In short: Reputed to be the secret behind the "French Paradox", this naturally-occurring chemical in grapes, peanuts and other plants is a potent antioxidant that works well in concert with other common antioxidants, and might be able to replicate the life-extending effects of a calorie-restricted diet.
The French Paradox
What if you could capture the life-extending properties of the French diet and put it in a bottle? Well, many residents of Bordeaux and Burgundy (not to mention Oregon and upstate New York) would argue that you can. The secret, they and many scientists say, is red wine. In particular, one component is the subject of increasing research as a life-extending nutritional miracle: resveratrol.
Naturally occurring in dark grape skins and seeds, peanuts, and Japanese knotweed (a fixture in Chinese and eastern medicines for centuries as a cure for heart and liver maladies), among other plants, resveratrol is produced by plants to help fend off attack from molds and other pathogens. As a consequence, its presence in grapes is proportional to the molds, yeasts and other environmental pressures that exert an oxidizing attack on the fruit. Cold, moldy climates (such as Bordeaux in France and Willamette Valley in Oregon, both in river valleys) produce grapes with higher resveratrol content than dry, temperate California or Australia. Unusually harsh, penetrating heat can produce high-resveratrol vintages, as can damage from hailstones (I'm not making this up!). Scientists suspect that resveratrol's ability to ward off oxidative damage is not limited to the grape itself--it can do the same for those of us who consume it.
Scientific support for resveratrol
More and more research supports resveratrol's benefit to animal health. Preliminary tests were on the lowly yeast (a single cell creature, but about 70% of its genes are similar to ours), and resveratrol-treated yeast were able to replicate (reproduce) 15 times more than average before they died of old age. Subsequent experiments on fruit flies, worms and fish confirmed the natural compound's ability to not only extend lifespans, but to delay the debilitating effects of aging. In the recent fish study, the fish fed resveratrol not only lived 50% longer than unsupplemented fish, older fish exhibited a degree of vivaciousness and mental acuity of fish much younger. Female fish fed resveratrol were even reproducing, with healthy offspring, after the control group of fish were already dead.
David Sinclair discusses resveratrol research with Barbara Walters (video)
Tests on mammals
The most newsworthy research recently has been on mice. A Harvard University study led by David Sinclair, used 3 groups of mice as its subjects:
- a control group, fed a normal diet
- a test group fed a high-calorie diet
- a second test group also fed a high-calorie diet, but with high doses of resveratrol
Naturally, the high-calorie mice groups experienced obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, while the normal diet mice did not. What was surprising, though, was that the second test group (which got resveratrol) lived as long as the control group, while the first test group died much younger.
A second study, conducted by Johan Auwerx and his colleagues at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology in Illkirch, France, found that resveratrol significantly increased the endurance of test mice, by increasing the density of mitochondria in their cells.
Moving up the food chain to us, the expectations are obviously not conclusive yet, although resveratrol's ability to help mice (mammals strikingly similar to us genetically speaking) and not only single-cellular yeasts portends well, and again, we have the French Paradox to suggest something good about red wine. Let's face it-fatty cheeses, bread, cigarettes and foie gras are not likely the secrets behind French longevity.
Will it work on us?
No one knows. Brent Bauer, director of the complementary and integrative medicine program at the Mayo Clinic says, "The right place now with resveratrol is to say that this is really intriguing data, but mice aren't humans."
However, since humans have 70+ year lifespans, it will be quite some time before we know anything conclusive for humans. And, resveratrol has been shown to drastically increase lifespans in all animals it's been tested on, from yeast, to fruit flies, to fish, and now to mice. Tellingly, Dr David Sinclair mentions in the Charlie Rose clip above that he's been taking resveratrol for the past three years...although, of course, he cautions that no one needs to be taking it.
Personally, I'll continue to take it and wait for scientists to tell us in 50 years that it works.
Resveratrol and Alzheimer's prevention (video)
Additional research and findings
- Resveratrol promotes the clearing of brain plaques implicated in Alzheimer's disease (see video to right):
"Resveratrol, a naturally occurring polyphenol mainly found in grapes and red wine, markedly lowers the levels of secreted and intracellular amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptides produced from different cell lines."
- Resveratrol is one of a select group of compounds that prevents the proliferation of cancerous cells.
"Overall these results indicate that aspirin and ibuprofen are least potent, while resveratrol, curcumin, celecoxib, and tamoxifen are the most potent anti-inflammatory and antiproliferative agents of those we studied."
- Resveratrol inhibits the flu virus.
"Resveratrol, a chemical found in grapes and other fruits, inhibits the reproduction of influenza viruses in cell culture and mice, according to a recent report in the Journal of Infectious Diseases. Rather than directly attacking the flu virus itself, resveratrol seems to block host-cell functions that are essential for viral replication."
