Dr Pam Popper: Supplements; Resveratrol & Vitamin D



Is Too Much Resveratrol Harmful?

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My father always told me that few things in life are harmful when taken in moderation. Some things may actually be helpful, when taken this way. This certainly seems to be the case with red wine. Research shows that one to two glasses a day produce a 10% to 15% increase in the good cholesterol HDL and a 30% to 50% reduction in heart attack mortality risk. Of course, excessive red wine consumption can lead to a host of alcohol-related problems and should be avoided.

So what if the beneficial effects of red wine could be taken in a pill? Conceivably we could take nearly unlimited amounts of benefit, while avoiding all of the harm. Such a pill seemingly exists in the form of the supplement resveratrol. Resveratrol is found naturally in the skin of red grapes (and thus in red wine), in other fruits (especially blueberries, bilberries, and cranberries), in peanuts, and in the roots of certain plants such as the Japanese Knotweed. Resveratrol extracted from these sources is sold as a dietary supplement. As a dietary supplement, resveratrol is not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug administration and thus has not been subjected to the rigorous level of testing to which pharmaceutical drugs are subjected.

A “Miracle Drug”?

Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant, and antioxidants are generally thought to be beneficial in health and disease. As a supplement, resveratrol has been touted as a miracle drug. In numerous animal studies, resveratrol has lowered the risk of heart and vascular disease, cancer, inflammation, and insulin resistance, and it has demonstrated anti-aging, life-prolonging effects. In a Harvard University study that was widely publicized when published in 2006, resveratrol prolonged the lifespan of middle-aged mice on a high-calorie diet, while having favorable effects on several metabolic parameters such as insulin sensitivity. The improvement in survival was about 30%, translating hypothetically into a more than 20-year prolongation of lifespan in human years.

This led to the perception of resveratrol as a miracle drug or as a fountain of youth and sales took off. By some reports, resveratrol sales doubled in the year following publication of the Harvard study. According to one supplement manufacturer quoting a recent market analysis, 2011 sales of the raw ingredient were about million, with double-digit growth rates expected for the future. About 90% of sales are generated in the U.S. This figure represents the wholesale market for resveratrol. The retail market is substantially larger.

The Fly in the Ointment

A new study just reported online and published in the Journal of Physiology on July 22, 2013 challenges this rosy view of resveratrol. Using the most rigorous study design possible, a group of scientists at the University of Copenhagen randomly assigned 27 physically inactive middle-aged men to a program of high-intensity physical activity (known to improve health) plus a placebo pill or to high-intensity physical activity plus resveratrol 250 mg daily. By using a matching placebo, investigators and subjects were blinded to the study assignment, in order to minimize bias. In addition, measures used to evaluate the effects of exercise alone in the placebo group versus exercise plus resveratrol were objective and included measures such as blood pressure, good and bad cholesterol, markers of inflammation and atherosclerosis, and exercise capacity. As expected, exercise alone improved these measures. Unexpectedly, the addition of resveratrol to exercise negated these improvements.

Too Much of a Good Thing

Thus, we come back to our theme of moderation. A little resveratrol taken naturally in the diet appears to be a good thing. And, I do mean just a little. The average amount of resveratrol in red wine is about 5 milligrams per liter. This amounts to just about 1 milligram in a typical 6-ounce pour. Compare this to the dose used in the Copenhagen study, which was 250 times more. Based on the results of the Copenhagen study, a lot of resveratrol taken as a dietary supplement does not appear to be such a good thing, although more research needs to be done.

For now, enjoy your red grapes, berries, and peanuts, and if you are so inclined, one or two glasses of red wine a day. Cheers!

Last Updated:7/24/2013
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Video: Which Red Wine Has The Highest Level Of Resveratrol?

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Date: 02.12.2018, 04:05 / Views: 84162