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Resveratrol Supplements Are Finally Put to the Test

“If one searches the Internet for anti-aging interventions, a vast array of techniques are offered, from starvation regimes to dietary supplements and growth hormones. All are for sale, but none so far have been proven as the magic bullet, despite exorbitant claims on many of the websites.” Resveratrol is one supplement you’ll likely come across, a component of red wine that gained notoriety as a possible explanation for the so-called French Paradox, which turned out to be not so paradoxical after all (see What Explains the French Paradox?).

As I discuss in my video Resveratrol Impairs Exercise Benefits, it turns out that “[c]ountries with high wine consumption are those in which saturated fat consumption used to be low but increased in recent years.” So, the low mortality from ischemic heart disease may just reflect the earlier, lower levels of saturated fat consumption, and the wine may just be a confounding factor. It did, however, help spark interest in resveratrol, the purported active ingredient of red wine about which scientific papers are now published every day.

More than a hundred of those papers on resveratrol have been called into question, though, as one of the leading researchers in the field was found guilty of taking millions in taxpayer money only to fabricate and falsify his data.

Hundreds of studies still remain, though. Does this mean pills can now replace a healthy diet? Even a group of resveratrol scientists don’t think resveratrol is worth supplementing: “In contrast to the lacking data on resveratrol in humans, the animal data are promising and indicate the need for further human clinical trials.” In rodents, resveratrol supplementation decreased cardiovascular risk factors, improved cardiovascular function and physical capacity, and decreased inflammation, leading to improved vascular function. But, when it was put to the test in people, almost the exact opposite was found.

Specifically, combining resveratrol with athletic training abolished the reduction in blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides normally associated with training; had a more arterial-constricting effect than a dilating effect; “and led to a significantly lower increase in the training-induced increase in maximal oxygen uptake.”

Rodents on resveratrol get enhanced exercise performance, but, in people, the resveratrol induced a 45 percent lower increase in maximum aerobic capacity compared with those taking a sugar pill. The human subjects were working out like crazy, and the resveratrol undercut their efforts.

This raises a larger issue. Mouse models are a cornerstone of modern biomedical research, and yet systematic studies as to their usefulness are rarely done. Consider this: nearly 150 human clinical trials testing anti-inflammatory drugs have failed—without exception—after those same drugs had shown promise in trials on mice. In analyzing the carry-over from the mouse trials to the human trials, researchers determined that “[t]he result was surprising, almost shocking: the correlation was not only poor, it was virtually absent for the main study areas: burns, trauma, endotoxemia.” It turns out, for example, that mice may be up to a million times less sensitive to inflammatory endotoxins than humans.

The takeaway is that the negative effects they found add to the growing body of evidence questioning the positive effects of resveratrol supplementation in humans. Maybe the problem, though, was resveratrol supplementation—that is, giving people capsules containing 50 times the resveratrol they would normally get from eating grapes, berries, peanuts, or chocolate. Was it just too much of a good thing? To see if the amount one gets from drinking red wine would be beneficial, we can look to the Chianti region of Tuscany to determine whether resveratrol levels achieved with diet help protect against inflammation, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and death. The answer? None of the above. Despite the fact that U.S. annual sales of resveratrol supplements have reached $30 million, there are limited and conflicting human clinical data demonstrating any human benefits, and there are no data concerning its long-term safety.

The exercise study was supported in part by a manufacturer of resveratrol supplements. To their credit, however, the researchers responded to an angry letter by a supplement company consultant that “it is our opinion that we, as scientists, have a responsibility to report what we find, and not to twist our findings to fit the commercial interests.”


The benefits of red wine over white do not appear to be due to the resveratrol, but to the estrogen synthase blockers. See Breast Cancer Risk: Red Wine vs. White Wine.

