In a past post, we discussed the growing body of research regarding free-radicals and antioxidants. Despite the longstanding belief that free-radicals were the cause of countless medical conditions, including aging, and that antioxidants were the solution, these findings paint a very different picture, one in which free-radicals play a valuable role and too many antioxidants can actually be a very bad thing.
One of the most popular antioxidant supplements, resveratrol, has been touted as a miracle treatment for everything from aging to obesity and has quickly risen in sales. What exactly is resveratrol and what does it do?
Product of the Vine
Resveratrol is a polyphenol found naturally in many species of plants including, most famously, grapes. In fact the wave of interest in resveratrol began in earnest when studies started to suggest that the cardiovascular benefits of red wine were all thanks to resveratrol. In general, though, most supplements are made from the Japanese and Chinese knotweed plant although some are extracts of red wine or grapes.
Like other polyphenols, resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant that helps to prevent and even reverse the adverse effects of free-radicals. As mentioned, though, isn’t always a good thing.
The newest research regarding resveratrol is especially of interest to those people out there who spend long hours working on their cardiovascular health.
Too Much of A Good Thing
Past studies with resveratrol have shown that the chemical had the amazing ability to enhance the benefits of cardiovascular exercise. Unfortunately, these findings were in animals or test tubes and don’t appear to translate to humans.
Over the course of the 8-week study, 27 men were asked to follow a workout routine. Half of the men were given 250mg of resveratrol and half were given a placebo. At the end of the study, not only did the researchers find that resveratrol did nothing to increase the benefits of exercise, it actually prevented them. The men who took the real supplement saw fewer improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol profiles and the overall efficiency of oxygen use then the placebo group.
What it Means
It’s important to note that the dosages used in the study are fairly high. The dosages found in supplements vary, but genuinely hover around 150mg, much lower than the 250mg used to get the above results.
The study is also the first of its kind and is focused on a very specific group of people: men over 65 who were physically inactive. To fully understand the scope of these effects, more research is needed with a broader subject base.
While you may not see these same effects, this study does add to the warning that too many antioxidants could be counterproductive.