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The magic of resveratrol

30 January, 2012

We’ve already seen that resveratrol may be one of the factors responsible for the “French paradox,” but this unique polyphenol has many other properties, especially anti-aging support. Corralling free radicals and repairing damage to cells make resveratrol a worthwhile ally in the quest to boost health—and even mitigate signs of aging.

Resveratrol is a polyphenol, meaning it is derived from the plant kingdom. Good sources of resveratrol include:

  • Red wine or purple grape juice, which uses the skin of red or purple grapes
  • Japanese knotweed (one of many names of Polygonum cuspidatum)
  • Peanuts
  • Some types of berries, including mulberries, cranberries and blueberries

 

Resveratrol is found in red wine

However, these sources contain very small amounts of resveratrol. Consuming concentrated resveratrol in a supplement avoids the fat, sugar or calories associated with some of resveratrol’s other sources.

Once in the body, resveratrol acts in a few different ways. First, resveratrol is an antioxidant. Charged oxygen molecules, called free radicals, roam through the human body. Free radicals are looking to bond with other molecules. They may try to join with the body’s cells, damaging them in the process. This is similar to metal exposed to oxygen in the air—if the metal is unprotected, it will begin to rust.

Antioxidants bond to—and neutralize—these free radicals. The process of oxygenation of the body’s cells can cause them to weaken (such as in blood vessels) or make them more susceptible to clumping (as in the case of LDL cholesterol).

UV radiation, particularly from the sun, is a source of free radicals for nearly everyone. Skin cells damaged by free radicals cannot hold their shape properly and appear as fine lines and wrinkles. Resveratrol’s antioxidant power slows the damage that free radicals can cause.

Recent research has shown that resveratrol also plays an important role in keeping cells from working “too hard.” Resveratrol turns on the SIRT1 protein; the SIRT1 protein is one that controls gene activation. If the genes are turned on too often or unnecessarily, the DNA and its cell can show markers of physical wear and tear. SIRT1 and proper gene regulation can slow down signs of aging.

We’ll explore the unique interaction of resveratrol, SIRT1 and anti-aging in a future post!

 
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