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Does Resveratrol Really Work to Prevent Aging and Alzheimer's?
Scientists have known about the health benefits of red wine for years. Countries like France and Italy, which have higher rates of smoking and also high fat diets also have lower rates of cancer. This may be a result of the effects of resveratrol, a powerful antioxidant found in red wine, pomegranates and a few other red fruits and berries.
Resveratrol is highly concentrated in the skin of red grapes. Most resveratrol products are made from concentrated extract of grape skins and from a plant called Japanese knotweed. There are commercially available standardized extracts in both pill and liquid form which guarantee a certain concentration of resveratrol in milligrams in each dose.
The question is, does a higher oral dose equal more benefits? About 70% of the resveratrol dose given orally as a pill is absorbed, however, oral bioavailability of resveratrol is low because it is rapidly metabolized in intestines and liver into conjugated forms: glucuronate and sulfonate.
Only trace amounts of unchanged resveratrol could be detected in the blood later, after a 25 mg oral dose. When a very large dose of resveratrol, between 2.5 and 5 grams was given in the form of an uncoated pill, the concentration of resveratrol in blood still failed to reach the level necessary for the benefits of lab animal studies to be seen. It has been found that resveratrol administered orally in a proprietary formulation SRT-501 of between three and five grams, which was developed by Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, reached up to eight times higher of resveratrol found in the bloodstream later. At this level scientists would expect to see the same anti cancer and anti aging benefits as seen in lab animals and test tube studies.
Resveratrol is one of a group of compounds called phytoalexins which grapes and other plants produce when they are under attack from fungi and other pathogens.
Resveratrol Studies Done So Far
One of the few completed resveratrol studies done so far was done by the Institut de Génétique et de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire, in France. In the study resveratrol was found to have significant antioxidant effects at the cellular level and to promote aerobic capacity in mice.
Below is a summary of the study.
"Diminished mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation and aerobic capacity are associated with reduced longevity. We tested whether resveratrol (RSV), which is known to extend lifespan, impacts mitochondrial function and metabolic homeostasis. Treatment of mice with RSV significantly increased their aerobic capacity, as evidenced by their increased running time and consumption of oxygen in muscle fibers. RSV's effects were associated with an induction of genes for oxidative phosphorylation and mitochondrial biogenesis and were largely explained by an RSV-mediated decrease in PGC-1alpha acetylation and an increase in PGC-1alpha activity. This mechanism is consistent with RSV being a known activator of the protein deacetylase, SIRT1, and by the lack of effect of RSV in SIRT1(-/-) MEFs. Importantly, RSV treatment protected mice against diet-induced-obesity and insulin resistance. These pharmacological effects of RSV combined with the association of three Sirt1 SNPs and energy homeostasis in Finnish subjects implicates SIRT1 as a key regulator of energy and metabolic homeostasis."
Other studies have shown that resveratrol activates the factor called Sirtuin 1 in humans, which may promote longevity.
Clinical Trials Of Resveratrol Underway
There are currently a number of clinical trials of resveratrol underway by private research organizations, universities and major drug companies. These clinical trials include the effect of the compound on Alzheimer's and cancer.
One from the Medical College Of Wisconsin focuses on the effects of resveratrol on Alzheimer's disease. It is not yet open to participants. It will be concluded in the year 2010. Participants will be in one of two groups, the placebo group and the one given an actual 215 milligram dose of Longivinex resveratrol daily. The study will be open to men and women from 50 to 90 years of age.
Negative Effects Of Resveratrol
The health benefits of resveratrol seem very promising however one study has theorized that it may stimulate the growth of human breast cancer cells, possibly because of resveratrol's chemical structure, which is similar to a plant compound called phytoestrogen. On the other hand other studies have found that resveratrol actually fights breast cancer by killing breast cancer cells. Because of the presence of phytoestrogens some makers of resveratrol advise that the compound may interfere with birth control pills and that women who are pregnant or intending to become pregnant should refrain from using the product. Some have advised that resveratrol should not be taken by children or young adults under eighteen. This is mostly as a precaution since no studies have shown how it affects their natural development.
A small study found that a single dose of up to 5 g of trans-resveratrol caused no serious adverse effects in healthy volunteers. More research is needed to determine if there are any unknown side effects on non healthy adults including those with cancer or Alzheimer's disease.
Conclusion of Resveratrol's Benefits
While the jury is still out over the full benefits of resveratrol, including anti cancer and anti Alzheimer's effects, there are enough studies to warrant taking oral resveratrol supplements as part of a daily anti aging regimen. Resveratrol supplements can be found in most major drug stores and health food stores.
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