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Resveratrol is Best Vitamin Hack So Far

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A molecular picture of resveratrol
Resveratrol, which has a resemblance to estrogen, may hold the key
to longer life, better health, and prevention of certain common diseases.
No, I have not been smoking it.


Some folks play the ponies. Some curse. Some people read horoscopes Other people ride camels and wear funny shoes. Some people kick their dog around when they get home at night.

I'm a vitamin freak.

I don't know really how it started. The basic idea is to hack my nutrient uptake system -- provide more of things I might need to achieve a few percentage points of higher mental and physical performance. I went on this health kick about ten years ago when I started taking multivitamins. Then I read some books on how supplements can help with various other health problems. I tried them and they seemed to work.

Of course most of it was probably the placebo effect, but hey, the placebo effect is a powerful thing; if it works, use it.

If you're not into the vitamin scene, let me explain the big picture. Usually there is a study or a famous author that comes out in favor of substance X. Much hype and ballyhoo is made, and for a while substance X can do everything from fight colds to cure cancer and grow hair.

Then somebody finds that substance X is actually dangerous, pointless, or a waste of money. The furor dies down. A few die-hard types keep taking substance X. Meanwhile a new study comes out about substance Y, which is REALLY awesome. Everybody chases after that. There are two camps: the supplement boosters and the supplement naysayers. One side is always after the latest in technology, while the other argues that none of it is worth anything.

In other words, it's just like social networking software.

I understand the silliness of this. After all, I am a rational person. I like the placebo effect for some of the things I take and I'm always hoping that one of these magic substances will pan out. I'm like the guy who keeps betting on the long-shot horse.

Sooner or later even long shots win.

And I've got that feeling about resveratrol, which I've been following and taking for the last five years. For my friends who are hackers and heavy analytical types, I can hear you grumbling. Tell you what, let me show you the evidence so far. You decide whether this long shot is going to win or not. I'll give you the three main reasons why I think resveratrol is the real deal.

A glass with red wine being poured into it
You can drink 50 bottles of red wine a day, or take supplements.
I think I'll stick with supplements

For years scientists have known there is something special about red wine. The French, who seem to drink quite a bit of it, don't have the same cardiac problems as those in other western countries, an effect known as The French Paradox. Resveratrol, a substance plants make to defend themselves against damage, is found in higher concentrations in red wine than in white wine. Beginning in the 1990s resveratrol looked like an interesting path to pursue for supplement research.

Quantity and quality of studies showing positive effects of resveratrol

As the studies rolled in, things just kept getting more and more interesting. Resveratrol looked more and more promising for treating a wide variety of conditions, including human aging. Let's review:

  • 1997 Jang Study - topical use of resveratrol prevented skin cancer in mice treated with a carcinogen
  • 2003 Howitz and Sinclair - resveratrol significantly extended the lifespan of yeast.
  • 2006 Italian scientists - fish with a median life span of nine weeks was increased it 56% with the application of resveratrol
  • 2006 Sinclair - took mice and gave them a high-fat diet, making them fat. Study showed that the fat mice on resveratrol had similar mortality rates as the non-fat mice, even though their cholesterol levels were the high
  • 2006 Johan Auwerx - Mice fed resveratrol for fiteen weeks had better performance on the treadmill than control mice.
  • 2007 Finnish study - genetic study shows Fins born with certain variations of the SIRT1 gene had faster metabolisms, allowing them to burn energy faster. (The SIRT1 gene is named after Sinclair's research)
  • 2008 Cornell University - dietary supplementation of resveratrol significantly reduced plaque formation in animal brains. Speculation is that it may help with Alzheimer's Syndrome
  • 2009 Wightman - Study shows students given resveratrol before a test score higher than those given a placebo. Scans show cerebral blood flow was notably increased

Effects of Resveratrol on life span
Review of the effects of resveratrol on life span as of 1996.
Later studies show significant increases in the lifespan of mice as well


Those are just the highlights.

I know what some of your are thinking -- Daniel we've been here before with Vitamin C, and Vitamin E, and SAMe, and gosh knows all that other stuff. But wait -- resveratrol is the only thing so far that the researchers are getting patents and developing drugs based on its chemistry. There are current human studies involving resveratrol's effectiveness on colon cancer and intestinal cancer. There are dozens of other studies underway to show its effectiveness in other areas. We didn't see that quantity or quality with those other substances. Some of these studies have been successfully repeated in controlled laboratory conditions -- once again, not much of that before. In addition, these are mostly independent university studies and not paid for by the vitamin industry -- another good sign.

Strong chemical/genetic basis for efficacy

I don't have time to get into point-counterpoint, and I'm no biochemist. But check out the wiki page for some of the chemistry behind resveratrol. Or you can google around for the latest news. Seems like there is a lot of it. There is a solid scientific underpinning and theory as to why resveratrol works the way it does. The various new studies that are being done are being done based on this theoretical underpinning. This is not just arm-waving and guys blowing smoke.

Skeptics have failed to make a case

Even the worst naysayers are simply saying that all supplements are a waste of time -- there's nothing especially bad about resveratrol, just general posturing about supplements being a waste of time.

