Resveratrol is a natural chemical compound found in grapes, red wine, and other foods. As a supplement, resveratrol has been promoted as a treatment for many conditions -- including aging itself.
Why do people take resveratrol?
Researchers have long believed that substances in red wine might have health benefits. Drinking red wine is associated with a lower risk of heart disease and some cancers. Beginning in the 1990s, experts began to focus on resveratrol, an antioxidant compound in red wine. Since then, some animal and lab studies have shown that resveratrol has promising antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer effects.
However, resveratrol supplements have not been well studied in people. We don't really know what benefits and risks they might have. We also don't know if resveratrol is necessarily more important than some of the other natural substances in wine.
Nonetheless, resveratrol has become a popular supplement. People use it for many different conditions. Some take resveratrol supplements to prevent or treat serious diseases, like cancer or heart disease. Others hope that they will slow the aging process. For now, these uses are unsupported by evidence.
How much resveratrol should you take?
Resveratrol is an unproven treatment and there is no standard dose. Some estimates of doses come from preliminary research studies. Ask your doctor for advice.
Can you get resveratrol naturally from foods?
Resveratrol occurs naturally in red wine, red grape skins, grape juice, peanuts, mulberries, and some Chinese herbs.
Some people wonder if they should drink more red wine because of the possible health benefits of resveratrol. However, most experts and organizations like the American Heart Association still suggest only one alcoholic drink per day for women and two for men. Excessive alcohol intake has serious health risks.
What are the risks of taking resveratrol?
- Side effects. Although the evidence is limited, resveratrol supplements seem to be fairly safe in people. They could cause a reaction in those who are allergic to grapes or wine.
- Risks. People who have health conditions like bleeding disorders should not take resveratrol without talking to a doctor first. Women who have hormone-sensitive conditions -- like endometriosis or cancers of the breast, ovaries, or uterus -- must get medical advice before using resveratrol supplements.
- Interactions. If you take any medicines or other supplements regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using resveratrol supplements. They could interact with medicines like blood thinners, blood pressure drugs, cancer treatments, MAOI antidepressants, antiviral and antifungal medicines, NSAID painkillers, and supplements like St. John's wort, garlic, and ginkgo.
Given the lack of evidence about their safety, resveratrol supplements are not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.