Heard about Dr Oz and resveratrol? Get informed first.
- Dr Oz & Resveratrol
Which resveratrol pill does Dr Oz recommend? NONE. Please read this important article and don't get swindled!
How to get it in your diet
How to best get resveratrol? I personally take a supplement for two reasons:
- I'm not a heavy-enough wine drinker. A typical 5 ounce glass of red wine will have anywhere from 0.3 mg to 1.9 mg of resveratrol, while the typical supplement has over 30 mg of resveratrol.
- It costs only about 30 cents per day to take the supplement. Wine? Plan on spending about $50-100 per day to get the same amount of resveratrol (not to mention the constant state of inebriation you'd be in).
Besides, supplements are standardized for resveratrol content, while wine can vary widely by grape, region and vintage. But that's just me-millions of happy old Frenchmen would argue that to turn away a glass of fine pinot noir in favor of a capsule would constitute sacrilege, and if you like a glass or two of the red stuff to go along with your dinner every evening, then you might be apt to agree with them.
Dosage? There is no established suggested dosage, as this is not a required supplement for survival. Since the beginning of 2006, in addition to the occasional glass (or two) of Willamette Valley pinot noir, I've taken 1 Solaray Resveratrol capsule, standardized to contain 37.5 mg of resveratrol each. My daily dosage comes to less than 35 cents. I've also tried a few other brands, including Pure Encapsulations and Nature's Way. Most use Japanese knotweed as the source of resveratrol, since it is far cheaper a source than grapeskins or red wine extract.
Some will add grape seed extract and/or red wine extract, since these contain healthful procyanidins (polyphenols).
Mini-reviews of a few resveratrol products.
- Pure Encapsulations: $18 for 60 caps of 40mg (pure) resveratrol, or $0.30 per capsule. Added benefit: Much smaller capsules, easier to swallow.
- Solaray: $20 for 60 caps of 37.5mg (pure) resveratrol, or $0.33 per capsule. Larger capsule but also contains grape seed & red wine extracts (rich in healthful polyphenols). Seems to be out of stock often.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
© 2006 Jason Menayan
Jeff Kleinman on December 23, 2012:
This is a very informative Hub about resveratrol. I personally take one capsule of 100mg of trans-resveratrol (from 200mg of knotweed roots) with my breakfast everyday. It is made by a well-known vitamin company and is available at my local grocery store, which makes it easy to find and buy. I also trust it more than one that is sold only on the internet because it has to jump over a few more hurdles to make it onto the shelf at a grocery store. I figure it is worth a try. If it works, great. If not, I'm still eating a very healthy diet of mainly raw vegetables and raw fruits, keeping my weight down, exercising every day, and drinking a glass of red wine (or two) with every dinner. I also drink pure blueberry juice, green tea, and other healthy things. The other supplements I take are vitamin C, vitamin D, and pycnogenol.
Elsa Chamberlain on May 24, 2012:
How can I order the Resveratrol, I am interested and
it was recommended by a lot of people.
Kat on February 17, 2012:
Can you take resveratrol & Nature throid.
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on December 11, 2011:
Every little bit helps! Thanks for your comment.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 11, 2011:
I have also heard good things about reservatrol but so far just get mine in eating blueberries and drinking red wine. I may not be getting enough from a medical standpoint...but I am enjoying the tastes and flavors. Something to be said for that! Ha!
Dave on November 29, 2011:
Beings the last post to this article was 13 months ago I'd like to read more about how resveratrol has improved their health. Thanks
Franchise on May 26, 2011:
going to get some resveratrol. Nice information..
Elaine on October 12, 2010:
I have been taking Resveratrol called VIVIX for 26 months. At 77 I am capable of doing anything I did at 50 and my health is much better than it was then. Bone health has greatly improved. I avoided neck surgery although it was several months after beginning the VIVIX that the calcium deposits dissolved in my neck and back. I would not be without it.
Knotweed on August 27, 2010:
Any further info about Japanese Knotweed? I was stunned when I read the ingredients The stuff grows like crazy behind my house. Impossible to stop. I always thought it had amazing survival characteristics. Any way to cook or process the plants? !
Gary Anderson from Las Vegas, Nevada on July 09, 2010:
I love red wine. My wife gets headaches when drinking red, not white. Anyone know why?
Kim Harris on June 15, 2010:
very useful information.....and well written. Thank you. going to get some resveratrol.....brb....
HubpagesCreation from Internet on April 07, 2010:
Thanks for touching the practical aspects of resveratrol doseage. As you've said we cannot deny the fact that it is still under research!
