June 4, 2022 — 9:04 AM
Resveratrol was first isolated by Japanese physician Michio Takaoka in 1939, but its wide range of health benefits was not fully understood until scientists discovered its presence in red wine in the 1990s. They quickly realized this antioxidant could be key to “The French Paradox”–an epidemiological observation that while the French diet is highly potent in saturated fats (hello, butter and cheese!), France’s incidence of cardiovascular health issues and problems are relatively low.
In other words: Resveratrol could be the secret to having your baguette and eating it too (with butter and a glass of merlot, of course).
What is resveratrol?
Resveratrol is a polyphenol, which is a unique, naturally occurring phytochemical compound found in plants. Polyphenols have intrinsic antioxidant properties and help protect plants (and animals) from oxidative pathways and cellular damage. When it comes to resveratrol, this is very much the case.
Health benefits of resveratrol.
Resveratrol is a unique polyphenolic phytonutrient with many native biological properties that provide health benefits–including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, and cardioprotective activities that support everything from longevity to cardiovascular and cognitive function.*
Here are seven ways resveratrol promotes whole-body health.
Promotes antioxidant activity.
Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant phytochemical that helps rid the body of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and other free radicals to combat oxidative stress.* Interestingly, a 2017 scientific review from the British Journal of Pharmacology hypothesizes that resveratrol’s ability to neutralize free radicals is not due to its direct scavenging abilities, but rather, its role in gene modulation, acting at the level of DNA.*
Cellular resilience and longevity.
A decrease in the number of mitochondria (aka our energy powerhouse organelle) present in cells is a sign of both aging and various health concerns. According to a 2018 review from The Journal of the Polish Biochemical Society, resveratrol regulates and protects mitochondrial health and biogenesis (i.e., the synthesis of mitochondria), which promotes longevity of the heart, brain, and whole body.*
Additionally, resveratrol has been found to support healthy aging by activating sirtuins (i.e., regulatory genes and key players in cellular aging and longevity), and maintaining telomere length and integrity.*
“Is resveratrol the fountain of youth? I wouldn’t go that far, but these findings sure are interesting and make me think about how I can increase my exposure to this powerhouse compound,” integrative gastroenterologist Marvin Singh, M.D., wrote in a previous mbg article.
Speaking of a long and healthy life, supplementing with resveratrol has also been shown to support memory, mood, and cognitive function.*
Brain nutrition for cognitive performance and mental clarity*
In a yearlong study published by Nutrients in 2020, daily resveratrol supplementation was found to significantly improve overall cognitive performance women ages 45 to 85.* It’s worth noting that this robust, long-term clinical trial used the same form and dose of resveratrol as mbg’s proactive brain health supplement, brain guard+ (i.e., 150 milligrams of fermentation-derived resveratrol known as Veri-Te(TM)).
At two years, we know from 2021 research in Clinical Nutrition that improvements via daily resveratrol supplementation at 150 milligrams have been documented for verbal memory as well.
Interestingly, a 2016 preclinical study in mice published in the Journal of Neurophysiology demonstrated that resveratrol helps maintain the integrity and function of the blood-brain barrier (BBB).* The BBB is vitally important to brain longevity and cognitive function, as its main roles include ensuring the brain gets the nutrients it needs via blood and protecting the brain (particularly the hippocampus, a part of the brain associated with memory and learning) from unwanted toxins.
Cerebral blood flow.
In addition to its neuroprotective actions, resveratrol also promotes vasodilation, which increases blood flow in the brain during cognitively demanding tasks, indicating another unique mechanism for this phytonutrient’s nootropic benefits.* Sufficient cerebral blood flow means proper oxygen and nutrient supply to the brain and effective elimination of metabolic waste.
In a 2017 Nutrients study of postmenopausal women, taking 150 milligrams of resveratrol daily was found to increase cerebrovascular responsiveness (CVR)–i.e., the blood vessels’ ability to dilate in order to match blood flow to tissue demand–by 17 percent.* CVR is critical for optimized circulatory function in the brain, making it a valuable measurement of cerebral blood flow and overall brain health.
Vascular function, or the health of our vasculature or network of blood vessels throughout our body, is massively important. While heart health might immediately come to mind, your brain is atop the list of vasculature-relevant organs, too.
When it comes to heart health, resveratrol is cardioprotective, which means it’s been found to promote cardiovascular function in myriad ways (largely thanks to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions).*
In a 2019 scientific review from International Journal of Molecular Sciences, resveratrol was found to reduce vascular oxidative stress and arterial stiffness.* Resveratrol also helps increase endothelial nitric oxide production, which helps blood vessels dilate and constrict to promote healthy blood pressure levels.*
What’s more, we know that resveratrol supplementation (at 150 milligrams taken daily) significantly improves cerebrovascular responsiveness to cognitive stimuli in women ages 45 to 85 and that this netted positive gains in the brain domain of verbal memory (you know, recalling words throughout your day!).*
Healthy skin aging.
In addition to all of those blood flow benefits (after all, our skin is an organ that relies on a healthy blood supply), resveratrol is also supporting our “beauty” organ in other key ways. According to mbg’s beauty director, Alexandra Engler, polyphenols (like resveratrol) are extremely beneficial for skin health: “Resveratrol has been shown to help skin respond to UV exposure and free radicals, which is useful to combat signs of skin aging,”* she says.
