What is Trans-Resveratrol?

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  • Written By: Melanie Smeltzer
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 28 January 2019
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Trans-resveratrol is the active form of resveratrol polyphenols — a potent antioxidant — that can be found in a number of berries and peanuts but is most commonly culled from red grape skins, pulp and stems. These natural compounds need to be protected from overexposure to oxygen and direct light to remain effective. Some studies have shown that what makes them so effective is their believed ability to augment cellular productivity, which is said to increase life span, diminish the appearance of aging, fight cancer and burn fat.

Resveratrol is a naturally occurring phytoalexin that is produced when a plant is being attacked by fungi or bacteria. The effects of these compounds are similar to antibiotics and help to defend the plant against the invading pathogens. These compounds can be found in red grapes, purple grape juice, wine, certain berries and peanuts. During the extraction process, these compounds are often concentrated to include most of the active trans-resveratrol components.


During the early 1990s, resveratrol became famous because of what is known as the "French paradox" — the idea that although many people in that region follow a high-fat diet, relatively few suffer from heart disease. This observation led to the conviction, and subsequent research, that this was the result of the nation's consumption of red wine. It has been discovered since the 1990s that the trans-resveratrol contained in red wine may offer a plethora of health benefits. For instance, it is thought to be a powerful antioxidant that can help hinder the damage of free radicals, lower the risk of heart disease by increasing high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and boosting energy by increasing the number of mitochondria.

Red wine has long been a favorite way of consuming these compounds; however, it contains only a very small amount of active trans-resveratrol. This has led many people to turn to dietary supplements, usually in pill or liquid form and each with its own pros and cons. For instance, the pill form is convenient but is thought to be less effective, because trans-resveratrol is quick to metabolize, which gives it less time to fully absorb in the body. On the other hand, the liquid form may absorb at a much faster rate but is far less convenient.

Although trans-resveratrol is thought to be highly beneficial for health, it is not without its downside. Some side effects of consuming a resveratrol concentration may include stomach cramps, diarrhea, dizziness and an increased risk of bleeding during surgical procedures. Some note, however, that these side effects generally occur when taking inferior supplements or large doses.



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