Vitamin D Health from US, New Zealand, Canada on December 11, 2009:
a friend was just telling me the same thing about Pinot Noir...and yet guess what I just found out? Started getting hot flashes (52) about half a year ago...annoying. But noticed recently I wouldn't have them if I had quite ordinary red wine with dinner, one or two glasses--not much. I was flash-free. Bonus :) Then an email from Dr. Sears came last week and confirmed the same.
OregonWino on December 01, 2009:
Great article! I knew that red wine (especially Pinot Noir) had health benefits but really did not understand them all that well.
mary ann on October 19, 2009:
i ve been taking oneglobal fruit diet supplement a day.It has 3 mgm resveratrol in it along with acai, mangosteen ,pomegranate ,goji,blueberry,cranberry,rasberry and more. Is it worth it? They are in the form of soft chews
Jeremy Lucas on September 21, 2009:
@vitaman249: I would say to get the higher end benefits that researchers are attributing to resveratrol, the only way to go would be with supplements. That isn't to say there are no benefits to drinking moderate amounts of red wine or eating grapes, you just will not be able to maximize resveratrol's potential.
Acai on September 11, 2009:
well, I agree on the most recent research showing a low dose formula to be better. I've used the Pure Resveratrol by CetroLabs and found it to be a very good quality product, as well as being a lower dose as the most recent study's recommend.
vitaman249 from Saudi Arabia on August 19, 2009:
So which one is the best?
I guess I am going to mix them all in a blender and drink it :-)
Great articl buy the way
mp on August 04, 2009:
I like your comment on continuing to take it and wait for scientists to endorse it 50 years from now... its not like its a something chemically manufactured its made from natural products we already know are beneficial... shouldn't need a scientist for this one...
Mark on July 25, 2009:
I agree on the most recent research showing a low dose formula to be better. I've used the Pure Resveratrol by CetroLabs and found it to be a very good quality product, as well as being a lower dose as the most recent study's recommend.
Melody Lagrimas from Philippines on July 10, 2009:
Thanks for gathering and putting this info on this hub.
JJ Barnes on May 10, 2009:
All the recent clinical trials from breast cancer to diabetes point to low dose resveratrol being as effective as high dose and without the potnetial drawbacks; i.e. side effects such as copper chelation. I take RESVANTAGE (human formula) and give Max (my Scotty) RESVANTAGE CANINE which also has sea kelp for vitamins and minerals and lecithin for his nervous system and to elmulsify fats in his diet and flaxseed oil for his skin and coat. It is a very effective anti cancer agent as well as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. A great preventative measure for my Maxie boy and I couldn't be more pleased. It's been a life changer for me and I'm confident that I can't do anything better for Max.
Linda on April 01, 2009:
Have you had a chance to watch 60 Minutes or Barbra Walters segments last weekend about it?It show promise in mice. For mice, has shown major health improvements including blood sugar control. Keep in mind that 6 out of 10 major drug successes in mice - fail in humans. But the limited human trials showed promise and there are some patients that claim it helps. However, this could be the 'placebo effect,' and only empirical data under controlled experiments can tell for sure. It will take a few years for these clinical trials to conclude. You can get supplements of the extract right now. While it is safe, it is not guaranteed to work. Before making a decision, you should watch all the videos. Here's the a recap from all the trustworthy shows: http://resveratrolcertifiedsupplements.com/?page_i... did some research and learned the following: You can only get 1-2mgs of it in a single bottle of wine. So, white, it's a good excuse to drink wine, but you really won't get much benefit. There are supplements on the market - but many do not have the required strength and they don't work for everyone. The only way to know for sure is to try the supplements. Hope you find this interesting... its a future hope for the fountain of youth and treatments (not cures) for countless diseases.
people magnet from Florida's East Coast on February 26, 2009:
Very good and informative article. So many HEALTHFUL things we can do to improve our well being. Thanks for your diligent research.
Holden on February 20, 2009:
Kurzweil seems to be following Sinclair based on his weight. ( I also take 200 in the morning and 200 at night based on my weight) Sinclair has also stated that he was taking Longevinex when those came in 40mg capsules; 160 mg with breafast and 160 mg at dinner.
The dosage debate isn't over, but you'd think Sinclair as well as Kurzweil who has a team of researchers are probably on the right track. A single 500mg capsule taken once a day probably isn't as effective but may not be too different.
3minutes on February 06, 2009:
Most supplements capsules contain 50-100 mg. We are developing an extra potency formula to get the full benefits in the doses used by the test groups. http://www.resveratrolx.com
Resveratrol on January 26, 2009:
Regarding dosages, in Ray Kurtzweil's book on anti-aging, "Fantastic Voyage", he recommends a dosage of 400mg per day (200mg twice a day). Just an FYI.
