March 8, 2011

050 Resveratrol [15 February 2010]

Resveratrol is a new natural health product that has been in the news recently, and is now available as a nutritional supplement.

Resveratrol is a polyphenol found in the skins and seeds of many fruits and berries, including grapes, and occurs in small amounts in red wine. This may at least partly explain the French Paradox – that people in France have healthy cardiovascular systems despite eating an unhealthy diet, smoking, and drinking.

Studies have so far found an amazing variety of benefits. Resveratrol:
• is a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals including the dangerous ROS (reactive oxygen species) from tobacco smoke;
• lowers the risk of many types of cancer including liver, breast, prostate & colon;
• has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that help protect the heart, liver and brain;
• helps control blood sugar and prevent obesity;
• improves prostate health, increasing urine flow;
• lowers blood pressure and increases cardiovascular health;
• improves cholesterol by lowering LDL and increasing HDL blood lipids;
• increases energy and speeds recovery from exertion;
• appears to have anti-aging properties – animal studies show increased life-spans of 15% to 60%.

Resveratrol can be increased in your diet by consuming more grape skins and seeds, certain berries and fruits, and by drinking more red wine. To get enough for a therapeutic dose however will be a problem. Different sources suggested 20mg, 50 mg, and 100-500 mg as being optimal for different benefits. Even the lower dose would require drinking several bottles of wine daily, which would be detrimental for its alcohol, sugar and calories. And fruits and berries are high in sugar so should be eaten in moderation. Thus the best source of resveratrol is in a supplement form, commonly extracted from grape skins & seeds or from Japanese Knotweed.

One caution – some of the above benefits are known only from animal studies and not yet proven in humans. Several human trials are underway and there should be more information available in the coming years. So far no negative side effects have been observed at normal doses although several temporary side effects were noted at doses over 500 mg.

So, is resveratrol another passing fad or a modern “fountain of youth”? Time will tell, but meanwhile there’s no good reason not to experience some of the benefits for yourself.

This article is intended for educational purposes only; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

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