Friday, June 25, 2010

The red wine cure continues by Jerry Brainum

Resveratrol (RES) is a hot topic in medicine and among those interested in life extension. Resveratrol is a polyphenol found naturally in grapes, blueberries, peanuts, and most notably, red wine.Until recently, most of the healthy attributes of red wine had been ascribed to its content of resveratrol. Indeed, the much heralded "French Paradox," was thought to be due to the French custom of consuming significant amounts of red wine. In return, the French show lower rates of cardiovascular disease, despite their high fat diets. More recent research, however, shows that the likely benefits of red wine accrue from its content of not only resveratrol, but also various other polyphenols that may impart important antioxidant benefits. Some of these substances also boost nitric oxide synthesis in blood vessels, which offers lower blood pressure protection.
   Resveratrol began attracting a cult following on the Internet after various animal studies showed that it seemed to offer significant health and life extension benefits. One particularly exciting finding was that resveratrol appeared to boost the activity of a protein called SIRT-1, which offers cellular protection, and is thought to be one of the key mechanisms involved in the longevity-extending effects of caloric restriction. But more recent studies have cast doubt on the effects of resveratrol on SIRT-1. But these newer studies haven't dissuaded numerous Internet resveratrol groupies, who voluntarily ingest doses of resveratrol that they think are comparable to that provided to lab animals in resveratrol studies. Such doses often are the equivalent of consuming thousands of bottles of red wine. The problem here is that thus far, the optimal dosage of resveratrol in relation to health promotion hasn't been established. In addition, absorption studies of resveratrol shows that it's converted to conjugate forms in the liver after only 14 minutes following oral ingestion. These converted forms of resveratrol circulate for 9 hours in the blood, but no one yet knows if they provide any active biological activity in the human body.
     Other studies have hinted at possible dangers involved in overdosing on resveratrol. One study showed that while low amounts of resveratrol offered heart protection during heart attacks, using large doses increased heart damage under such conditions. Resveratrol also chelates and helps to remove the trace mineral copper from the body. While unbound copper in the body is highly prone to oxidation, and has been implicated in the onset of various neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, small amounts are essential to health. A lack of sufficient copper interferes with the function of enzymes needed for production of the connective tissue protein, collagen. This could explain the frequent reports of joint pains in those who use high doses of resveratrol. In a worst-case scenario, a lack of copper can lead to the breakdown of the aorta, the large artery leading from the heart. A more recent study shows that resveratrol acts as an antagonist to estrogen receptor-A. While this attribute of resveratrol explains its presence in bodybuilding supplements aimed at lowering elevated estrogen levels, it also means that resveratrol blocks the blood vessel protection produced by estrogen. This could eventually lead to cardiovascular disease.
     Two other recent studies, however, show some exciting possible health benefits offered by resveratrol. One study found that resveratrol blocked a pathological pathway called angiogenesis in the eyes. This involves the overproduction of blood vessels in the eyes that can lead to blindness, and is a common problem in uncontrolled diabetes, in addition to fostering the spread of cancer in the body, and cardiovascular disease. The other study found that resveratrol has the mysterious ability to specifically target abnormal protein formations in the brain that cause Alzheimer's disease. It somehow doesn't affect normal brain proteins, but works to undue the damage to certain abnormal brain proteins that result in Alzheimer's. The question here is whether sufficient resveratrol can bypass the formidable brain/blood barrier following oral ingestion. But the mere fact that it seems to work as a magic bullet against the primary pathology underlying Alzheimer's is exciting news, particularly when you realize that in the next few years the incidence of Alzheimer's is expected to rise.
     Should you consider taking resveratrol now? According to a another recent study, just 40 milligrams of resveratrol provided significant antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Based on that, taking smaller doses, up to about 400 milligrams daily, is likely safe. But precisely how much will be used by the body is still anyone's guess

©,2013 Jerry Brainum. Any reprinting in any type of media, including electronic and foreign is expressly prohibited

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