Resveratrol is a naturally occurring compound produced in grape skins and other plants as a natural defense against toxins. This compound is commonly found in wine, with higher concentrations occurring in red varieties. Some of the functions of resveratrol include inhibiting platelet aggregation (blood clotting), fat metabolism, and boosting antioxidant effects. Exactly how resveratrol works is still a mystery. Research into its benefits is still relatively young, but resveratrol is often considered one of the most promising supplements ever seen.
Benefits of Resveratrol
Over 500 articles have been published about the association between resveratrol supplementation and a variety of health traits. Resveratrol helps the body fight inflammation by lowering the body’s production and response to inflammatory compounds. The natural antioxidant properties of resveratrol also contribute to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Cardiovascular Disease (CVD)
Cardiovascular disease generally refers to conditions that involve narrowed or blocked blood vessels that can lead to a heart attack, chest pain (angina), or stroke. It is also sometimes referred to as “coronary artery disease” or “heart disease”. Other heart conditions, such as those that affect your heart’s muscle, valves or rhythm, also are considered forms of heart disease. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. It is estimated that about 1 in every 4 deaths are due to heart disease each year.
Preliminary research in humans suggests that taking resveratrol may help decrease risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as lipid levels and inflammatory markers in populations with an elevated risk. The research is actually so promising that one published study reported “Our results show for the first time that a dietary intervention with grape resveratrol could complement the gold standard therapy in the primary prevention of CVD”.
High Blood Pressure
A research study in men with high blood pressure, also called hypertension, showed that taking resveratrol may result in a moderate decrease in blood pressure. Blood pressure is the force of the blood pumping against the artery walls. With high blood pressure, repeated stress on the artery wall can cause damage and health problems such as heart disease. Slightly more than one-quarter of adults in the US have high blood pressure.
As mentioned above, clinical studies on the health benefits of resveratrol for CVD also showed a link between resveratrol supplementation and metabolic disorders. Metabolic syndrome is the broad name for any number of conditions and risk factors that increase your risk of CVD or other life-threatening conditions. Metabolic syndrome conditions can include, but are not limited to, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol are all associated with a higher risk of CVD. With increased obesity rates, metabolic syndrome affects as many as 1 in 4 people in the United States. For those with hypercholesterolemia, or high cholesterol, research studies have shown that taking resveratrol may cause a moderate decrease in “bad” cholesterol (LDL) in obese people and people at a heightened risk for cardiovascular disease. Approximately 1 in 3 adults in the US have high cholesterol.
Resveratrol supplementation may also benefit the following conditions, but clinical and research trials are still young:
- COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
- Alzheimer’s Disease
Sources of Resveratrol
Resveratrol gets a lot of publicity because it is found in red wine. And while a glass or two of red wine every night can be beneficial to you, you’ll want to get resveratrol from other sources or supplements to experience the most benefit. Supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so their quality and contents are not guaranteed .
The foods listed below contain some of the highest amounts of resveratrol found in nature. The skins of red grapes contain particularly high amounts, but white grapes (and white wine) also contain resveratrol. It would be easy to meet your daily resveratrol goals with these healthy foods.
- Grape juice
Do I Need A Resveratrol Supplement?
Resveratrol is not a something the human body needs to function, and there is no baseline level, so you cannot be deficient in it. However, the answer to the question of “Should I be supplementing with resveratrol?” is very likely to be “Yes”. The exceptions being individuals that are on anticoagulant or antiplatelet herbs and medications (more information below).
How Much Resveratrol Do I Need?
There is no RDA (recommended daily amount) for resveratrol as of this time. Studies show that benefits can be seen from doses as low as 5-10mg to as high as 5g daily. For reference, a standard 6oz glass of red wine contains approximately 12mg of resveratrol.
What are the Side effects of Resveratrol?
In research studies, noted side effects include intestinal upset and nausea. In rare instances, bleeding and bruising easily were reported. Resveratrol may slow blood clotting. If you are taking anticoagulants or other medications that slow blood clotting (like aspirin), resveratrol supplementation is not advised. Resveratrol supplementation has not been studied during pregnancy and breastfeeding and should be avoided.
Are There Any Medications or Supplements I Shouldn’t Take With Resveratrol?
Resveratrol supplementation is considered safe with the exception of a few potential interactions, as listed below:
Anticoagulant/Antiplatelet Herbs and Supplements
Resveratrol has mild antiplatelet effects in humans. Theoretically, concomitant use of resveratrol with herbs or drugs that have anticoagulant or antiplatelet activity could increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in some people.
These herbs include angelica, clove, danshen, feverfew, garlic, ginger, ginkgo, ginseng Panax, horse chestnut, red clover, turmeric, and others.
Herbs with Estrogenic Activity
There is evidence from in vitro research that resveratrol might have estrogenic effects – it may boost the effects of estrogen in the body. Theoretically, resveratrol might have additive or antagonistic effects with herbs that have estrogenic activity.
Some of these herbs include alfalfa, black cohosh, chasteberry, flaxseed, hops, ipriflavone, kudzu, licorice, red clover, soy, and others.
Resveratrol seems to have antiplatelet effects. Theoretically, taking resveratrol with other antiplatelet or anticoagulant drugs might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding.
Some of these drugs include aspirin; clopidogrel (Plavix); nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others); dalteparin (Fragmin); enoxaparin (Lovenox); heparin; warfarin (Coumadin); and others.
Should you be supplementing with Resveratrol?
Individuals with cardiovascular disease and/or metabolic syndrome will benefit the most from a resveratrol supplement. For those at risk for such health conditions, resveratrol may provide preventative benefits. Even if you are not considered at risk for CVD or metabolic disorders, the daily use of resveratrol through 1-2 glasses of red wine (or the equivalent amount through other foods or supplements) will most likely benefit your long-term health.