Immune function support.
Largely due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powerhouse properties, resveratrol supports immune function as well.* According to a 2017 scientific review published in Nutrients, resveratrol promotes healthy immune response by mediating immune cell regulation, cytokine production and balance, and gene expression.*
This is, in part, thanks to resveratrol’s role in activating the SIRT1 protein, which is encoded by the “longevity gene” (aka SIRT1).* In addition to regulating endocrine function, the SIRT1 protein promotes DNA integrity and protects cells from oxidative stress, which has positive implications for immune resilience overall.
Sources of resveratrol.
Along with a number of other polyphenols, resveratrol is found in a number of foods and beverages. “Polyphenols are naturally occurring phytonutrients that give foods their bright colors,” explains Singh. “While red wine is one of the most famous sources of resveratrol, there are other sources–such as grapes, blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, and even peanuts. It’s the skin of these foods that contains the resveratrol.”
So, how much resveratrol is in these foods, exactly? Let’s look at some common foods with resveratrol and how much of the potent antioxidant you’re getting per serving:
5 oz glass of Pinot Noir: 531.67 micrograms (0.5 milligrams)
5 oz glass of Merlot: 414.03 micrograms (0.4 milligrams)
1 cup of Concord (purple) grapes: 97.24 micrograms (0.1 milligrams)
1 cup of Niagara (green) grapes: 48.62 micrograms (0.05 milligrams)
1 cup of boiled peanuts: 924.84 micrograms (0.9 milligrams)
3.5 oz of peanut butter: 32.4 micrograms (0.03 milligrams)
1 cup of raw peanuts: 10.22 micrograms (0.01 milligrams)
1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips: 337.68 micrograms (0.34 milligrams)
2 Tbsp of cocoa powder: 19.98 micrograms (0.02 milligrams)
Note the very modest resveratrol content of these food sources. While getting antioxidants and polyphenols from food is always a good thing, those looking for a clinically relevant (and targeted, daily) dose of resveratrol may want to consider supplementation.
Nutrition scientist Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D, RDN explains that, “A meaningful dose of resveratrol for health is about 75 milligrams and up. From targeted brain health research, we know that benefits for cerebral blood flow, verbal memory, and cognitive performance are observed at 150 milligrams of daily resveratrol.”*
Wearing her dietitian hat, Feria puts this into perspective with our daily diet: “Want to eat or drink your way to 150 milligrams of resveratrol? That’ll be 21 cups of mulberries or 300 glasses of wine.” Or, “have your berries and supplement, too. They are both helpful and healthful. The latter is just way more targeted and concentrated resveratrol source for functional brain health gains,”* she concludes.
Resveratrol is derived from various plant botanicals to be used in single ingredient and multi-ingredient supplements. While a few food sources listed above offer concentrations of resveratrol that are higher than average (e.g., approximately 7 milligrams from mulberries, 0.9 milligrams from boiled peanuts, and 0.5 milligrams from Pinot Noir), as Ferira explained above, these are still low amounts compared to the average resveratrol supplement.
When considering a supplement with resveratrol, you should look for a clinically relevant dose (i.e., the amount shown to provide health benefits in clinical studies) of 75 to 150 milligrams.* Supplementing with this meaningful dose of resveratrol and including resveratrol-rich foods in your diet will ensure you’re reaping all the benefits of this anti-inflammatory, antioxidant powerhouse.*
Bioavailability of resveratrol.
As you can see, resveratrol is a potent phytonutrient with a number of physiological benefits. The only downside? Resveratrol metabolizes quickly when it’s derived from certain plants, making it difficult for the human body to utilize. Luckily, there are a couple ways to maximize this phytonutrient’s bioavailability so we can fully harness its power.
Pairing with a buddy botanical.
When derived from Japanese knotweed (technical plant name Polygonum cuspidatum), resveratrol isn’t absorbed very efficiently on its own. Seeking to optimize absorption further? Enter: piperine.
From 2011 preclinical research published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, it’s known that pairing Japanese knotweed with piperine (a compound in black pepper) significantly increases resveratrol’s bioavailability by way of aiding in its absorption.*
That’s exactly why we combined these two buddy botanicals in our ultimate multivitamin+ formula to ensure that resveratrol’s absorption (and thus, antioxidant activity and longevity benefits) are fully maximized.*
Leveraging unique fermentation technology.
Dietary supplement formulas should always be catered to the areas of health they are aiming to support. When we were researching potential ingredients sources for the resveratrol in our newest supplement, brain guard+, Veri-Te(TM)–a clinically backed nootropic form of resveratrol that demonstrates brain-specific health benefits, like improved cerebral blood flow and cognitive performance–was the obvious choice.*
When including resveratrol in a supplement formula, the source will dictate whether or not the phytonutrient needs to be paired with another botanical to be properly absorbed. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, fermentation-derived resveratrol Veri-Te(TM) doesn’t require piperine (or other buddy botanicals) to achieve brain health efficacy, as demonstrated by multiple clinical trials discussed above.*
Resveratrol is an antioxidant you want on your team when scavenging free radicals. And for a daily dose of brain-supporting bioactives (i.e., resveratrol, citicoline, and kanna) that promote cognitive performance and brain longevity, mbg’s brain guard+ does the trick.*
Brain nutrition for cognitive performance and mental clarity*
Brain nutrition for cognitive performance and mental clarity*