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Resveratrol, what is it, benefits, supplement sources and more.

What is Resveratrol?

Found in peanuts, berries, chocolate, and in the skins of red grapes (such as those used in wine), Resveratrol is an all-natural plant material that is part of the group of compounds called polyphenols.

These compounds have long known to work as antioxidants, protecting cells from damage and preventing some disease. They are also considered a good treatment for inflammation and as anti-aging compounds.

The key to successful use of compounds like Resveratrol, for many scientists, is how the body absorbs the polyphenols taken in through food. Certain polyphenols are very "bioavailable" but may excrete rapidly through the body. And knowing how much of any specific food to use in order to get adequate supplies is very challenging. Thus, supplementation is considered a very reliable method of providing the body with them, and Resveratrol is one such supplement.

The Many Benefits of Resveratrol

Before looking at proper Resveratrol supplementation, let's take a bit of time to understand the actual benefits that this compound is known to provide.

  • Anti-Aging - A recent article in the "Los Angeles Times" explained that scientists had been trying for many years to recreate the behaviors of Resveratrol in order to apply its cellular repair capabilities towards fighting other health problems. This emphasizes the simple fact that Resveratrol is known to rejuvenate cells and really reduces the signs (and many symptoms) of the aging process.
  • Disease Fighter - The effects of obesity, some types of cancer, diabetes, and more...Resveratrol has been scientifically documented as a natural defense against many major diseases. For example, in lab studies, it is known to prevent occurrences of insulin resistance (which is often the first stages of the development of Diabetes). It has been used in lab studies to test its effectiveness against the spread of nerve damage done in Alzheimer's, and has also been shown to cause "apoptosis" or the death of cancer cells.
  • Anti-Inflammatory - In the battle against heart disease, Resveratrol is a remarkable weapon. It is known to reduce inflammation of the tissue as well as helping combat oxidation of LDL - meaning that blood clotting is reduced. Additionally, some studies have shown that the presence of Resveratrol in the body will reduce activity in two of the dominant inflammatory molecules of the body. This results in the body having a strong anti-inflammatory response and capability.

Of course, as already indicated, it does boil down to the bioavailability of the compound. In the past, it has been documented that the material is bioavailable, but also breaks down rapidly in the body and is quickly excreted. This has made it difficult to gauge the proper dosage for specific functions. However, a recent study done by the University of Leicester (Jan. 2013) demonstrated that the molecular processes of Resveratrol intake will first break down the compound, but then bring them back together within the cells.

Thus, the once believed poor-bioavailability has now been shown to be far more effective than known. The research demonstrates that Resveratrol is actually absorbed well into the blood plasma, and at rates that are higher than previously considered.

Resveratrol and Skin

Though many love the idea of the cellular level protection that can be provided through supplementation with Resveratrol, it has to also be viewed in terms of its benefits as a product that will create youthful skin. Currently, there are many dermatological studies being done with the use of "topical" Resveratrol, and the findings are impressive.

One study revealed that the capabilities of the formula were able to deliver a "17-fold" improvement in protection against the damages of cellular oxidation when compared to other products or methods.

It is believed that the defensive mechanism that Resveratrol provides to plants in nature is what will help it to protect and improve skin. Because it is also an antimicrobial compound, it will add additional benefits that can include UV protection, elimination of skin responses to stress, and even against minor infection.
Further studies are needed, but one study did prove that Resveratrol was more effective in protecting and enhancing the appearance of skin than combination products using the typical vitamin C and E combination. In fact, this study showed that it was around 95% effective while the vitamin C and E formula delivered 65% or less.

The most effective formulations for skin protection are those that are based on the polyphenols found in various tea plants. In particular it is believed that green, white, and black tea or the herb known as Aspalathus linearis are the best for delivering the compound into the skin through various pathways.

This means that the use of Resveratrol can be orally as a supplement for health, through diet, and topically as a skin improving and protecting agent.

Where Can You Find Resveratrol

There are two ways of obtaining stores of Resveratrol for human consumption, and they include: in certain foods and in supplements.

Food Sources

The food sources include:

  • Skin, seeds, and remains (pomace) of red skinned grapes;
  • Blueberries;
  • Red grapes;
  • Peanuts and peanut butter;
  • Cocoa powder;
  • Dark chocolate; and
  • Mulberries.

"Wait," you might say, "I read that it is found in red wine." You would be correct. The skin, seeds, and pomace of red skinned grapes are indeed what are used to make red wine. The many news stories touting the anti-aging and anti-disease compounds in red wine are a bit on the inaccurate side, however. This is because you will most definitely find Resveratrol in wine, but you would have to consume roughly a liter or more each day to get the suggested serving of the compound.
So, skip the wine and go for food sources of Resveratrol as often as you can. Of course, that might lead you to ask about the recommended dosages for the best results. We'll get back to that after we consider supplementation. For now, you should know that one cup servings of most of the foods listed above will yield roughly .15 to 1.5mg of Reserveratrol.

