July 22, 2013
Resveratrol Blocks Beneficial Effects Of Exercise?

Taking resveratrol? Might want to rethink that.

In contrast to earlier studies in animals in which resveratrol improved the cardiovascular benefits of exercise, this study in humans has provided surprising and strong evidence that in older men, resveratrol has the opposite effect.

What is emerging is a new view that antioxidants are not a fix for everything, and that some degree of oxidant stress may be necessary for the body to work correctly. This pivotal study suggests that reactive oxygen species, generally thought of as causing aging and disease, may be a necessary signal that causes healthy adaptations in response to stresses like exercise. So too much of a good thing (like antioxidants in the diet) may actually be detrimental to our health.

Denham Harman, who first formulated the free radical theory of aging in about 1954 (and who is, btw, still alive today at age 97), stated in an interview I read years ago that you can take too much antioxidants. He pointed out that the body uses free radicals for signaling and found out experimenting on himself that too much antioxidants made him sluggish.

Antioxidants prevent the reactive oxygen species generated by intense exercise from signaling the body. The reactive oxygen species might cause muscle growth or vascular growth. Take them away and you don't get the benefits of exercise.

Lasse Gliemann, a PhD student who worked on the study at The University of Copenhagen, explains how they conducted the research, and the results they found: "We studied 27 healthy, physically inactive men around 65 years old for 8 weeks. During the 8 weeks all of the men performed high-intensity exercise training and half of the group received 250 mg of resveratrol daily, whereas the other group received a placebo pill (a pill containing no active ingredient). The study design was double-blinded, thus neither the subjects nor the investigators knew which participant that received either resveratrol or placebo.

"We found that exercise training was highly effective in improving cardiovascular health parameters, but resveratrol supplementation attenuated the positive effects of training on several parameters including blood pressure, plasma lipid concentrations and maximal oxygen uptake."

Cautionary tale.

Will we ever find a way to slow down aging with a pill? Maybe. But by then we'll be much older. What we really need: rejuvenation therapies to turn the clock back. Out with the bad cells in with the good cells. And out with the intracellular and extracellular trash too.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2013 July 22 11:00 PM 

SOBL1 said at July 23, 2013 6:23 AM:

Would it be easier to freeze aging than reverse it? I wouldnt mind if they foud a way to freeze aging and then it would be up to me to get into great shape at whateevr age that was discovered, like 40-50-55. If I could have 50 years at age 50, I could work myself into pretty grat shape to really enjoy those 50 years. Hell, if Geraldo Rivera is ripped at 70, it is doable dammit! If we're going to request fantastical sci-fi pills or treatments, I want the 'soul' saving and then upload into a clone from "The 6th Day".

Tim Hogan said at July 23, 2013 8:53 PM:

I take around 30 grams of turmeric and 20 grams of ginger powder a day along with a few other low cost but known safe herbals and notice over the years that weight lifting to exhaustion never results in pain the next day and muscle mass is very slow to disappear. They are potent inflammatories and antioxidants. I only work out 10 minutes or so every other week. Taking larger amounts of unconcentrated herbs might be a better thing to do than focusing on extracts like curcumin and resveratrol. 30 grams a day of turmeric is cheap and contains around 1.2 grams of curcumin plus other related curcuminoids and oils that probably substantially increase bioavailability and moderate the downside of taking straight curcumin. There are probably a number of "standardized" powder extracts that have resveratrol at around 10%. Less expensive and perhaps more effective especially if bulk powder is purchased.

fb0252 said at July 24, 2013 11:26 AM:

is it maybe a stretch to headline that resveratrol "blocks" the beneficial effects of exercise? article fails to say that nor does the article indicate how much resveratrol "attentuates" the "beneficial" effects. I do 5mph for one hr. treadmill + 1/2 hr. lift weights at age 66 and full regimen of supplements. In my experience exercise related harm from resveratrol is likely minor to completely insignificant. All my measurements have been excellent.

José said at July 27, 2013 5:46 AM:


There is no conceivable scenario in which it is "easier" to "freeze aging" than reverse it. In fact, the former borders on being physically impossible, while the latter only requires removing biochemical damage that has been laid down by metabolism. It might be counter-intuitive, but if you think about it, how would you even go about designing a metabolism that does not produce aging as a side-effect? That's what you'd need to do in order to "freeze" aging. That alone sounds like a job that would require intelligence beyond what is achievable by man, employed in redesigning the genome from the ground up. You couldn't even rely on nature very much for a template, so you would almost be creating life de novo.

Fixing the damage after it's generated but before it accumulates to harmful levels that cause pathology is the only game in town. Any other route is almost inconceivable.

José said at July 27, 2013 5:51 AM:

I just realized my last sentence in the previous post is redundant with the first. That's what happens when you take a break to do something else in the middle of writing a post.

Anyway, I'm past the point of giving up on "ordinary" anti-oxidants doing anything useful. Mitochondrially targeted ones are still interesting, however.

Randall Parker said at July 27, 2013 7:48 PM:


Human metabolism is toxic to human cells (and ditto for all mammalians). Our own metabolism spins off radicals that do damage. Things we are exposed to do damage. Our DNA replication has error rates. Other parts of cellular machinery have error rates. As a result, bad cells and extra-cellular junk accumulates. Therefore stopping aging isn't possible. We need to do frequent repair.

Sam O'neal said at April 19, 2014 1:48 AM:

How can you say that “At no time did resveratrol meaningfully interfere or block the beneficial effects of exercise in this study”? You’re right to say that “Cholesterol and blood pressure measures remained within “optimal” and “desirable” ranges as specified by the American Heart Association,” but that’s beside the point: neither the blog post nor the scientific report claimed that these risk factors worsened on resveratrol — just that resveratrol users didn’t get as much benefit from exercise. People taking resveratrol enjoyed less reduction in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and less reduction in mean arterial (blood) pressure than people who didn’t, and people who exercised without taking resveratrol enjoyed reductions in triglycerides, while those who took resveratrol did not, despite the exercise. Resveratrol users may also possibly have gotten less gain in other factors where there were nominal differences in the results that did not reach statistical significance. Exercise was beneficial in all subjects; it was not as beneficial in resveratrol users, based on the risk factor changes.

Freda Daniels said at February 11, 2015 7:04 AM:

Resveratrol is a polyphenol compound found in certain plants and in red wine that has antioxidant properties and has been investigated for possible anticarcinogenic effects.

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