Jason on December 03, 2008:
I take a new liquid Resveratrol formulation that has been giving me some good results...so much so that I decided to market it. I don't know if it will work for others like it has for me, but it is the only all-natural supplement that was formulated by Dr David Sinclair. It is new to the market as of August 8th, 2008. If you know anyone that would like to know about a product like that then please forward them my link below and I'll make sure that they get a 15% discount just for trying it P.S. It tastes great too...don't just take my word for it Regards,Jason
Robert B on November 17, 2008:
ResvantageCanine is a custom formulated resveratrol supplement for dogs with 5mgs of resveratrol plus vitamins, minerals, omega 3 fatty acids and lecithin. It is a complete longevity enhancer.
Jack on April 14, 2008:
I still like drinking my red wine but love knowing about the supplements - it all seems very promising
Aakash on April 09, 2008:
I have been taking resveratrol via a suppiment from a comanpy called Caudalie. They also make skincare using all of the polyphenols and anti oxidants of the grape. I just heard the other day that more and more credit is being giving to resveratrol. Caudalie has 3 different pattens from the skin. My company is called Atmosphere Beauty and I happy to answer anyone's questions. One catch the resveratrol is not currently available in the U.S. due to labeling restrictions. It should be coming back hopefully soon.
Jason Stanley on March 29, 2008:
My wife usually has red wine with dinner, I usually have white. Not at all gourmet, we are not discerning about what we eat with which wine. She looks great, much younger than her years. On the other hand, my face is completely cracking up like the texture of redwood bark. Could it be the wine? I say this tongue in cheek, but it is fun to have an excuse for looking so old.
Joanie Ruppel from Texas on March 02, 2008:
I had no idea of the range of potential benefits. I had heard of the cardiaovascular impact, but many of the others were news to me.
djsartin from Missouri Ozarks on October 13, 2007:
Excellent article. I first heard of resveratrol in Dr Perricones latest book.
At 65 years of age, I've eaten close to a balanced diet with a wide variety of types of foods for years now and about a year ago started buying live whole food supplements from URI International. Also a rep for them. Also recently started drinking Zrii juice...yummy! So getting resveratrol for a while now and feeling great!
Enjoy your articles very much. Have read about all you have up now!
DR ALIYU on October 05, 2007:
this is an excellent article
Larry R. Miller on September 27, 2007:
Very good article. Blueberries are also a good source. I lived in the Willamette Valley for 17 years and can attest to the mold. Thanks for the information. Keep posting.
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on July 07, 2007:
That's true. Much less sugar helps, and the alcohol in wine help too. Stress is really probably the biggest killer of all. But the resveratrol experiments on animals above point to something beyond even that.
Fitter on July 07, 2007:
>Plus the red wine of course!
Yep, they drinking it all day long! I was in France so I can say that every meal supposes to drink some wine...
Clive on July 07, 2007:
Another reason for the 'French Paradox' might be that they tend to have a big lunch and a light supper. Plus the red wine of course!
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on April 19, 2007:
Three questions about your product, Anthony: 1) stability of your product, 2) bioavailability, and 3) cost on mg-equivalent basis
Anthony Loera on April 19, 2007:
I have read the bioavailbility study, and small dosages really aren't found as much in human plasma as they are in the mice...basically, if you are serious about Resveratrol, you need to read up on it, and purchase an amount that makes sense for your body.I believe 350mg or 500mg capsules are probably the best way to go.But what you really need to do, is read a bit more about it. you can start at wikipedia.com and enter 'Resveratrol'. It really has a good amount of information on it.ThanksAnthony Loera
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on March 05, 2007:
That might be true. In the Charlie Rose interview, he just says that he's been taking resveratrol, but doesn't say how much. His dosage level is much closer to those in the mice experiments, but the dosage I personally take is much higher than what you'd get from drinking wine.
Are you taking resveratrol? If so, how much per day? And how much are you paying for it?
CD on March 05, 2007:
D. Sinclair has stated he takes 5 mg/kg/day resveratrol. This ought to be in the range of 300-500 mg/day, much more than the amount contained in the above referenced supplement.
Cory Zacharia from Miami Beach, Florida on February 18, 2007:
Great page! I plan to bookmark this.
Jason Menayan (author) from San Francisco on January 16, 2007:
You're very welcome. This is one of the few supplements that I feel has substantial value for your health. I've been taking it for over a year now. Check back with me in about 30 to see if it's had an impact! ;-)
vic on January 11, 2007:
Thanks for the information. I started taking resveratrol a week ago.