Monday, May 25, 2009

Resveratrol Good News Bad News

Resveratrol may not be the "magic molecule" everyone once thought it was now that science is finally catching up. New evidence is in regarding resveratrol's effects on the Sirtuin1 gene (also known as the longevity gene Sert1) which could indicate a shocking turnaround.

Many supplement makers (and others) were basing their claims for the red wine molecule, resveratrol, on an outdated 2006 study once published in Nature Magazine which claimed mice lived longer on a resveratrol diet... but apparently, the 60% fat-calorie diet they were fed can't be achieved in humans.

More importantly, a recent 2008 resveratrol study discovered that higher doses of resveratrol can potentially do more harm than good.

For one thing, mice fed high-dose resveratrol did not live as long as mice fed a standard calorie diet. As for the Sirtuin1 gene, over-activation of the Sirtuin1 gene in warm-blooded animals increases the occurrence of heart failure by more than 7.5 fold! [link]

In another study it was found that overstimulation of SirT1 may make brain cells vulnerable to damage. [link]
Some scientists are optimistic that in the near future a pill with resveratrol or something like it could provide the health benefits of a very low-calorie diet. But the new research indicates the drug and the diet regimen don't necessarily work the same way.
The bottom line is -- "it's complicated."

Some studies show resveratrol actually works to protect the heart and brain while improving longevity... others reveal the opposite can be true.

Even so... in one of the older studies, it was revealed mice could not survive long without any resveratrol (SerT1) in their system. Quote:
Mice can't dispense with SirT1 entirely, though. Longo's group found that mice from which the SirT1 gene was removed entirely died young. Calorie restriction did not lengthen their lives as it does for yeast lacking the similar gene, Sir2.
And yet, in a more recent report (released in Oct. 2008), indications are:
The accumulation of fat in the liver as a result of chronic alcohol consumption could be prevented by consuming resveratrol, according to a new study with mice. [link]
So... what to believe?

Is more (concentrated) doses of resveratrol actually better? this biotech firm had hoped?

I guess the key here, at this stage of the science, is... if you drink red wine for your source of resveratrol, perhaps you should drink only in moderation.

Alternatively, resveratrol is present in whole food sources such as grapes, peanuts, and most berries.

In our very humble opinion, whenever we see companies jumping all over themselves to simulate a single molecule, you can bet you will be hearing more and more about it as they try to cash in on what it "might" do... and expect to see more advertising implying how good it is for you.

In this case, we'll stick to whole food sources until this complex puzzle has been truly solved.