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Resveratrol (or trans-resveratrol) is a natural substance found in many different plants and fruits ranging from Japanese knotweed to red grapes. Resveratrol has received significant attention due to a number of studies alleging its ability to mimic the effects of calorie restriction 1-4. Calorie restriction (CR) is a technique that some evidence suggests may not only assist with weight loss, but also longevity in mammalian species 5-8.
It is believed that resveratrol activates a key gene called SIRT1, a gene which evidence suggests may be responsible for protection against many metabolic-related disorders and age-related diseases caused by weight gain 9-10. SIRT1 belongs to the family of genes called the “sirtuins” which evidence suggests are involved in the regulation of the stress response, apoptosis and telomere lengthening (believed to play a key role in longevity) 11.
In a double blind, placebo controlled clinical trial it was allegedly found that 150mg resveratrol, administered once a day for 30 days, resulted in a significantly lower resting metabolic rate and activation of a number of CR genes when compared to placebo 12. Other studies have also allegedly demonstrated lower resting metabolic rate and cardioprotective effects in both obese and non-obese individuals 13, 14, although interestingly at least one later study was unable to replicate these findings 15.
Besides the research supporting resveratrol’s potential use for longevity and CR mimicking, many other potential benefits of this mysterious natural compound have been examined. Some studies have suggested that resveratrol may contain chemopreventative (cancer preventing) properties 16, 17. A study in mice found resveratrol to allegedly delay and reduce incidence of skin carcinoma when the mice were exposed to harmful chemicals 18, however a more recent study didn’t replicate these findings 19.
Further studies in rodent models allegedly showed that resveratrol may suppress progression of prostate cancer development and incidence 20, 21, lung cancer development and incidence 22, 23, along with colon, liver and other cancers development and incidence 24, 25. Unfortunately though, all of these findings regarding chemoprevention were made in rodent models (rats and mice), and therefore the results cannot be transferred into humans until further research is conducted.
In a study involving 22 healthy human volunteers, resveratrol was supplemented in rotating amounts of 250mg and 500mg along with a placebo pill. Difficult mental tasks were then presented to the volunteers. It was found that when the volunteers consumed either amount of resveratrol, increased blood flow occurred within their frontal cortex whilst undergoing the difficult mental tasks, indicating resveratrol may have properties associated with increased mental performance 26. Other studies have allegedly found resveratrol may possess both antioxidant and neural anti-inflammatory activity 27-29.
Whilst the literature surrounding resveratrol is quite vast, many of the reported studies have failed replication. Nevertheless, resveratrol does seem to potentially possess quite a few different health benefits, and due to it being reportedly well tolerated within most individuals, may be worth considering as a supplement in one’s diet.
The above statements refer to the supplement/drug used within the cited research. Individual results and effectiveness of this supplement may vary. Always consult your physician before beginning supplementation.
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