I remember back in 2002 or 2003 when my radar first starting tracking it. There was a researcher who had been involved in debunking a lot of vitamin claims and he was looking at some of the results of the studies done at Harvard. He said something like "This is the real deal. I've never been as interested and excited about something as I am about this"

In my opinion, resveratrol is going to end up like aspirin -- a natural substance that turns out to have myriad health benefits. It's like watching this huge discovery being made, only its happening so slowly it's not always clear to the participants the magnitude of what they're watching.

So each month, like clockwork, I google around to find the best provider of resveratrol. At first I had a hard time even getting small amounts, but lately everybody and their brother are starting to sell the "mega" sized capsules. This is a sign the market is maturing. Heck, I even looked into buying the stuff in bulk -- that's how sold I am on it. And every month it seems like there are more and more vendors and stories, and the claims are getting more and more outlandish. The excitement builds.

Live forever! Cures cancer! Treats foot fungus!

Will resveratrol follow the same trajectory as all those other substances? I don't think so. So what is resveratrol specifcally good for? Why take it? If I had to guess, and it's only a crazy guess from a vitamin junkie, I'd say take it for prevention of diabetes, better quality of life as you age, and perhaps a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease. That's a pretty big claim! And as Sagan said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. I understand. I can only say "stay tuned". In the next 5-10 years more human studies will come out and we'll have more data. But if you're waiting on somebody to do a human longevity study, that's obviously not going to happen for ethical reasons. I have faith the news is only going to get better.

So why now? Why did I come out of the vitamin closet to make such a strong case? Over the last year I've reached the point where I think I have to take action. I fill like we're at a tipping point. Right now perhaps I could speak to a thousand people. And perhaps ten of them might have a few months of longer life because of my advice. If this is true -- and it's what I believe -- I have an obligation to say something.

Even if you only take a multivitamin now might be a good time to start including some resveratrol in your diet. If you've already accepted the notion that mother nature might need a little boost, resveratrol looks like a good bet. After all, it's a better investment that the daily lottery, or the ponies, or a dozen other things people spend their money on.

My longshot horse is finally going to come in! I just wish it did something about growing hair.

Graph of the lifespan extension of mice fed resveratrol
Results of the mouse study in terms of increased lifespan

UPDATE: Hearing great things about Vitamin D, niacin, and yellow root. More information to come in a later blog. There are many things out there keeping you from getting sick, making you live longer, or helping you get well.. It's a fascinating topic.

6 Comments

Hi Daniel
Resveratrol gets high marks in the botanical
antioxidant stakes and I've been taking it for years.
There is however something more potent and its producted
by humans, for humans, well until we are 20 and then
planned obsolescence sets in and we begin to wrinkle.
Check out what Doctors have discovered at:-
http://max4me.blogspot.com

I just wondered how can I determine which out of the hundreds of new resveratol capsules are good? There seems to be so many on the market. Where does one begin?

As you noted, there are now dozens or hundreds of different brands out there. It's really confusing.

I can't say what makes one better than the other -- I'm no expert. Honestly I don't think there is a huge difference. Most of these guys are probably buying their resveratrol wholesale through one of the major chemical plants and just packaging it and reselling.

Personally, and I am not a doctor, I shoot for between 3 and 7 grams of resveratrol a day. So I look for quantity of resveratrol per capsule. That's just me, though. Your mileage may vary.

I think the resveratrol I’m taking right now I found on Google somewhere.

The thing is that the effects, if any, are subtle and could take months or years to show. So unfortunately that makes it even tougher to pick.

The next time I order, I'm going to use the Res-V guys http://www.linkconnector.com/traffic_record.php?lc=035655029044004016 and see how they do. I have an affiliate relationship with them and they have a pretty slick website, for whatever that's worth.

If you've got stories about different vendors and how they worked out, I'd love to hear them. If one vendor is doing well or ripping people off it's something we need to tell other people about.

Sorry I couldn't be more helpful. Let me know how it goes.

Daniel;
I found your posting both interesting and informative. I do have one concern, however. The literature I have reviewed recommends between 75mg and 500mg per day. You recommend upwards of 3gms per day. Is your dose one you just came up with or do you have literature which indicates this amount.
Steve Bolio

I just want to say, people should first of all eat properly, and then if they don't take what they need, as vitamins and minerals, from their food, they should think about taking supplements. I believe that nature has everything we need.
_____________________
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A couple of clarifications for Steve. While there is some literature that indicates that dosages of up to 5 grams can be taken without negative side effects, there is no indication of any increased benefits to taking such high dosages. The critical points are those of absorption and bio-availability, which can best be achieved with BUCCAL DELIVERY RESVERATROL. Pills and capsules do not provide that kind of delivery, only lozenges, sprays and melts do. A recent clinical from Sirtris with high dosage resveratrol was actually suspended, and it's speculated that it was due to the toxicity caused by such high dosage. In other words, dosage moderation is key. For more info, visit:
http://www.ezresveratrol.com/what-is-resveratrol

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This page contains a single entry by DanielBMarkham published on June 1, 2009 11:20 AM.

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