Update: 7/7/21. Resveratrol, a chemical found in red grapes, other foods, and red wine, is a hot topic these days because of claims that it might help not only ward off heart disease, cancer, and diabetes but also help us live longer as well! But do you need to supplement with resveratrol? It's a good question to ask considering how much this stuff is being touted as “the fountain of youth”.
Just for fun, I Googled the word “resveratrol” and discovered that it returned over 4 million hits! Many of these are from websites and “experts” claiming that resveratrol helps you live longer. I've heard “Dr. Oz” talking and Oprah talk about it and even the venerated TV news show, 60 Minutes did a segment on pharmaceutical companies that are working to develop a drug to mimic the effects of resveratrol. Pretty impressive huh?
However, as an investigator of supplements for over 10 years, I've always been skeptical of the amazing claims being made by makers of some resveratrol supplements. I always felt that people were jumping the gun, trying to advertise products to the public before all the facts were in.
If you have been thinking about taking resveratrol supplements, keep reading as I will tell you about a study that you are unlikely to see mentioned on websites and infomercials that extol the virtues of their resveratrol supplements.
The study was published in the June 2009 issue of the peer-reviewed journal, Cell Cycle. Basically, the researchers wanted to see if resveratrol could inhibit a protein called “mTOR” that helps regulate cell growth and cell survival. In a nutshell, the researchers found that resveratrol was able to “partially” prevent the age-related loss of the cell's ability to reproduce itself. Partially or not, that's pretty good news because it means resveratrol may have some anti-aging properties, however, here is what you may not hear:
The amount of resveratrol needed to help the cells along was, in the words of the researchers, “near toxic” levels!
Putting it another way, if this study is corroborated, it means that even if resveratrol can help slow some aspects of the aging process, to reap the benefits, one would have to consume resveratrol at levels that would almost be harmful to humans!
Even in the 60 Minutes interview, researchers make it a point to say that people would have to drink about 1000 glasses of red wine a day to get the resveratrol used in laboratory studies.
In another study, researchers noted people taking 500 mg to 1000 of resveratrol showed less brain shrinkage compared to those taking a placebo. That's interesting but the real test would be to see if the supplement improves people's memory. In another investigation, researchers gave 500 mg of resveratrol to people with type II diabetes. While the nutrient raised HDL good cholesterol and activated anti-aging genes called sirtuins, it did not reduce inflammation. Cellular inflammation is thought to play a role in aging. Some researchers believe this so much they actually call it “inflamm-aging.”
Anti-aging is very big these days and no more so than when it comes to wrinkles. Many anti-wrinkle creams are on the market. Many of these contain resveratrol. One product that does not is Stem Cell Therapy cream so read my review on that if you saw its TV commercial.
Resveratrol vs. Pterostilbene
Pterostilbene is sometimes touted as the “new resveratrol.” This plant nutrient polyphenol is found in foods like blueberries, peanuts as well as red grapes,s, and red wine. It's said to be better absorbed and for this reason, it's incorporated into various anti-aging supplements. Some research suggests pterostilbene may help memory and fight aging but it's too soon to know if this is true in humans. Studies comparing what's better resveratrol or pterostilbene are lacking.
What Do I Suggest?
Until more is known I suggest getting your resveratrol from foods like blueberries. Here is the smoothie recipe I make with blueberries to get you started.
Other Anti-Aging Supplements
See these other reviews for more insights
Do You Need Resveratrol?
If you are supplementing with resveratrol or thinking about it, I suggest you save your money for now. Yes, the research is very interesting and yes, a lot of pharmaceutical companies are salivating at the idea of making a drug that we would take regularly (like a vitamin) that would help us stay healthy and live longer.
For the moment, however, there is still no magic bullet to staying healthy and living longer. You have to work at it. That involves eating fewer calories, not smoking, and yes, getting a little exercise each day. On that point, I'm sure Dr. Oz and all the other experts out there would agree with me. For those who are still curious, here is Resveratrol on Amazon.
What do you think?
Wondering if there have been any more recent studies that indicate resveratrol does, in fact, have health benefits as a supplement?
Victoria, there has been many studies on resveratrol. I’m not convinced if any of them can tell us the correct amount to use or whether one brand stands out over others. I think being overall healthy -eating more fruits /veggies and regular exercise – is better for anti-aging effects than only taking resveratrol.
Captain Obvious! says
This seems a poor basis to conclude ANYTHING about its use as a supplement. I consider this reporting, disappointing. Just because it takes near toxic levels to affect the production of mTOR, does not mean that that has any bearing whatsoever on whatever other anti-aging properties it might have.
The 60 Minutes segment was called “Wine RX”. It showed mice being given resveratrol, and they were less obese, and their hair was healthier. The researchers concluded that the effects were similar to those obtained via caloric restriction. It appears to be the active ingredient in heart-healthy red wines. Why are you hiding this?
Captain Obvious, I hid nothing and If you’ve read my other reviews you’d know this is true. Most of the anti-aging research on resveratrol is in mice. We are not mice. I’m not aware of any human anti-aging effects. Based on the studies I’ve seen I don’t feel at this time that resveratrol supplements are needed by people. Glass of wine a day, I have no problem with but as for supplements, I recommend people save their money at this time. I think they are over hyped. For what its worth, I hope I am wrong and you are right. Let’s let the human research decide.
Charles, sorry if you were annoyed but I checked and my post didn’t stop abruptly. It was a fairly short review of a study I thought was interesting.
Shaunna Lowey says
I’m 45 years old and have been a smoker for 20 years. I have been using both a serum that contains stem cell and reservatrol and have seen amazing results – I look younger and feel better. I believe that just because you can’t find “proof” that something works doesn’t mean it doesn’t. So I went ahead and tried it … And it did for me. So don’t know what to say other than – check out my pics on Facebook and be the judge yourself. Or do what i did and try it – but don’t knock it before you try it lol
Shaunna, I know you’ve heard this before but I’m going to say it: Please stop smoking. I’m saying this as a person who lost both my mom and dad from smoking-related cancers. They died less than 3 months from each other.
You sound like a very nice person and I am glad you look good on the outside. You will look even better on the outside – and inside, if you did this. Please consider it.
charles gattas says
How the hell does one continue the report that just stops abruptly??? Damn ANNOYING!!!!!
Dave DePew says
Great article Joe!