Dear Health-conscious Friend,
To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of resveratrol’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
You may have read one of the many sensational headlines that a recent study “proved” resveratrol doesn’t work. But, as usual, the media favored scary headlines over accuracy.
In this case, though, we should give the media a pass. Because the study’s authors themselves decided – by comparing apples to oranges – that resveratrol has no real benefits.
Here’s the study behind all the headlines…
Doctors followed less than 800 Italians over age 65 living in two small villages. According to the authors, the villagers had a diet “rich in resveratrol.” They measured the resveratrol in their volunteers’ urine over 24 hours and then watched for 9 years to see who developed heart problems and who died.
In this group, resveratrol levels didn’t seem to make any difference for the risk of heart trouble or death from any cause.1 So the authors declared resveratrol doesn’t work. End of story.
But is it? Could there be one or two tiny flaws in the researchers’ logic?
Many studies – test tube, animal, and human – have shown the anti-aging benefits of resveratrol. But there’s a huge difference here. Because a diet “rich in resveratrol” actually means very little.
Red wine – the richest source of dietary resveratrol – may contain as little as one-third of a milligram of resveratrol per glass. You’d have to drink 300 glasses of red wine to get the amount of resveratrol found in some nutritional supplements!
The truth is, a diet “rich in resveratrol” is relative. Most people get almost no resveratrol in their diet. An Italian villager drinking 3 glasses of red wine a day would get barely 1 mg. The only other food source that even comes close is boiled peanuts. And I doubt the elders of a tiny Italian village were eating boiled peanuts by the pound.
In fact, a 2012 study showed that resveratrol has a clear effect on a particular gene – SIRT1, also known as the “longevity gene.” In this study, animals taking a moderate dose of resveratrol showed enhanced mitochondrial activity.2
This is important because mitochondria are your cells’ “energy factories.” The more active they are, the younger your cells act.
But “moderate” doses means far more resveratrol than you can get in your diet.
And now there’s another good reason to take this powerful anti-aging supplement.
German scientists gave resveratrol to a group of overweight adults for 26 weeks. A second group took a look-alike placebo. The doctors tested their volunteers’ memory power both before and after the 26 weeks.
Memory improved in the volunteers who took resveratrol. But not in the placebo group. The resveratrol group also showed more connections in their brains’ memory center – showing this was no fluke.3
Plus, the resveratrol group got an extra benefit. Their sugar metabolism improved.
So what did the study of Italian villagers really prove? As far as I can tell, not much. Except that the full benefits of resveratrol may only be available by taking nutritional supplements.
Yours in continued good health,
Dr kenneth Woliner, M.D.
1 “Diets Rich in Antioxidant Resveratrol Fail to Reduce Deaths, Heart Disease or Cancer,” Johns Hopkins Medicine. May 12, 2014.
2 Price, N.L., et al, “SIRT1 is required for AMPK activation and the beneficial effects of resveratrol on mitochondrial function,” Cell Metab. May 2, 2012; 15(5): 675-690.
3 Witte, A.V., et al, “Effects of Resveratrol on Memory Performance, Hippocampal Functional Connectivity, and Glucose Metabolism in Healthy Older Adults,” The Journal of Neuroscience, Jun 4. 2014, 34(23).