Resveratrol appears to have some valuable anti aging properties.
What Are The Benefits and Side Effects Of Resveratrol?
Resveratrol supplements are everywhere these days, from late night infomercials to full page ads in magazines. Does it live up to all the hype?
The health benefits of red wine have been known to researchers for years now. In countries such as Italy and Spain, where there are higher rates of smoking, there is paradoxically a lower rate of cancer and heart disease in adults of all ages. This paradox, referred to as the French paradox by health researchers, be a result of the effects of a chemical called resveratrol. Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant that is found in red wine, peanuts, pomegranates and a few other red fruits and berries.
Resveratrol is found in the skin of red grapes and since red wine is brewed with the skins, much of this chemical end up in wine. Red table wine contains from three to thirteen milligrams per bottle. White wine contains very small quantities of resveratrol, usually less than one milligram per liter.
Most over - the - counter resveratrol products are made either from grape skin extracts or from Japanese knotweed extract. Resveratrol is available in pill and liquid form, with concentrations of up to one gram or more per dose.
The big question is, does a larger dose of resveratrol equal more health benefits? When resveratrol is taken orally most of it ends up breaking down into other chemicals or passing on through the body. When test subjects were given a 25 milligram dose orally only a trace amount of resveratrol was found in the body an hour later. Tests with higher doses showed more resveratrol in the bloodstream an hour later, but still short of the amount that was shown to have anti aging and anti cancer properties in laboratory animals.
Only when it was administered orally in a proprietary formulation known as SRT-501, made by Sirtis Pharmaceuticals, in doses of between three to five grams, did bloodstream levels of resveratrol reach the level shown to show anti cancer and anti aging properties in mice.
Resveratrol is one of a group of plant derived chemicals called phytoalexins that plants produce when they are under attack by fungus or other diseases. Lycopene, which is produced by tomatoes is another compound with health benefits that is produced by plants to prevent damage.
An in depth study of the benefits of resveratrol was done by the Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, in France. In studies on lab animals resveratrol was found to have significant antioxidant effects at the cellular level and to increase aerobic capacity.
In vitro, or test tube studies have shown resveratrol to destroy certain types of cancer cells. A separate study showed that resveratrol activates the factor called Sirtuin 1 in humans, which may slow the aging process by preventing cell damage.
Current Studies Of Resveratrol Underway
There are several clinical trials of resveratrol being undertaken at private research organizations by several universities around the world. These clinical trials include the effect of resveratrol on diseases like Alzheimer's, heart disease and cancer.
An upcoming study at the Medical College Of Wisconsin will focus on resveratrol's effect on Alzheimer's disease. The study is not yet open to participants but applications are being taken. This long term study of the benefits of resveratrol will be concluded by 2010. Test subjects will be divided in one of two groups, the placebo group and the one given an actual 215 milligram dose of Longivinex resveratrol daily. Subjects will not know which group they were in until the end of the study. Trials of Longivinex will be open to men and women from 50 to 90 years of age.
Possible Side Effects Of Resveratrol
While there seems to be a real benefit to taking resveratrol supplements some researchers have suggested that it may stimulate the growth of breast cancer cells, due resveratrol's chemical nature. Resveratrol can mimic estrogen in the body due to phytoestrogen, or plant based hormones contained in the compound. However, other studies have found that resveratrol actually fights breast cancer by killing breast cancer cells. Another possible effect of the phytoestrogen found in resveratrol may be that it interferes with birth control. You will often find a warning on resveratrol supplements that it should be avoided by nursing mothers and by children under the age of eighteen.
There have been no conclusive studies showing any negative effects of taking resveratrol and some very encouraging studies showing that it may fight free radicals and therefore slow the aging process. For this reason it may be worth adding a dose of resveratrol to your daily vitamin regimen.