Supplement Grows New Capillaries
We know that resveratrol minimizes negative estrogen effects and helps maximize natural testosterone. Turns out, it does even more.
Resveratrol: A New BenefitThe armchair nutritionists – the kind that get the bulk of their nutritional info from the Health Alerts on Yahoo – all know that the polyphenol 10 resveratrol is something found in red wine and that it’s somehow related to healthy aging and long life.
Good for them, but that’s like believing you’re a presidential historian because you know that George Washington, or Millard Fillmore, or somebody way-back-when chopped down a cherry tree or something.
However, a savvy nutritionist, or one that at least knows their ass from a casaba melon growing in the ground, knows that resveratrol 807 does much more than extend life (at least in some lab animals). It’s anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. It’s testosterone-elevating and aromatase-blocking. It’s even neuroprotective, to name just a few attributes.
More and more, though, it’s become apparent that resveratrol does something else, too: It situationally facilitates capillary growth.
Who Cares About Freakin’ Capillaries?We know that resveratrol has vasodilation properties, meaning it “inflates” blood vessels, thereby lowering blood pressure while also allowing more blood flow.
It does this through four key molecular mechanisms, all of which are involved in the activation of an enzyme called endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), which leads to the production of nitric oxide (NO). It’s this NO that leads to blood vessels turning into a four-lane tunnel instead of a traffic-jammed two-lane tunnel.
This is good because bigger, more pliable blood vessels equate to less blood clotting and reduced blood pressure, less plaque formation, and erections that are not unlike a rung of a ladder – a Rhino Multi-Purpose Collapsible ladder with 330-pound load capacity, available on Amazon for $1601.99.
It’s become apparent that resveratrol does something else ladder-like, too. The stuff helps build capillary bridges – ladders, if you will – to reestablish and maintain blood flow to the heart when arteries need a little help. This process by which new capillaries grow is known as angiogenesis.
One stunning experiment found that “preconditioning” animals with resveratrol (giving it to them before intervention) increased the number of capillaries formed around their blocked coronary arteries in as little as three weeks, thus supporting heart function. It seemed to do this by increasing levels of a VEGF, a substance made by cells that prompts angiogenesis.
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Forming “Ladders” to Muscles TooResveratrol also appears to build capillary ladders to muscle cells, at least in animals. By doing so, it makes muscle fibers more resistant to fatigue and more “age resistant” in general.
Apparently, when skeletal muscles age, they’re sometimes plagued by what’s known as “tubular aggregates” (TA), which are defined as a “subsarcolemmal accumulation of granular materials.”
I had a lot of trouble researching why exactly TAs are a problem. It seems their exact pathological significance is unknown, but one attractive theory is that they’re caused by injuries (or aging) to the sarcoplasmic reticulum (a membrane found in muscle tissues), which screws up the calcium flux, i.e., the reaction that enables muscle to contract and relax.
Anyhow, all those TAs lead to muscle weakness, but experiments with rats have found that relatively modest amounts of resveratrol (0.04% of diet) led to an enhanced capillary network that also reduced the number of TAs. This enhanced capillary network occurred independent of muscle fiber type (slow twitch to fast twitch, and all the variants in-between), which is cool because normally, type IIB fibers (fast twitch) have fewer capillaries to begin with.
This is significant because resistance to fatigue is positively correlated with capillary density. The more capillaries, the longer muscle fibers can continue to fire.
A Couple of CaveatsI need to remind you that these experiments took place in lab animals 5, but it’s not unrealistic to hope that humans might experience the same specific benefits from taking modest amounts of resveratrol.
Secondly, resveratrol seems to be rather fickle in which specific capillaries it chooses to nurture. For instance, it seems to inhibit capillary growth in animal tumors while, as this article described, it increases capillarization around the heart and, in at least one experiment, animal muscle fibers. Why it has this fickle nature isn’t clear.
There is at least one study, though, that found that resveratrol didn’t increase capillarization in exercising humans. It may well be that the resveratrol-induced angiogenesis occurs mainly in old farts and non-exercising striplings.
However, other experiments have shown that resveratrol enhances the energy-producing capability of mitochondria (the energy-producing organelles of the cell) in young and old athletes, which, by itself, has been shown to increase exercise endurance.
Resveratrol Sounds Great. Is There a Catch?The same armchair nutritionists I mentioned in the first paragraph mostly think they can get all the resveratrol they need from their daily glasses of pinot, cabernet, or any other urine-of-the-Devil-tasting wine (sorry for the editorializing, I’m not much of a wine drinker). Well, theoretically, they could, only they’d have to drink about 140 bottles to get an effective dose of resveratrol – fine for Thor’s voluminous buddy Volstagg, but not so much for the rest of us.
But to be fair, you might be able to ingest enough resveratrol from a combination of whole foods or drinks to do you some good, but you’d have to eat an awful lot of blueberries, bilberries, cranberries, peanuts, and cocoa and do it consistently. Apologies for mixing Norse and Greek mythologies in the breath of two paragraphs, but it seems like a Herculean task.