A popular supplement made from a component of red wine may not be beneficial after all – at least if you’re healthy to start with.
That’s according to a new study out of Washington University – the first to test the potential benefits of resveratrol in healthy people.
Researchers gave a small group of relatively healthy, post-menopausal women resveratrol for 12 weeks, and compared their metabolism of sugar and fat to that of a control group. They found no significant differences.
Washington University nutrition researcher Dr. Samuel Klein says the dose – 75 mg – was equivalent to drinking eight liters of wine a day. “That’s a lot of wine!” Klein said.
But Klein says the study doesn’t mean red wine itself has no health benefits.
“It just means that resveratrol itself, given in these conditions, 12 weeks, to relatively metabolically healthy people, does not have any evidence of metabolic benefits,” Klein said.
Resveratrol has been shown to improve blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of heart disease in animal studies, but limited human trials have had mixed results.
Klein cautions that the results of this study can’t be applied to obese people, or those with diabetes.
“Our study was really evaluating women who are relatively metabolically normal,” Klein said. “So we can’t say anything about resveratrol’s effects in people who have more serious metabolic abnormalities. And those studies really need to continue to be done to really evaluate the full potential, or lack of potential, of resveratrol supplementation.”
Even with little data on resveratrol’s health benefits to people, U.S. sales of the supplement exceed $30 million a year.
Follow Véronique LaCapra on Twitter: @KWMUScience