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Resveratrol is a stilbene, a polyphenolic compound made by grapes... Learn more.
1. What is Resveratrol and where does it come from?
Resveratrol is a stilbene, a polyphenolic compound made by grapes, peanuts, Japanese knotweed, and certain other plants as a natural defense against bacteria and fungi.
Many scientists, long puzzled by the resistance many Frenchmen have to heart disease despite their typically high-fat diets, began to wonder if the large amounts of resveratrol found in organic (but not conventional) red wine might hold an answer to the so-called “French Paradox.”
What they found upon closer examination of resveratrol has surprised and intrigued many people.
2. What does Resveratrol do and what scientific studies give evidence to support this?
One possible benefit is that resveratrol seems to decrease platelet aggregation. That is, it keeps blood cells from sticking together so that they are therefore less likely to form clots. Resveratrol also appears to enhance blood flow and to promote arterial relaxation by boosting the body’s supply of nitric oxide, the same substance that is increased by the drug Viagra.
Further, resveratrol is a potent antioxidant that in some respects outperforms even vitamin E, as well as reinforces the action of vitamin D. Researchers note that resveratrol induces apoptosis, or cell death. Although that sounds bad, apoptosis is one of the body’s major defenses against the formation of cancer cells.
They also point to resveratrol’s ability to block all three stages of carcinogenesis, and also have observed that resveratrol inhibits the cytochrome P450 enzyme, and reduces inflammation; both actions are potential anti-cancer effects.
In November 2006 resveratrol made the pages of the New York Times when large doses of it were shown to double the endurance of laboratory mice. The scientists of conducted the study believe that resveratrol increases the number of mitochondria, energy-producing structures present in the cells of all living things. Other studies raise the possibility of antiviral effects of resveratrol against both HIV and influenza.
There’s more. In recent years scientists have observed that resveratrol seems to activate certain genes called sirtuins that are associated with greatly increased longevity in yeast, fruit flies, fish, and mice. Essentially, resveratrol “tricks” the sirtuin genes into switching themselves on.
When given resveratrol in their food, these laboratory organisms have experienced increases of 15% to 70% in their maximum life span. No other nutrient or drug has ever been shown to boost maximum life span.
Interestingly, primates—including human beings—also carry these longevity-linked sirtuin genes, and researchers wonder if resveratrol might hold similar life-extending benefits for us. Considerable work is now being done in this area, much of it at Harvard Medical School. Although these studies will take a very long time to complete, at least one of the Harvard researchers, David Sinclair, admits to currently taking resveratrol himself.
3. Who needs Resveratrol and how much should be taken? Are there any side effects or symptoms of deficiency?
Resveratrol is a very natural, healthy product and would benefit anybody that took it. Nobody knows for sure, but since resveratrol metabolizes very quickly, some scientists suggest taking it several times a day.
Possible dosages range from a few dozen to a few hundred milligrams. To put these amounts in perspective, know that a glass or organic red wine contains around two milligrams of resveratrol.
Again, scientists simply don’t know for sure, at least not yet. But nobody has shown that resveratrol is toxic, either. Massive doses of 300 milligrams per kilo of body weight for four weeks don’t appear to hurt rats. A 200-pound man would have to take over 27,000 milligrams a day to get an equivalent amount of resveratrol.