Resveratrol: Powerful Anti-aging Nutrient
Resveratrol is in the news again. In a study released earlier this week, researchers reported that resveratrol, a natural compound found in red wine, may protect the heart against effects of the aging process. In this study, mice were given supplemental resveratrol starting at the midportion of their life until old age. It was found that in these mice, genetic activity changed in a way that was similar to mice fed a caloric restricted diet. As I discussed in my newsletter from two weeks ago, caloric restriction appears to extend life span by up to about 30% in various animal species.
According to Dr. Tomas Prolla, a University of Wisconsin professor of genetics who helped lead the study, researchers found that resveratrol supplemented to these mice blocked a decline in heart function typically associated with aging. This is a very exciting study! Resveratrol appears to be one of the most powerful anti-aging nutrients ever discovered. Whether it extends lifespan in humans is yet to be proven, but studies published in the medical literature regarding red wine and humans indicate that health benefits are very likely for both resveratrol and red wine polyphenols.
Also, just to give you some idea as to how hot resveratrol is, last April, Glaxo-Smith-Kline announced that it would pay $720 million to buy Sirtris Pharmaceuticals, a company that develops drugs mimicking the effects of resveratrol.
In a study recently presented at the Experimental Biology Meeting in San Diego, California, researchers from Tufts University and Boston University reported that a double serving of light cranberry juice could potentially increase arterial blood flow. During a preliminary study, a group of patients with known coronary artery disease were given double servings of light cranberry juice. Over the next several hours, it was noted that there was improvement of blood flow through the arteries of the heart.
Last week, during the American Aging Society Annual Scientific Meeting in Boulder, Colorado, another very interesting study was introduced. In this study, twelve adults with early memory decline drank a total of 15 to 21 ounces of either grape juice or placebo daily divided among meals for a total of twelve weeks. Those individuals who drank the grape juice showed significant improvement in list learning and trends suggested improved short term retention and spatial memory.
I’d like to share another noteworthy item that has recently appeared in the nutrition news. A leading psychologist, Dr. Adrien Raine, speaking at the Brazilian Congress of Brain, Behavior and Emotions, indicated that omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve brain function and reduce violent behavior. He suggested that increasing fish consumption or taking omega-3 supplements could curb aggressive behavior.
Dr. Raine cited a series of medical trials in the last several years. For example, in one study from 2002, 231 young Englishman given nutritional supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids for at two weeks demonstrated an associated 35% reduction in offenses after five months. Although he indicates that the effective dose of omega-3 to prevent anti-social conduct or criminal relapse is unknown, about 1 gram a day of omega-3 or two to three meals of fish a week might be needed.
Certainly some interesting things to report this week. Resveratrol continues to be a superstar nutrient. The take home to this week’s news is that red wine, cranberry juice and dark grape juice all offer excellent health benefits. Unfortunately, there are negatives with juices because of the high sugar content and some people cannot drink wine because of liver and/or alcohol issues. Furthermore, the amount of red wine needed to match the mgs of resveratrol utilized in the most recent study would be 350 – 700 glasses per day. The human equivalent of resveratrol required is in the 300 – 400 mg per day range with the average glass of red wine containing 0.5 to 1 mg of resveratrol per glass.