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?