Resveratrol – the small molecule with big antiaging ideas

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When it comes to antiaging molecules, we can learn a thing or two from plants.

As so often in natural world, plants have a few clever tricks up their proverbial sleeves. One such trick is resveratrol, a natural polyphenol and phytoalexin that plants produce as a response to an injury or to defend themselves from an attack by pathogens, such as bacteria or fungi.

Humans get resveratrol from their diet; top sources of foods that contain resveratrol include grapes, berries, peanuts and, of course, red wine, mainly in the skins and seeds of grapes which are included as part of the fermentation process in wine making. Other sources of resveratrol include pistachios, blueberries, cranberries and cocoa and dark chocolate. One potent source of resveratrol is Japanese knotweed, and the plant’s native name, 虎杖 or itadori means pain remover and explains its long history of medicinal use.

Longevity.Technology sponsored content: Resveratrol is becoming a popular antiaging supplement; in fact, perhaps a better name for it would be reversatrol as it has shown it can extend lifespan in several lab studies. Resveratrol also demonstrates anti-inflammatory and anticarcinogenic properties, and can lower blood pressure, improve heart health and boost cognition. We caught up with with Max Cerquetti, the Co-founder of Nutriop which markets Bio-Enhanced Nutriop Resveratrol with Pure Quercetin to find out more about this nifty molecule and what it could mean for longevity.

Not all resveratrol molecules are created equal. In fact, resveratrol comes in two forms, trans-resveratrol and cis-resveratrol.

“Most of the key health benefits are unlocked by trans-resveratrol,” explains Cerquetti. “Although resveratrol exists in many plants, trans-resveratrol is much more elusive. Resveratrol extracted by grapes or red wine, for example, may only contain 5-10% trans-resveratrol purity. On the other hand, Polygonum cuspidatum, or Japanese knotweed, contains 99% pure trans-resveratrol.

Resveratrol – the small molecule with big antiaging ideas

“In addition to being more potent, safer, and higher quality, the trans-resveratrol extracted from Polygonum cuspidatum is considerably cheaper than that extracted by grapes, as grapes have a comparatively high price. For Nutriop, the choice was obvious. With Polygonum cuspidatum extract, we were able to deliver a combination of potency and affordability.”

Resveratrol activates a family of enzymes called sirtuins; it activates the protein deacetylase sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) gene, which scientists think mediates anti-inflammatory activity [1]. Inflammation is a vital part of the immune system, but too much can cause damage that stresses cells and accelerates the aging process. Activating sirtuins also improves insulin resistance and modulates blood glucose levels, mitigate the development of diabetic complications.

Resveratrol is gaining popularity – even Dr David Sinclair takes it – partly due to its ability to act as an antioxidant agent; antioxidants work by preventing or slowing damage to cells caused by free radicals [2].

“Free radicals are unstable molecules produced by the body as a reaction to environmental and other pressures,” Cerquetti explains. “Resveratrol can scavenge these molecules reducing the damage they do, and, in theory, over time, this can reduce the progress of aging.”

Resveratrol’s ability to scavenge free radicals can also benefit skin as oxidative stress is one of the major causes of skin aging. As well as hoovering up free radicals, resveratrol also has an ability to spark the production of other antioxidants which provide further protection to the skin.

It also has phytoestrogenic properties and can help to arrest the decline of collagen and skin elasticity as we age. It can also inhibit tyrosinase, a vital enzyme in the pigment melanin biosynthesis, and helps to smooth out irregular pigmentation in your skin leading towards a fresher and more youthful look.

Some studies suggest resveratrol can be effective in reducing the risk of heart disease, bringing down blood pressure by lessening the pressure on blood vessel walls when blood pumps and also having a positive impact on blood fats, reducing cholesterol by reducing the impact of an enzyme which controls cholesterol production.

Resveratrol acts on the head as well as the heart – research indicates that it can have an impact on cognitive decline, decreasing amyloid plaque formation in mice.

Nutriop have also added quercetin to their supplement to increase trans-resveratrol bioavailability and boost the molecular effects on triacylglycerol metabolism.

“The research into resveratrol is increasing, with nearly 1500 studies last year alone,” says Cerquetti. “It’s demonstrated neuroprotective qualities, defence against atherosclerosis and slowing damage from aging in numerous studies, and I’m sure there are many additional benefits waiting to be discovered. Perhaps nature really does know best!”

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[1] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17956190/
[2] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10824865/

Eleanor Garth
Deputy Editor Now a science and medicine journalist, Eleanor worked as a consultant for university spin-out companies and provided research support at Imperial College London and various London hospitals in a former life.

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