What about the role of red wine in the Mediterranean diet? I have a whole series of videos, including:

I just published a whole new series on alcohol. Check it out:

Sadly, the epic failure of resveratrol supplements is par for the course when it comes to trying to get your nutrition in pill form. See, for example:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


40 responses to “Resveratrol Supplements Are Finally Put to the Test

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  1. I think the whole supplement industry is propped up by Mouse Models.

    That might be why they don’t do systematic reviews very often.

      1. Hi Navy Corpsman, thanks for your question. I found this study regarding your question about studies and what animal model is being used. They concluded “that even the presence of conserved processes is insufficient for inter-species extrapolation when the trait or response being studied is located at higher levels of organization, is in a different module, or is influenced by other modules. However, when the examination of the conserved process occurs at the same level of organization or in the same module, and hence is subject to study solely by reductionism, then extrapolation is possible”.
        Animal models and conserved processes

  2. Watching the “Healing Cancer from the Inside” video, last night, they talked about people getting healed from Cancer without taking supplements.

    It is time for WFPB to be put to the test.

    I don’t even care if it is double blind if they get the results they got with Melanoma.

    Our need for double blind studies in science, being stronger than our need for results is something I would like a systematic review on, because that is the point where studies can start to hinder things.

    I am not talking for drugs.

    Those would need double blind.
    So would supplements.

    But if they can get the results of 100% of Stage 1 and 2 Melanoma cured by WFPB, as long as the sample size is more than 1 person, I am for a results testing of a different type.

    And I get that we are afraid of Placebo effect, but when the success rates are high enough, who cares if it is a multiplied exponentially Superhero version of Placebo effect, which comes with hope and confidence and happiness.

    1. One of their comments in the movie is that they think most of the people who are “cured” using the medical model of treating Cancer are “cured” by the Placebo effect.

      That tells me that Cancer could be a way of doing a systematic review of how powerful Placebo effect really is.

    2. I would be very careful about believing everything that is claimed in YouTube videos Or sensational popular health books for that matter.

      Even where they reference studies, they are often cherry picked to support the claims made in the video or the book. For example, the claim that only 2% of cancer cases are successfully treated by chemo
      https://respectfulinsolence.com/2011/09/16/two-percent-gambit-chemotherapy/
      https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/chemotherapy-doctor-blows-the-whistle/

      Sure you can get testimonials from people who recovered from cancer using natural therapies. Say, 1,000 people try this approach but 990 of them die. However, the other 10 will ascribe their survival to the supposed effectiveness of whatever natural approach they adopted and will go on YouTube to say so.

      And if you are a doctor with a sensational cure protocol, you can use it on 1,000 people. And if 990 of them die, you can still do case studies on the remaining 10 to “prove” how effective your protocol was.

      The fact is that studies consistently show that people who refuse conventional cancer treatment for alternative therapies die earlier on average eg
      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/behindtheheadlines/news/2017-08-16-alternative-cancer-therapies-may-increase-your-risk-of-death/

      1. I understand Tom, but these were doctors.

        John McDougall and T Colon Campbell.

        Eating You Alive, Dr Fuhrman walked people through.

        1. They said that you can’t just throw super foods at Cancer and have it go away.

          People need to also get rid of the animal products and they had the enzyme theory where the enzymes which expose Cancer to the immune system are the same enzymes which digest meat and if they are used to digest the meat, they aren’t available for exposing the Cancer.

          I respect the people in this documentary.

          I also watched What The Health and it is horrifying that we can’t trust the Medical Industry or Food Industry or government to tell us the truth at all.

          1. What makes you think that you can trust the producers of YouTube documentaries to tell us the truth? Anybody can show clips of Campbell etc – it doesn’t mean that those individuals endorse all or even any of the claims in the video.

            YouTube videos are full of falsehoods and inaccurate statements of fact – whether made by people selling stuff online to boost their sales, or by opinionated crackpots. A common tactic they use is to claim that the evidence showing their claims to be false is a lie manufactured by an unholy combination of industry and government.

