More On Resveratrol

woman drinking from wine glass
woman drinking from wine glass

Resveratrol, a drug already shown to reverse the effects of obesity in mice and make them live longer has now been shown to increase their endurance as well.

What is Resveratrol?

Resveratrol is a naturally occurring phytoalexin produced by some higher plants in response to injury or fungal infection. Phytoalexins are chemical substances produced by plants as a defense against infection by pathogenic microorganisms, such as fungi. Alexin is from the Greek, meaning to ward off or to protect. Resveratrol may also have alexin-like activity for humans.

Where is Resveratrol found?

Resveratrol is found in grapevines. It occurs in the vines, roots, seeds and stalks, but its highest concentration is in grape skins. Peanuts and some berries also have some resveratrol, according to WebMD. Black grapes are nature's best source of resveratrol.

Why is red wine thought to be healthier than white?

The concentration of resveratrol in red wine is much higher than that of white wine. The main difference between red and white wine production, besides the grapes used, is that for red wine the skins and seeds are involved in the process, while white wine is mainly prepared from the juice, essentially avoiding the use of grape skins and seeds.

What are some possible benefits of red wine?

In the study published this month, mice fed resveratrol had better treadmill endurance than controls. Details are not yet available, but it was noted that the doses were as high as 400 mg/kg body weight, or approximately 10 times what was used in the mouse longevity experiments.

Several reports in 2000 confirmed that wine — in moderation — reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and heart attacks. In the September issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, for instance, Swedish researchers at the Karolinska Institute reported that, compared to teetotalers, light drinkers who consumed wine cut their risk of dying prematurely by almost one third, and wine drinkers as a group had significantly lower mortality from cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Wine also may protect against several forms of another common killer: cancer. It turns out that the same phenolic compounds that lower heart disease risk also may slow the growth of breast cancer cells, according to findings reported by scientists at the University of Crete in Greece in the June 2000 issue of Journal of Cellular Biochemistry. Phenols also were shown to suppress the growth of prostate cancer cells. And French scientists found evidence that an antioxidant in wine called resveratrol can put the brakes on the growth of liver cancer cells, according to a report in the July-August 2000 issue of Oncology Reports.

How much wine would you need to drink to benefit?

In one study, scientists gave the mice a daily dose of 22 milligrams of resveratrol per kilogram of weight, and in another, up to 400 milligrams were given. No one can drink enough red wine to obtain such doses.

You can learn more about Resveratrol:

• You can read more about how much wine is too much at WebMD.

• Click here to read about genetics from the Institute of Molecular Evolutionary Genetics (IMEG) at the Pennsylvania State University.