The Lowdown on Resveratrol
Resveratrol is an antioxidant that has quickly become very popular and somewhat controversial. Some believe the product has been hyped and is not deliver on its many promised health benefits.
What Is Resveratrol?
Resveratrol is a type of phenol that is produced naturally by some plants when they are under attack from pathogens. You have probably heard of phenols before, as in “polyphenols” which can be found in many super-foods such as pomegranates and grapes (including wine), the latter of which actually contain resveratrol itself.
Rather than extracting it from grapes which is considered inefficient, resveratrol is typically extracted from Japanese knotweed which grows very fast and is actually considered to be an invasive species.
Resveratrol really came to light when 60 Minutes first featured it. Since then, many people have been trying to get their hands on this wonder supplement. There has also been a lot of controversy with celebrities filing lawsuits against resveratrol companies who claimed they endorsed their product.
Many new supplements that hit the market are unfortunately targeted by companies wanting to make quick money using unethical practices. In my view, resveratrol has more promise than most others and doesn’t deserve to have its reputation tarnished.
What Are The Reported Health Benefits Of Resveratrol?
For example, it is said to have anti-cancer properties. Given that cancer is now the leading cause of death, this is significant in terms of prolonging life.
It is also said to have the ability to prolong lifespan directly and may be able to counteract the effects of a high fat diet.
No long term studies on humans have been completed but several animal studies have been done.
For example, lifespan and/or cancer studies have been done on worms, fruit flies, fish and mice. Trials are being planned or are in early stages for human cancer patients. So far, it appears that resveratrol is only effective against cancers that it comes into direct contact with i.e. those of the skin and the digestive tract.
Most supplements are derived from Japanese knotweed and vary in purity from 50% to 99% but this is usually quoted on the label so look out for it. Sometimes it is derived from red wine. It normally comes in softgel or capsule form but you can also find them as melting tablets that don’t require any water.
Some products can cause diarrhea and stomach cramps – this can be due to the resveratrol or the additional ingredients. If this happens to you, try changing to a different brand entirely and see what happens.
Resveratrol looks very promising but the jury is still out its real effectiveness for humans. Most conclusive studies so far have been done on animals with a mixture of stunning results and poor results. Personally speaking, I do believe that is enough evidence to show that resveratrol can confer great benefits to those who take it and that future studies will confirm this.