanced muscle growth-related proteins favorably [7].

In another study, 20 participants did cycle training for 4 weeks. They took either 100 mg of epicatechin twice daily (totaling 200 mg daily) or a placebo. Researchers took blood and muscle samples before and after the training to check for antioxidant capacity in the blood, mitochondrial protein content in muscles, and myostatin levels.

They found significant improvements in the participants' anaerobic power and capacity (short, intense exercise ability), fatigue resistance, absolute peak oxygen uptake (VO2), and peak power during the test. However, this brief study observed no significant difference in myostatin levels or the enzyme cytochrome C or citrate synthase involved in energy production [8].

Epicatechin for Testosterone: Is it Effective?

Epicatechin isn't found to stimulate testosterone production directly.

While some antioxidants are believed to support testosterone levels, epicatechin primarily helps maintain these levels rather than increase them. It works by indirectly influencing the health of muscle tissues and hormonal balance through its potential antioxidant properties rather than directly impacting testosterone production processes.

It's best to speak with your healthcare provider if you're interested in ways to support your testosterone levels as you age.

Is Epicatechin Safe?

Epicatechin is generally considered safe for most adults. The research suggests no significant adverse effects at typical supplement dosages. However, as with any supplement, there are individual interactions with compounds, especially with health conditions and medications. It's best to consult with a healthcare provider before taking a new supplement long-term.

How Do You Use Epicatechin Supplementation?

2 white capsules on a hand

If you're thinking about adding natural and premium epicatechin supplements to your routine, here's a quick guide on how, when to take them, and how much to take:

Epicatechin Forms

Epicatechin supplements typically come in two main forms: tablets and capsules.

Tablets are solid forms that you swallow or chew with water. They might take longer to break down in your stomach if you swallow them whole, but they are easy to handle and often come in a precise dose.

Capsules usually contain epicatechin powder inside a small, digestible container that releases its contents into the stomach. Typically, capsules contain higher concentrations of epicatechin.

Both forms are effective for delivering epicatechin to your body, so the choice between tablets and capsules often comes down to personal preference.

Epicatechin, like many other flavonoids, is not highly fat-soluble, but it is slightly lipophilic (has an affinity for lipids). This means it can benefit from being taken with food, particularly meals that contain a moderate amount of fat. The presence of fats can help improve their absorption in the digestive tract.

Taking epicatechin with food can also help mitigate any potential stomach discomfort when taking supplements on an empty stomach.

Timing Your Epicatechin

You can take epicatechin before exercising to help increase blood flow and muscle performance or after exercising to help with muscle recovery. There isn't a strict rule, so you can choose what works best for you.

To get the most benefit, take epicatechin at the same time each day. This helps keep a consistent amount in your body.

How Much to Take (Epicatechin Dosage)

The amount of epicatechin you should take can vary, but many people use between 50 and 200 mg daily. Always start with the lower amount to see how your body reacts.

It’s common to find 100 mg doses of epicatechin supplements. 

There are supplements with 500 mg per serving, with instructions to take up to two per day. These are intended for those with prior experience with epicatechin and looking for something stronger to support their targeted health goals.

The Takeaway: What Is Epicatechin?

A Neurogan Health Epicatechin Bottle with women doing yoga on the background

Epicatechin is a promising natural compound closely associated with cocoa's health benefits, particularly in muscle health and cardiovascular support.

While it doesn't promise to drastically change muscle growth like hormonal steroids, epicatechin as a dietary supplement can be a valuable addition to a well-rounded routine to improve long-term health outcomes.

It's important to look for epicatechin supplements from reputable brands that sustainably source the raw materials and provide thorough third-party lab testing to verify they are free from harmful contaminants. As with any dietary supplement, it's always a good idea to first speak with your healthcare provider for more personalized guidance on safety and to maximize its potential for reaching your wellness goals. 


  1. Schewe, T., & Sies, H. (2009). Epicatechin and its role in protection of LDL and of vascular endothelium. In Beer in health and disease prevention (pp. 803-813). Academic Press.
  2. Katz, D. L., Doughty, K., & Ali, A. (2011). Cocoa and chocolate in human health and disease. Antioxidants & redox signaling, 15(10), 2779-2811.
  3. Schroeter, H., Heiss, C., Balzer, J., Kleinbongard, P., Keen, C. L., Hollenberg, N. K., ... & Kelm, M. (2006). (–)-Epicatechin mediates beneficial effects of flavanol-rich cocoa on vascular function in humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103(4), 1024-1029.
  4. Jiménez, R., Duarte, J., & Perez-Vizcaino, F. (2012). Epicatechin: endothelial function and blood pressure. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry, 60(36), 8823-8830.
  5. Brossette, T., Hundsdörfer, C., Kröncke, K. D., Sies, H., & Stahl, W. (2011). Direct evidence that (−)-epicatechin increases nitric oxide levels in human endothelial cells. European journal of nutrition, 50, 595-599.
  6. McDonald, C. M., Ramirez‐Sanchez, I., Oskarsson, B., Joyce, N., Aguilar, C., Nicorici, A., ... & Henricson, E. K. (2021). (−)‐Epicatechin induces mitochondrial biogenesis and markers of muscle regeneration in adults with Becker muscular dystrophy. Muscle & Nerve, 63(2), 239-249.
  7. Gutierrez-Salmean, G., Ciaraldi, T. P., Nogueira, L., Barboza, J., Taub, P. R., Hogan, M. C., ... & Ramirez-Sanchez, I. (2014). Effects of (−)-epicatechin on molecular modulators of skeletal muscle growth and differentiation. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry, 25(1), 91-94.
  8. Schwarz, N. A., Blahnik, Z. J., Prahadeeswaran, S., McKinley-Barnard, S. K., Holden, S. L., & Waldhelm, A. (2018). (–)-Epicatechin supplementation inhibits aerobic adaptations to cycling exercise in humans. Frontiers in Nutrition, 5, 132.
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Katrina Lubiano

Based in Canada, Katrina is an experienced content writer and editor specializing in health and wellness. With a journalistic approach, she's crafted over 900,000 words on supplements, striving to debunk myths and foster a holistic approach to healthi...