Supplemental Sources

Because you would have to eat large quantities of food to get adequate amounts of Resveratrol naturally, most people opt for supplements. These are found as capsules, tablets, and even as liquid extracts. The thing to keep in mind is that they are not all identical or of the same quality. Additionally, there are still some questions about the bioavailability of the material, and a large dose in a supplemental form may be less absorbed than say the amount available by consuming a certain amount of a food source over the course of a day.

For now, supplements, it would seem, are likely to be a better method of accessing the Resveratrol compound, but only if they are consumed a few times daily. However, this has to take into consideration the source from which the supplement is made. Currently, the best source is the Japanese Knotweed plant, though many people are also purchasing supplements crafted from grape seed extract.

The supplemental sources of Resveratrol may also be more bioavailable when they are consumed in a "lozenge" form. This is because new studies have revealed that buccal delivery (consumption that does not involve swallowing the compound) is the most direct and effective method of obtaining Resveratrol. Consider that one study determined that a single milligram of the compound, in a 50ml solution could be held in the mouth for one full minute and that around 37 ng/ml of the compound had entered the blood plasma a little more than two minutes later. A single 25mg pill at the same measure provided only trace amounts.

What is so interesting about these different sources is that one is viewed as an optimal chemopreventative. This means that it can fight aging and disease but also help someone combatting cancer too.

Grape Seed and Resveratrol

Grape seed extract has long been associated with prevention and preventative measures. It is frequently used by those hoping to combat free radicals, and that means it is wonderful when fighting diabetes, cancer, or even heart disease.

It has proven itself to be such a therapeutic and reliable formula that groups like the University of Maryland Medical Center recommend specific dosages for those seeking protection from free radical damages. They suggest that at least 25mg to 150mg be consumed each day.

Of course, there are conflicting theories about dosages, and Huntington College of Health Sciences says that the recommended dose is around 40mg per day. This naturally would mean that you have to consider the direct application of the dosage and what the purpose might be. Only then could the appropriate dose be determined.

Japanese Knotweed

The other source for pharmacological or supplemental Resveratrol is Japanese Knotweed Plant. This actually considered the most potent form of the compound, and is the reason that many manufacturers use a 50% solution in their supplements.

In general, Resveratrol supplements will vary in their purity or content, and some will use the standard 50% while others go as high as 99% Resveratrol content.  Additionally, the consumer has to make sure that they understand the differences in purity by the weight of the supplement purchased. This is important because at some levels, the compound can have mild laxative effects and this is something that many consumers are unaware of.

Various Plants and Teas

As already mentioned, Resveratrol is found in many kinds of tea. They include:

  • White tea - this is going to require the use of dried tea made from the youngest leaves and buds of the plant. This is considered one of the highest source concentrations of polyphenols.
  • Black tea - this has another radically active level of the desired compounds, and this is because it is dried and gets optimal oxidization of its polyphenols as well.
  • Red tea - this one has a very high capability, but it is a different group of plants known as the Camelia sinensis. Thus, it is not actually tea and is limited in its availability. While it is being explored as a wonderful source of polyphenols and Resveratrol, it is also a wildly popular remedy for everything from colic and more.
  • Rooibos herb - also known as chrysoeriol, this plant has high anti-inflammatory compounds as well as polyphenols and is great for repair as well as protection.

Obviously, this tells us that there are so many ways of obtaining Resveratrol, and that any of them can help the body to heal, fight aging, and so much more.

Simple Ways of Boosting Resveratrol in the Body

All of this leaves the consumer with the question of how to get the most Resveratrol safely into the diet. The answers include:

  • Combine dark chocolate and blueberries as the ultimate dessert or snack;
  • Add frozen red grapes to a red wine spritzer;
  • Make your own homemade candies using dark chocolate and organic peanut butter;
  • Combine supplements with any of the varieties of tea for synergistic functions; and
  • Head to the local health food store to find dried mulberries, blueberries, and organic grapes to get condensed versions of the compound.

In addition, be sure to source a reliable supplement in order to be certain that the daily minimum is consumed. Read labels clearly, check for percentages of the formulation, and understand the source for the best results.

Can You Get Too Much?

Is there such thing as a Resveratrol overdose? Certain groups have already undertaken studies to determine if there were any chances of poisoning occurring from an acute overdose of the compound. The NIH used 25 grams on a single human being with no adverse effects. Though this does imply that there would be no lingering harm from overdoing it a bit on the supplements and food sources, there are some risks to consider.

