Resveratrol and Energy Production
We are alive as long as we are making energy. A key to life extension and enhancement of quality of life is thus the ability of our cells to produce energy. Resveratrol is a compound that improves energy production of the mitochondria of the cells.
It is a polyphenol antioxidant found in high concentrations in the skins/peels of grapes and berries and is also found in dark chocolate and peanuts. It is actually a protective fungicide produced by plants. Since it is produced by grapes, resveratrol is found in wines and may explain the French Paradox.
How Does Resveratrol Work?
It’s been known since 2003 that resveratrol activates sirtuin genes. Sirtuin genes produce proteins that enable the body to work more efficiently and that includes increasing the activity of mitochondria to produce energy. Mitochondria are the power producing organelles within our cells.
The biologic effects of resveratrol mimic the physiologic changes that occur in the body in response to calorie restriction. Calorie restriction has consistently been shown to improve life span in every species studied to date. During calorie restriction the body must use its resources more efficiently and that’s basically what resveratrol does when it activates sirtuin genes.
Because it is an antioxidant this sirtuin gene activator protects against free radicals. It also has anti-inflammatory properties potentially making it beneficial in the treatment of inflammatory based diseases. It provides health benefits through a variety of mechanisms of action listed below.
Mechanisms of Action
1. Modulates cell proliferation and apoptosis
2. Modulates angiogenesis
3. Inhibits metastasis
4. Modulates oxidative stress
5. Suppresses fat accumulation
6. Stimulates bone growth
7. Stimulates mitochondrial activity (energy)
8. Suppresses inflammation
9. Modulates DNA damage
10 Humans – improved reaction time, verbal memory, VO2 max
The Future Research
David Sinclair, PhD whose research team was instrumental in identifying resveratrol and elucidating how it works believes that more potent resveratrol like molecules will be engineered that will more specifically trigger the beneficial effects of resveratrol. This may allow for improved treatments for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and mental decline. In fact, such compounds are already being developed and tested.
In recent laboratory studies it has been shown to make prostate cancer cells more susceptible to radiation therapy and seems to protect against noise induced hearing loss in rats.
For more information on the lastest science go to What is New for an Old Molecule? Systematic Review and Recommendations on the Use of Resveratrol
Today resveratrol supplements are readily available over the counter. No serious side effects have been seen in doses up to 5,000 mg a day outside some nausea. The ideal dose for health benefits remains unknown but experts researching it generally recommend a daily dose of 500 mg to a 1,000 mg. No human study to date on resveratrol has shown any preventive benefits in healthy individuals. But, most middle-aged Americans are not completely healthy as many are taking at least one prescription medicine for a chronic medical condition and given the biologic effects of resveratrol may benefit from its supplementation.