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Should Resveratrol Be a Daily Supplement?
By Jessica Patella, ND abstracted from “Resveratrol and health- A comprehensive review of human clinical trials” from the June 20, 2011 online publication of Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.
Over the past ten years, thousands of animal studies have suggested resveratrol has anti-aging, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-oxidant properties (1). But how does that translate to humans? A recent review of research suggests that, although there are a limited number of studies with humans, resveratrol shows substantial promise in improving health (1).
Resveratrol is a polyphenol (a type of antioxidant) found in grapes (Vitis vinifera), berries, peanuts, and other plants (2). The most commonly thought of food source for resveratrol is red wine. This is due to the “French Paradox”; a term coined to describe the French population’s low incidence of cardiovascular disease despite a diet high in saturated fat (3).
The French Paradox created considerable interest in resveratrol. The main way resveratrol protects the cardiovascular system is by increasing nitric oxide, which results in dilated blood vessels and therefore increasing blood flow and decreasing blood pressure (1).
In rodent studies with diet-induced obesity, resveratrol improves insulin sensitivity and decreases body weight (1,7).   However, to date there have not been any human studies on the effects of resveratrol on obesity and only one on insulin sensitivity (1). The study on insulin sensitivity found that 5mg of resveratrol taken twice daily over 4 weeks significantly improved insulin sensitivity (8).
One of the greatest concerns with resveratrol supplementation is bioavailability, meaning how well it is absorbed and used in the body. The greatest blood concentrations of resveratrol have been reported with supplementation of 5g trans-resveratrol (4,5). At this dose, the 24-hour average blood plasma concentration was 51.9 microg/L, with a maximum concentration of 538.8 microg/L reached 1.5 hours after supplementation (4). Drinking wine alone (300mL) resulted in a much lower average blood plasma concentration (1.0 microg/L) of resveratrol (6). Overall, the blood plasma concentrations of resveratrol achieved through high-dose supplementation are much greater than those from wine alone (1).
In conclusion, the emerging results from human clinical trials show promise and are confirming previous animal studies (1). Resveratrol is showing positive results in cardiovascular and insulin sensitivity studies. Without long-term studies on resveratrol supplementation, it is not yet known if these positive preliminary findings will result in improving chronic disease or extend lifespan (1). Further research to determine the optimal dose of resveratrol is still needed, along with longer-term studies. 
Jessica Patella, ND, is the founder of Sarasota Natural Health LLC and specializes in homeopathic medicine.   She offers a holistic approach to health, inspiring and empowering her clients to lead lives of optimal health and wellness.  To learn more, visit www.sarasotanaturalhealth.com
1.       Smoliga, Baur, Hausenblas. Resveratrol and health- A comprehensive review of human clinical trials. Mol. Nutr. Food Res. 2011, 55, 1-13. Doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201100143
2.       Baur, J. A., Sinclair, D. A., Therapeutic potential of resveratrol: the in vivo evidence. Nat. Rev. Drug Discov. 2006, 5, 493–506.
3.       Liu, B. L., Zhang, X., Zhang, W., Zhen, H. N., New enlightenment of French Paradox: resveratrol’s potential for cancer chemoprevention and anti-cancer therapy. Cancer Biol.Ther. 2007, 6, 1833–1836.
4.       Boocock, D. J., et al. Phase I dose escalation pharmacokinetic study in healthy volunteers of resveratrol, a potential cancer chemoprotective agent. Cancer Epidemiol. Biomarkers Prev. 2007, 16, 1246–1252.
5.       Brown, V. A., et al. Repeat dose study of the cancer chemopreventive agent resveratrol in healthy volunteers: safety, pharmacokinetics, and effect on the insulin-like growth factor axis. Cancer Res. 2010, 70, 9003–9011.
6.       Gresele, P., et al. Resveratrol, at concentrations attainable with moderate wine consumption, stimulates human platelet nitric oxide production. J. Nutr. 2008, 138, 1602–1608.
7.       Lagouge, M., et al. Resveratrol improves mitochondrial function and protects against metabolic disease by activating SIRT1 and PGC-1alpha. Cell 2006, 127, 1109–1122.
8.       Brasnyo, P., et al. Resveratrol improves insulin sensitivity, reduces oxidative stress and activates the Akt pathway in type 2 diabetic patients. Br. J. Nutr. 2011, 1–7.