For instance, certain laboratory animals did begin showing kidney lesions (that were discovered to be reversible) when sustaining chronic overdoses of around 14 grams in human terms. Because it has limited bioavailability, however, it did wear off in the laboratory animals and allow the lesions to disappear.

This same test was not done on humans and so no validation of problems could be provided. However, there are some adverse effects and unknown long term outcomes. These include the theory that certain breast cancer cells might respond to the presence of the compound and that this could prove problematic. Some laboratory studies negated the theories but did show that other cells did experience a slow progression.

Additionally, the "estrogenic" properties of the compound have led some manufacturers of supplements to warn their buyers that there could be risks of interference with oral contraceptives. They also warn that women intending to become pregnant, who are pregnant, and who are under the age of 18 need to avoid the formulas too.

Some studies have been providing patients with 15mg of Resveratrol daily, and for a period of more than two years. To date (2013), no known side effects or problems have occurred.

The Little Known Mechanisms

It is quite interesting to discover all of these things about Resveratrol and not yet touch on some of the most fascinating parts of its story. This is that its mechanisms are still a bit mysterious, and that they seem to mirror the biochemical effects that present in cases of calorie restriction. Many recent articles take this subject and look at the ways that it has repeatedly prolonged life in laboratory subjects. Rats and mice kept on very low calorie counts tended to greatly outlive other subjects with normal or high caloric options.

The fact that Resveratrol also has a similar capability, but without the need to actually cut calories, is very promising news in the world of alternative medicine, dieting, and supplements.  What is known is that the compound seems to activate a material known as SIRT 1 as well as PGC-1a. These are materials that improve the performance of cellular mitochondria. This, theorize the scientists, could easily extend life spans, inhibit the growth of cancer cells, and also aid in the fight against damages done by irradiation and chemotherapy.

Even better news for those who want to implement a Resveratrol regimen into their daily eating plans is the fact that it is a compound that seems to interfere with all stages of carcinogenesis. This means that the compound has effectively induced apoptosis or cellular death whenever it interacts with cancer cells in the laboratory setting.

Currently, this information is also being put to work to test its abilities with neuronal cell dysfunction in order to combat such catastrophic diseases as Alzheimer's' and Huntington's. It is being tested for its abilities to prevent the progression of cardiac fibrosis and has shown effectiveness in increasing testosterone naturally. And finally, another of the as yet determined benefits of Resveratrol supplementation is that laboratory studies have shown that lung epithelial cells are protected naturally against oxidative stress when the compound is present.

Now, many of these laboratory studies and tests are still in their earliest stages, but they do show us that the compound has far more activity and capability than many initially recognized.

A Few Words about Wine

While we have already touched on wine and Resveratrol, we feel it is important to be very clear on the subject. If you were to do an Internet search for the word "Resveratrol", you would notice that a lot of images of glasses of wine or of wine pouring from the bottle are used. This is a very misleading message.

In 1940, Resveratrol was first discovered. By 1963, it was determined that it could be found in many different plant sources, but always in that pure form. In the early 1990s, it was found that it could be obtained in red wine because of the use of red grapes and their seeds.

However, let's be very clear about this: the total amount of the compound in grape skins varies substantially wider than in any other food source. For example, a food scientist could know with certainty that one cup of raw peanuts would provide them with .26mg of the material. However, that same scientist would get anywhere from non-detectable levels to an impressive 14.3mg. Thus, it is never to be viewed as an actually reliable source for the compound. And as already pointed out, you would be required to consume more than one full liter per day to gain the benefits that were in the wine. Instead, you should keep in mind that on an ounce per ounce measure, blueberries have twice as much Resveratrol as the grapes. Heating, cooking, processing and anything that alters the chemistry of the food sources, however, will reduce their content by up to half.

What to Expect

So, what can you anticipate if you begin to use a Resveratrol regimen? It all depends on the ways that you add this wonderful and safe compound to your diet. If you take oral supplements it may take a matter of weeks before some of the benefits can be noticed. If you follow a highly recommended "combination" approach that relies on food sources and supplementation, you will see things change straight away. If you take things a third step and start consuming the green and white teas described above, you can really boost the rate at which your body begins to use the regular supplies of the compound.

You will feel an immediate clarity in the mind and you are going to also notice a radical increase in energy too. Let's not overlook the simple fact that anyone combating certain diseases will be able to enjoy the benefits too. For example, cancer patients, those with diabetes, and even those with heart disease will get very noticeable benefits from even the most basic supplementation. Lastly, don't overlook any options for topical formulas as these are absorbed readily and begin "undoing" the many damages of time, stress, lifestyle, and environment.

All in all, this is certainly one of the most exciting supplements on the market, and the sooner you use it the better you will feel.

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