Resveratrol, a compound found in peanuts, red grapes, some red wines, raspberries, and dark chocolate, is no stranger to the world of research on cognitive function: resveratrol supplements have previously been linked to improved memory function in older adults. Now, findings from another study suggest that resveratrol supplements may slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease. The study, published in the journal Neurology, randomly divided 119 individuals with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease into two groups: the first group was put on a resveratrol supplement regimen, while the second group was given a placebo. Beginning with a daily dose of 500 mg, the resveratrol group increased their daily dose by 500 mg every 13 weeks, until they were receiving 1,000 mg of resveratrol twice daily. Researchers performed MRI brain scans, blood, and cerebrospinal fluid tests at baseline and at the end of treatment, as well as assessments of cognitive function and ability to perform daily tasks. A comprehensive panel of tests was performed on a subset of 15 of the participants, on five occasions during the study, to provide information about how resveratrol is absorbed and used in the body. After one year, here's what the researchers found:
The resveratrol group showed little to no change in certain markers involved in the nerve damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease, while these markers decreased in the placebo group. These particular markers are known to decrease as dementia worsens and Alzheimer’s disease progresses.
Brain volumes decreased more in the resveratrol group than in the placebo group—researchers think this might indicate that the resveratrol group had a reduction in brain inflammation, a symptom of Alzheimer's disease.
People in the resveratrol group had slight improvements in their ability to perform daily tasks such as bathing and dressing themselves.
This study’s findings indicate that resveratrol supplements may alter some important aspects of Alzheimer's disease progression. However, more research is needed to understand the overall health benefits of resveratrol supplements for people with Alzheimer's disease. It’s also important to note that while resveratrol does occur naturally in foods, it would be impossible to replicate the daily doses used in this study—equivalent to the amount of resveratrol found in about 1,000 bottles of red wine—with food alone. In addition, high-dose supplements containing the type of resveratrol used in this study aren't commercially available.