Posted: 30 Oct 2014 08:00 AM PDT
Propelled to fame as a result of a multitude of studies investigating the phytochemical properties of plant materials, resveratrol more than lives up to its reputation. This very unique antioxidant has been called a fountain of youth for its effectiveness against a variety of age-related diseases. In this post, we're going to explore 7 reasons why you should get it regularly from your diet.
1. What Is It?
Resveratrol is a phenolic compound, a stilbene, created by plants in response to injury, infection, and fungal attack. It exists in two forms, the trans- and cis- molecule forms, with trans-resveratrol being the highly-absorbable form. The compound is regarded as having powerful antioxidant effects, thereby supporting health at the cellular level.
2. Unique Antioxidant
Unlike other antioxidants, resveratrol crosses the blood-brain barrier, offering support for the brain and nervous system. This allows for positive, direct support for neural health. A recent placebo-controlled study of 23 older adults observed significant improvements in memory among participants taking resveratrol, with the additional benefit of improved glucose metabolism. 
3. Mimics Caloric Restriction
Reducing calories by 30% supports health and longevity by stimulating low-level biological stressors. Resveratrol stimulates the creation of adiponectin, the same hormone observed to increase in individuals practicing caloric restriction.  This hormone promotes metabolic and cardiovascular health through weight loss, lipid metabolism, and the regulation of blood sugar levels. Although the long-term effects of caloric restriction in humans continues to be evaluated, it has shown to advance longevity by 40% or more in some species.
4. Suppresses Inflammation
Numerous studies have noted resveratrol's ability to reduce oxidative stress from free radical damage. One 2011 placebo-controlled study evaluated the response of 20 human volunteers (10 in each group) to resveratrol and placebo over 6 weeks of treatment. Those in the test group enjoyed reduced oxidative stress and lower levels of inflammation commonly associated with numerous age-related diseases. 
5. Increases Testosterone Levels in Men
Research indicates resveratrol positively affects fertility and reproductive function in men. One study using animal models reported increased blood testosterone levels in supplemented groups.  While this is good news for men of reproductive age, older men could possibly benefit as well. Testosterone strengthens bones, increases muscle mass, and encourages a positive outlook in men.
6. Positive Effects on Estrogen Levels
Women who consume resveratrol appear to enjoy their own benefits. A study of 34 postmenopausal women taking 1 gram of resveratrol daily for 12 weeks reported improvements in estrogen metabolism and an increase of SHBG (steroid hormone binding globulin).  SHBG enables the body to make better use of the availability of sex hormones already present. In essence, this study suggests resveratrol may support hormone balance.
7. Sources of Resveratrol
Major dietary sources include red wine, chocolate, grapes, and peanuts. Unfortunately, only 25% of resveratrol from dietary sources is bioavailable due to its quick metabolizing rate.  Supplements may offer more concentrated values, making a greater amount of this anti-aging antioxidant available to cells.
What are your thoughts on resveratrol? Do you take antioxidant supplements? Please let us know your opinions in the comments!
-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
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