Resveratrol: Sources, Benefits and Side Effects
About resveratrol, the “miracle substance” - extracted mainly from plants with dark fruits, it has been much said in recent years, due to its powerful antioxidant effect.
Few know that the habit of drinking red wine, which is a natural resource of resveratrol, underlies the medical explanation of the “French paradox” that refers to the fact that the French have the healthiest cardiovascular system in the world, although they consume foods rich in fat. This natural compound can be found in red grape skin, peanuts, blueberries and Japanese knotweed. It is a strong antioxidant that is released by the plants to act as a protective shield against environmental stress. As it is already known, antioxidants can neutralize free radicals, which are the number one cause of aging. Of all the plants that contain resveratrol, the Japanese knotweed is the source with the highest content.
Because of the numerous health benefits it features, many pharmaceutical companies have tried to take advantage of this fact by selling resveratrol supplements. Most of the capsules that are sold in the U.S include extracts from the Chinese and Japanese knotweed plant. There are also other resveratrol supplements extracted from red grape skin or red wine.
The Benefits of Taking Resveratrol
It prevents aging - Normally our body can defend itself against bacteria, viruses, and stress. The “longevity protein” or SIRT1 contributes to this action, keeps the DNA and repairs the molecules damaged by the free radicals. However, in time, as the number of free radicals increases and the cellular self-defense capacity decreases, the SIRT1 proteins are required increasingly more to restore the cells, thus neglecting its function of protecting the DNA, which finally leads to accelerating aging. Resveratrol can stimulate the production of the SIRT 1 proteins, which slow down the aging process.
It protects the heart and blood vessels - Through it powerful antioxidant action, resveratrol prevents the hardening and thickening of blood vessels, regulates blood flow and hinders the platelet aggregation.
It protects the brain system - Resveratrol prevents the neuronal cell death and reduces the risk of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Huntington ‘s and Parkinson’s diseases.
Resveratrol stops the spread of cancer cells and supports apoptosis (cancer cell death). People who suffer from insulin resistance, have a decreased sensitivity to the effects of insulin, which is the blood sugar-lowering hormone, which means that they are prone to diabetes. According to recent studies, resveratrol might just be the answer to this problem because it helps prevent insulin resistance.
Since there aren’t enough studies performed on resveratrol on humans, doctors cannot say what kind of side effects these supplements might have on people in the long term. So far, studies haven’t found serious side effects, even if resveratrol is taken in high doses. However, resveratrol supplements could interact with anticoagulants such as warfarin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and ibuprofen, increasing the risk of bleeding.
Because the studies remain uncertain and insufficient, it’s hard for the consumers to know if the product they are buying is really efficient. This also happens because the FDA does not regulate the product. Also, there is no specific dosage recommendation available.