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The Smart Guide to the Health Benefits of Resveratrol

The Smart Guide to the Health Benefits of Resveratrol

This is the image caption, and it is long you know.

Is There Anything to the Hype?

In the last few months, the buzz surrounding resveratrol, the polyphenol found in grape skins and red wine, has reached a fever pitch.

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Dr. Mehmet Oz, the celebrity doctor often seen on the Oprah Winfrey Show, has been making the rounds of the day-time talk shows to promote resveratrol and its anti-aging properties. CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes devoted an entire segment to resveratrol and its passionate believers who hope to live well into their 100’s through the use of mega-doses of resveratrol.

Not to be outdone, Barbara Walters from ABC News even hosted a prime time special entitled “Live to be 150” which also quite prominently featured resveratrol.

Each of these headline making stories raised awareness (and sales!) of resveratrol. But does the hype match the facts? People are taking doses of resveratrol equal to 100, 300, even 500 glasses of wine! They seem to think that if a little is good, then more must be better. The research seems to indicate a more moderate approach is called for, but let’s look at what we really know about resveratrol and then you can decide if it is right for you.

Caloric restriction prolongs life

It has been well documented that limiting caloric intake while maintaining a normal diet in regards to other nutrients like vitamins and minerals can delay the aging process in laboratory animals.1

How caloric restriction slows aging is unknown. One theory suggests that fewer calories force an optimization of the metabolism. Another theory suggests caloric restriction affects genes that program the aging process.2

Whatever the mechanism, caloric restriction has been repeatedly shown to extend lifespan in laboratory mammals and scientists now know that resveratrol affects many of the same genes that are affected by caloric restriction. Thus, resveratrol has been called a “caloric restriction mimetic.”

For example, after screening thousands of molecules, Harvard researchers found that resveratrol mimics caloric restriction in yeast by activating enzymes that slow aging, increasing the stability of DNA, and extending lifespan by as much as 70%.3

Another Harvard research team found resveratrol improved the health and survival of obese mice. Resveratrol increased insulin levels while decreasing glucose levels, resulting in healthier liver and heart tissue when compared to obese mice that did not receive treatment. “After six months, resveratrol essentially prevented most of the negative effects of the high-calorie diet in mice,” said study co-author Rafael de Cabo of the National Institute of Aging (NIA).4

What’s more, a research study published in 2008 led by researchers from University of Wisconsin, Madison, found that the caloric restriction mimetic effects of resveratrol can be attained with low doses.5 The authors had this to say in their abstract:

“Resveratrol, at doses that can be readily achieved in humans, fulfills the definition of a dietary compound that mimics
some aspects of caloric restriction.”

This last finding is particularly important. The focus for many resveratrol advocates has been on mega-doses. Doses equal to hundreds of glasses of wine. The fact that low doses of resveratrol can mimic caloric restriction brings the compound back into the realm of a dietary supplement, and out of the realm of pharmaceutical experimentation. When it comes to efficacious doses of dietary supplements— particularly ones that are being hyped as much as resveratrol— it is probably better to be safe than sorry.

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Editor's Note:

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These articles are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult with a physician before embarking on a dietary supplement program.

References

  1. Wolf G. Calorie restriction increases life span: a molecular mechanism. Nutr Rev. 2006 Feb;64(2 Pt 1):89-92.

  2. de Magalhaes, J. P., and Church, G. M. (2005). "Genomes optimize reproduction: aging as a consequence of the developmental program."Physiology (Bethesda) 20:252-259. 

  3. Wood JG, Rogina B, Lavu S, Howitz K, Helfand SL, Tatar M, Sinclair D. Sirtuin activators mimic caloric restriction and delay ageing in metazoans. Nature. 2004 Aug 5;430(7000):686-9. Epub 2004 Jul 14.

  4. Baur JA, et al Resveratrol improves health and survival of mice on a high-calorie diet. Nature. 2006 Nov 16;444(7117):337-42. Epub 2006 Nov 1. 

  5. Barger JL, Kayo T, Vann JM, Arias EB, Wang J, et al. (2008) A Low Dose of Dietary Resveratrol Partially Mimics Caloric Restriction and Retards Aging Parameters in Mice. PLoS ONE 3(6): e2264. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002264.

  6. Wang Z, Zou J, Cao K, Hsieh TC, Huang Y, Wu JM. Dealcoholized red wine containing known amounts of resveratrol suppresses atherosclerosis in hypercholesterolemic rabbits without affecting plasma lipid levels. Int J Mol Med. 2005 Oct;16(4):533-40. 

  7. Shen M, Jia GL, Wang YM, Ma H. Cardioprotective effect of resvaratrol pretreatment on myocardial ischemia-reperfusion induced injury in rats. Vascul Pharmacol. 2006 Aug;45(2):122-6. Epub 2006 Jun 12. 

