New medical research from the University of Alberta, Canada indicates that resveratrol may enhance exercise training and performance. Resveratrol is an antioxidant produced by some plants to help protect against environmental stresses. Resveratrol is found in nuts, the skin of red grapes, and although it contains very little of the compound, red wine is also known for containing resveratrol.
Resveratrol is sold as a nutritional supplement, and is derived primarily from Japanese knotweed. There have been reports resveratrol may aid in life extension, decreasing inflammation, lowering blood sugar, cancer prevention, and heart health.1 However, extensive research has not been performed and there is not enough scientific basis to make some of these claims. The recent study on resveratrol and exercise performance was led by Jason Dyck, who is an Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions senior scholar and the director of the Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Alberta.
Dyck and his team discovered that high doses of the natural compound resveratrol improved physical performance, heart function, and muscle strength in lab models. These findings were published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Physiology in late May.2
“We were excited when we saw that resveratrol showed results similar to what you would see from extensive endurance exercise training,” says Dyck, who works in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry as a researcher in the department of Pediatrics and the department of Pharmacology. “We immediately saw the potential for this and thought that we identified ‘improved exercise performance in a pill.’ “3
The findings in this study have resulted in Dyck and his team starting a new ten-week research study on the effects of resveratrol on diabetics with heart failure. The aim of this research is to see if resveratrol can improve heart function for these patients.4
“I think resveratrol could help patient populations who want to exercise but are physically incapable. Resveratrol could mimic exercise for them or improve the benefits of the modest amount of exercise that they can do,” says Dyck. “It is very satisfying to progress from basic research in a lab to testing in people, in a short period of time.”5
Although Dyck’s claim that resveratrol could be ‘improved exercise in a pill’ may be a little exaggerated, it is reassuring to see the potential benefits this naturally occurring compound could possess. Many athletes look for that extra edge that is both legal and safe, especially those whose career depends on performance. Fortunately, resveratrol looks to be a good addition to any athlete’s supplement regimen.6