The number of nutrients in the world are nearly infinite. It seems like every other day, researchers discover another vitamin, mineral, antioxidant, chemical, etc. with possible benefits and side effects. One of the newer discoveries in our lifetimes is resveratrol, and its effects are still being researched.
What Is Resveratrol?
Resveratrol is part of a group of compounds called stilbenes, which are polyphenols. These stilbenes act like antioxidants. Found in plants as part of the defense system, resveratrol protects against diseases and helping the plant survive a lack of nutrients. Resveratrol, like grape seed extract, is found in red and purple grapes and red wine, as well as peanuts, berries like mulberries, blueberries, and cranberries, and the Japanese knotweed plant. However, unlike grape seed extract, resveratrol itself contains potent antioxidant abilities. Vitamin and supplement manufacturers extract most of their resveratrol from grape skins, but researchers consider red wine the highest-concentrated dietary source. While it has good bioavailability for humans, it is also metabolized and utilized quickly.
Resveratrol offers several benefits. As an antioxidant, it protects the body from damage caused by oxidations. It may also help protect against cell death and contain anti-aging effects. Other benefits could include:
- Lower LDL (bad) cholesterol
- Reduce risk for heart attack-causing clots
- Protect against heart disease
- Reduce inflammation
- Help limit the spread of cancer cells and start killing them
- Protect nerve cells from damage and plaque buildup that can lead to Alzheimer’s
- Reduce insulin resistance
- Protect against the effects of obesity
- Help fight infection (bacterial, fungal, viral)
Resveratrol Side Effects
While no severe side effects have been reported thus far, there is some concern surrounding adding resveratrol supplementation. Reported adverse symptoms include upset stomach, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal issues. There’s also some concern around the interaction of resveratrol with other medications. Because of its anti-coagulant properties, the antioxidant could interact poorly with blood thinners and over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin and ibuprofen. Anemics should also exercise extra caution, as resveratrol binds to iron and could cause problems.
As with any recently-discovered nutrient, we need more research to understand the full capabilities of resveratrol. However, the amount of this antioxidant in the human diet is minuscule. Supplementation will be the best way to get the amounts of resveratrol needed to achieve positive outcomes.
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