Nutrition Notes

Resveratrol to Support Cognition and Healthy Aging

Resveratrol (trans-3,4’,5 trihydroxystilbene) is a polyphenolic molecule found in grape skin, berries (such as blueberries and raspberries), and peanuts. It is known for its role in supporting a healthy response to oxidative stress and inflammation and its support of cardiovascular and metabolic functions within the human body

Studies indicate that resveratrol may support many biological pathways associated with the aging process, oxidative stress, and the inflammatory response. Resveratrol has been shown to activate sirtuin-1, help the body’s response to oxidative stress, increase hippocampal neurogenesis, and inhibit amyloid-beta expression. An animal study involving the administration of resveratrol observed attenuation of the progression of amyloid-beta in the cortex and modulation of adenosine monophosphate (AMP)-activated protein kinase (AMPK). Resveratrol has been shown in animal and laboratory studies to influence pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, IL-17, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α). 

Resveratrol supports many of the body’s systems in the presence of age-related changes. A crossover study involved daily supplementation of 125 mg of resveratrol in postmenopausal women and found a significant 33% improvement in overall cognitive performance in the treatment group as compared to a placebo. The study also reported improvements in cerebrovascular function and improved verbal memory in women aged 65 years and older. 

A randomized year-long clinical trial involved 119 individuals with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s disease. The study began with 500 mg of daily supplementation with resveratrol; dosing increased by 500 mg increments every 13 weeks up to 1,000 mg twice daily. Resveratrol was observed to cross the blood-brain barrier. At week 52, declines in Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study Activities of Daily Living Scale were attenuated in the treatment group as compared to a placebo. 

A randomized placebo-controlled trial evaluated the efficacy of resveratrol supplementation on bone health in postmenopausal women without overt osteoporosis. After 12 months of daily supplementation with 150 mg of resveratrol, improvements in bone density, T-scores, and hip fracture risk were reported as compared to a placebo. Resveratrol may also support skin health and age-related skin changes. It has been shown in studies to improve elasticity, moisture content, total wrinkled area, and total wrinkle volume. 

Resveratrol may also support gut health and a healthy gut microbiome. Supplementation with resveratrol has been shown in animal studies to increase the abundance of the beneficial bacteria of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. Another animal study reported that relief in colitis symptoms occurred while supplementing with resveratrol, which may be attributed to observed improvements in microbial dysbiosis and inflammatory markers, including IL-6 and IL-17. Resveratrol has also been shown to influence the Firmicutes-to-Bacteroidetes (F/B) ratio. Higher F/B ratios have been linked to increases in the occurrence of certain diseases. 

While more research is needed, particularly in human populations, studies indicate that resveratrol may support human health through many biological pathways. It may support healthy aging, cognitive function, and gastrointestinal health. 

By Colleen Ambrose, ND, MAT