  8. Haider, U.G. et al. Resveratrol increases serine 15-phosphory¬lated but transcriptionally impaired p53 and induces a reversible DNA replication block in serum-activated vascular smooth muscle cells.Mol. Pharmacol. 200;363:925-32. 

  9. Zbikowska, H.M. et al. Antioxidants with carcinostatic activity (resveratrol, vitamin E and selenium) in modulation of blood platelet adhesion. J. Physiol. Pharmacol. 2000;51:513-20. 

  10. Novakovic A, Bukarica LG, Kanjuh V, Heinle H. Potassium channels-mediated vasorelaxation of rat aorta induced by resvera trol.Basic Clin Pharmacol Toxicol. 2006 Nov;99(5):360-4.

  11. Delmas D, Lancon A, Colin D, Jannin B, Latruffe N. Resveratrol as a chemopreventive agent: a promising molecule for fighting cancer.Curr Drug Targets. 2006 Apr ;7:423-42. 

  12. Jubilee R. Stewart and Catherine A. O'Brian Resveratrol antagonizes EGFR-dependent Erk1/2 activation in human androgen-independent prostate cancer cells with associated isozyme-selective PKC alpha inhibition. Invest New Drug, 2004;22(2):107-117. 

  13. Jang M, Cai L, Udeani GO, Slowing KV, Thomas CF, Bleecher CWW, Fong HHS, Farnsworth NR, Kinghorn AD, Mehta RG, Moon RC, Pezzuto JM. 1997. Cancer chemopreventive activ¬ity of resveratrol, a natural product derived from grapes. Sci275(5297):218–20. 

  14. Murray GI, Taylor MC, McFadyen MC, Mckay JA, Greenlee WF, Burke MD, Melvin MF. 1997. Tumor-specific expression of cytochrome P450 CYP1B1. Cancer Res 57(14):3026–31. 

  15. Aggarwal BB, Bhardwaj A, Aggarwal RS, Seeram NP, Shishodia S, Takada Y. Role of resveratrol in prevention and therapy of cancer: preclinical and clinical studies. Anticancer Res. 2004 Sep-Oct;24(5A):2783-840. 

  16. Banerjee S, Bueso-Ramos C, Aggarwal BB. 2002. Suppression of 7,12-dimethylbenz(a) anthracene-induced mammary carcinogen¬esis in rats by resveratrol: role of nuclear factor-?B, cyclooxygen¬ase 2, and matrix metalloprotease 9. Cancer Res 62(17):4945–54. 

  17. Trincheri NF, Nicotra G, Follo C, Castino R, Isidoro C. Resvera¬trol induces cell death in colorectal cancer cells by a novel pathway involving lysosomal cathepsin D. Carcinogenesis. 2006 Nov 20. 

  18. Jang M, et al. Cancer chemopreventive activity of resveratrol, a natural product derived from grapes. Science 1997;275(5297):218-20. 

  19. Subbaramaiah K, et al. Resveratrol inhibits cyclooxygenase-2 transcription and activity in phorbol ester-treated human mammary epithelial cells. J Biol Chem 1998;273(34):21875-82. 

  20. Elmali N, Baysal O, Harma A, Esenkaya I, Mizrak B. Effects of Resveratrol in Inflammatory Arthritis. Inflammation. 2006 Nov 4. 

  21. Schroecksnadel K, Winkler C, Wirleitner B, Schennach H, Weiss G, Fuchs D. Anti-inflammatory compound resveratrol suppresses homocysteine formation in stimulated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells in vitro. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2005;43(10):1084-8. 

  22. Karuppagounder SS, et al.Dietary supplementation with resveratrol reduces plaque pathology in a transgenic model of Alzheimer's disease. Neurochem Int, 2009 Feb;54(2):111-8. Epub 2008 Nov 8.

  23. Anekonda TS. Resveratrol--a boon for treating Alzheimer’s disease? Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 2006 Sep;52(2):316-26. 

  24. Luo L, Huang YM. [Effect of resveratrol on the cognitive ability of Alzheimeros mice] Zhong Nan Da Xue Xue Bao Yi Xue Ban. 2006 Aug;31(4):566-9. 

  25. Consumer Lab Review Article: Resveratrol, 11/30/06. 

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3 Comments

What about organic? Grapes are a highly pesticide product. Shouldn’t you make sure your resveratrol is from organic sources? This is one issue I have with your products. They do not claim to be from organic sources. If you truly are concerned about health you should only consume organic products when possible.

I prefer using organic products for anti-aging purposes. All other synthetic products are not to be taken into belief for they do have so many side effects and even can put you into a more pathetic state, which I won’t prefer myself.

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