  3. “It turns out, for example, that mice may be up to a million times less sensitive to inflammatory endotoxins than humans.”

    Humans are missing something important. Vitamin C.
    Mice produce C in relatively large amounts constantly.
    Humans can’t do this anymore. (Lost that ability to a genetic mutation long ago.)

    Need to test with non-C producing mice for a better comparison with humans.

    Vitamin C is minimized by the medical community, perhaps because it could reduce the need for many expensive drugs.

    People that mega-dose C (like most other animals to naturally) gain a lot of interesting advantages. Surprisingly, they don’t get drunk when they drink. Imagine that! C is anti-toxin. Guess what alcohol is …

    1. Does the alcohol still show up on breathalyzrs?

      If I had an alcoholic relative, I might start serving them food with mega foses of Vitamin C.not sure it would work, but getting rid of the sense of being drunk might make it less of a draw.

      Universities could use it to stop people from doing drunken behaviors. Harder to justify that type of thing when you are sober.

    2. Richard Where did you find this little gem “People that mega-dose C (like most other animals to naturally) gain a lot of interesting advantages. Surprisingly, they don’t get drunk when they drink.” ?

      It’s not true.

  4. I was having problems with capt cha all day and can only comment by getting around it.

    If I am banned for something let me know and I will stop going around the defenses.

  5. Your comments page has sunk to a new low.
    I’ve tried to make an entry several times, without success.
    Was it something I said?

      1. Podcast is still banning everybody.

        It was on Autism. My question for the powers that be is have they ever tested the link with Aluminum or Copper or Blood Sugar/Insulin with Autism.

        I probably have to look at the Air Pollution video.

        I am asking, because I have been drinking the Fiji Water and have been supplementing Zinc and I haven’t had hallucinations the past 2 nights.

        I haven’t succeeded as well with the fasting every night yet, but I am aiming for it.

        I just have such poor time management still as part of the Alzheimer’s, that I end up not eating dinner until 9 or 10 at night and I am still not falling asleep until 4 am, so it isn’t sleep and it isn’t sleep apnea.

        Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! I didn’t have hallucinations! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray!

        1. I am laughing, because I intentionally came off the cheese which has the coconut oil in it and am not taking coconut oil or olive oil.

          Happy that I had improvement without the added oils.

          John Robbins did a good talk on Coconut oil yesterday. That it didn’t hurt people who were eating a Plant Based Diet, but it didn’t help the ones who had a lesser diet either.

          I am not gonna take it, unless everything else fails.

          I even threw my container of coconut oil out. If Dr. Barnard can heal Alzheimer’s too and eating less oil will help better with weight loss, I can see what happens over the next year.

          If the hallucinations aren’t completely gone and if my cognitive abilities and time management and sleep cycle hasn’t improved, I can try coconut oil then, right before sleep study.

    1. I am with you about the food.

      Supplements are so expensive and so are Organic foods, but the foods beat the supplements in so many of the tests without the risks.

      I don’t have enough money to do both and food is working better.

  6. Hello!

    I’m currently a stranger named felix, and I have a problem.

    I spend on average 2 hours each day cooking fresh food for my boss and colleagues. My boss places VERY high importance in healthy food and nutrition, but he’s open for suggestions on how we can save time.

    I suggested to him that we could cook all the meals for one or multiple weeks at the same time and then put them in the freezer. This would save me a lot of time to work on other important tasks, but he wants to make sure that this will not make the food less healthy (loss of nutrition).

    I have read your book “how not to die” and also checked out your article about frozen fruit:
    https://nutritionfacts.org/questions/fresh-fruit-versus-frozen-fruit-which-is-better/

    and your video:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=43FoU_U5jhE&t=13s

    A couple questions I have found impossible to get answered are the following:

    – Does prepared food (heated fresh fruits, vegetables and beans) lose nutrients when I put them in the freezer to eat later?

