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Antioxidant Resveratrol May Blunt Some Benefits of Exercise

Antioxidant Resveratrol May Blunt Some Benefits of Exercise

A new study supports previous findings that resveratrol supplementation may block many of the cardiovascular benefits of physical activity.

Resveratrol, found in red wine and the skin of red grapes, is a potent antioxidant that is often touted as an exercise “mimic.” However, new research from Queen's University puts this benefit into question. In a small clinical trial, healthy participants engaged in high-intensity workouts three times per week for four weeks; those who took daily resveratrol supplements experienced fewer benefits from the exercise than participants who took the placebo pill. These findings support a study published in 2013 by researchers at the University of Copenhagen who found resveratrol supplementation blocked exercise benefits in sedentary, but otherwise healthy, older men.

Some of the key biological pathways activated during exercise generate forms of oxygen that readily react with and change many parts of our cells. These forms of oxygen are often considered negatively in theories of biological aging since they can damage proteins and DNA. As it turns out, their role depends on the situation and how they are being used by cells. In exercise, they are critical to conferring many of its benefits. Clues to their beneficial role in human exercise were confirmed by a clinical trial in 2009, which also demonstrated that vitamin C and E supplements, both powerful antioxidants, blunted many benefits of exercise.

Although the antioxidant properties of resveratrol may block some benefits of exercise, resveratrol may still prove helpful by activating Sirtuin 1, a protein that, according to some laboratory studies, may slow the aging process and protect cells from damage.

Photo: Don DeBold

Dr. Penny Dacks was previously the Director of Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Prevention at the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation. She was trained in neuroscience at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, the University of Arizona, and Queen's University (Canada) with individual fellowships from the National Institute of Health, the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Research Foundation, the ARCS Foundation and the Hilda and Preston Davis Foundation. She has authored over 18 peer-reviewed scientific articles and is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the Gerontological Society of America, the Endocrine Society and the Association for Women in Science.

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