    – Does it matter if I have them in the freezer for just a few days, weeks or even months?

    – Also, will it lose nutrients when I heat the frozen food up again?

    Thank you and I’m looking forward for your answer :)

    1. If you’re going to preserve your meal for several days, you should also pay attention to the methods you’re using for cooking, as most of the nutrients can be lost during the cooking process. If you have concerns about which method to use, check this info that might be helpful as it gives advice about how to preserve nutrients in a better way.

      https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cooking-nutrient-content

      Regarding freezing, that’s an excellent method for nutrient preservation! However, you can experience changes on flavor, texture, color and other organoleptic qualities fo the food, which I think are also important when eating.

      This web from The National Center for Home Food Preservation will be very helpful for you, as it gives you advice about how to frezze different kind of foods, including common fruits, vegetables and beans.

      According to what I’ve been reading, it’s recommended to keep frozen food about 3 – 6 months.

      And finally, the nutrient loss after freezing will depend on the cooking method you choose. So, you probably want to check the first web page I shared. I guess, hydrosoluble vitamins will be the ones at more risk of degradation.

  7. I was just at Food Revolution Summit Facebook and ended up confused about sugar.

    They had a video up about sugar csusing obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

    Dr Barnard says that it isn’t sugar which causes obesity or diabetes and uses a chart where sugar consumption flat lined but obesity and the diseases went through the roof similar to meat and cheese consumption. He pointed to Dr Kempner giving sugar with rices do fruit to Diabetics and they lost 100 pounds and had greatly improved health.

    Another of the speakers is against flour and sugar and I don’t know the rationale, because John McDougall allows even wheat bread, I think and Dr Barnard allows everything except white and wheat.

    Okay, is there a study for sugar causing heart disease or obesity or diabetes or Cancer or is it the lard in the baked goods, like Dr Barnard says?

    I need it to be a study, because my Keto friends use the bad sugar logic.

    I bought date sugar based on it having nutrition, is it better to have none at all? I am not uding it yet, but inquiring minds want to know.

    1. Resveratrol Supplements. I am currently in an NIA double blind study on this supplement. (Was told that no one has ever done a human double blind study) Placebo/75 mg/.100 mg. Do not know which one I got but it is a year long involvment for each particpant and I vaguely remember that 300 people of all ages are particpating. My year is up in early July. Do not know when the paper for this will get published. Study is being done at NIA at Medstar Harbor hospital in Baltimore.

      There was a lot of testing at the beginning of the study including strength testing, FEV, treadmill, and blood ffow velocity. I take 2 pills a day. I have periodically gone in for blood tests.

      If you have any?s, Email me . BTW, I do not drink red wine since I get headaches almod immeadiatley from the wine.

      BTW, great we site and on going updating. Follw your diet reccomendations a lot.

  8. He isn’t While Food Plant Based in his belief system.

    I watched his next series promo vidros and he believes that everybody should trust their own body, which is what my Fodmap and Keto friends believe.

    I am thinking it is more like stretch receptors and pleasure traps and cheese traps.

    I feel like everybody listening to their own body before choosing WFPB is how we end up with America in the first place.

    I get his point that everybody’s gut processes food differently, but the research he was talking about was whether blood sugar spikes or not, but I thought Dr Barnard saying it spikes for a little while, but goes away in a few weeks is what I thought made sense, along with trying go get the good gut bacteria.

    I am doing John’s next series, but I already want to jump and find WFPB and save that type of voice until I am more at my goals.
    I love that he is compassionate and loves plant foods, but I genuinely get confused.

  9. It seems like the stretch receptors are a good example.

    A few people can trust their stretch receptors even if they eat fats.

    Most people get the wrong answer trusting their stretch receptors if they are eating fats and push past the stretch receptors if they are eating addictive foods.

    Sugar would be something people push past their stretch receptors about,
    I.
    Maybe we can just trust our bodies to only eat 5% of meat, but we can’t trust it about dairy and one egg is too much and our bodies don’t warn us.

    I think our bodies not warning us about eggs is all I need.

  10. What grieves me about it is that if I hadn’t spent these past months intentionally trying to be OCD at renewing my mind about nutrition and watching every Dr Greger How Not to Die video and every Cancer and Heart Disease video and videos from Dr Barnard and Pritikin And John McDougall and T Colin Campbell and documentaries like What The Health and Eating You Alive – and Dr Lisle videos…,,

    I needed ALL of them to analyze What just happened.

    I don’t know if you doctors understand that.

  11. I am more than just a little bit upset, because I know that John Robbins is brilliantly over informed at a level where he wouldn’t even know how much his brain would be involved with telling him what to eat.

    His video about his core belief system is that your body might need something which goes against what you know to be healthy and which goes against the research and listen to that inner voice instead of following the science to make your decisions.

    Some people’s bodies tell them to eat lead paint or tells them to have a chocolate addiction and chocolate addiction from being too low in Magnesium is where I started and yes my body had a wisdom for giving me those cravings, but it didn’t warn me I was craving something dangerous.

  12. I just realized that I got rid of sugar and flour almost all last year and didn’t lose a pound.

    I got rid of milk and cheese and started losing.

    It is only the claims about heart disease that I need a study on.

  13. I watched more videos from more people tonight and feel like I am understanding it better.

    I feel like I broke through mentally a little bit.

    It might be placebo effect or I watched enough videos and read enough blogs so that I am capable of going further in the process.

    In some ways, I almost feel like I am just going to keep swapping one thing at a time.

    Today, we had a Memorial Day party and I was asked to bring a casserole and I made two. One was vegan and that was the one, which was eaten, because nobody could look at it and tell the difference. The other one is getting thrown out.

  14. Resveratrol Supplements. I am currently in an NIA double blind study on this supplement. (Was told that no one has ever done a human double blind study) Placebo/75 mg/.100 mg. Do not know which one I got but it is a year long involvment for each particpant and I vaguely remember that 300 people of all ages are particpating. My year is up in early July. Do not know when the paper for this will get published. Study is being done at NIA at Medstar Harbor hospital in Baltimore.

    There was a lot of testing at the beginning of the study including strength testing, FEV, treadmill, and blood ffow velocity. I take 2 pills a day. I have periodically gone in for blood tests.

    If you have any?s, Email me BTW, I do not drink red wine since I get headaches almod immeadiatley from the wine.

    BTW, great web site and on going updating. Follow your diet reccomendations a lot.

  15. Dr. Greger, The very sweet-voiced woman from Plant Based Science London called you wrong about B12, using Dr. Klapers logic.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ew93c8-WFIk

    He says that some people can’t methylate properly.

    I have tried to post my version of your B12 answers, but I will say that your B-12 section I think is missing some tags, because the dosage ones were hard to find. Was it you who said that the Methyl Prefix needs to be removed and then another Methyl gets put on?

    Or did I get that from someone else?

    Anyway, I might double and triple ponder everything you say, but I didn’t like her posting you as wrong without you getting a rebuttal.

  16. “Rodents on resveratrol get enhanced exercise performance, but, in people, the resveratrol induced a 45 percent lower increase in maximum aerobic capacity compared with those taking a sugar pill. The human subjects were working out like crazy, and the resveratrol undercut their efforts.”

    I have a problem with the confusing wording in the above paragraph… specifically, the part that says “in people, the resveratrol induced a 45 percent lower increase in maximum aerobic capacity compared with those taking a sugar pill.”

    So, if the increase was only 55% in maximum aerobic capacity, isn’t that a statistically important improvement?… and an improvement without having to consume sugar? (Maybe that’s why athletes eat candy during a performance?)

    I have to say this appears to be twisting the results by obfuscating what the outcome really is. I’ll continue on resveratrol plus pterostilbene.

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