As I implied in an earlier discussion of resveratrol, the increasingly compelling data on this compound has encouraged me to do a little bit of research about taking it myself, as a dietary supplement (supplementary, that is, to what I already get as part of a wine-rich lifestyle).

I’m currently in the homework/due diligence phase, considering issues of price and purity as I look around for a source that I can (a) afford and (b) have some objective reason to trust.

As a pure compound, resveratrol is prohibitively expensive. As an unregulated “nutraceutical,” however, it’s still costly (~$450 per annum), but of uncertain potency. None of the commercial suppliers I can find are straightforward about how many mg of resveratrol their products contain. Even among the more reputable-seeming and less fly-by-night vendors, there tends to be a lot of misleading indirection on the labels — take, for instance, the label for Revatrol:

revatrol label

How much resveratrol is in one caplet? Not 400 mg, to be sure, but that’s not very helpful, and it seems like the vendor is taking pains to avoid making a statement that they can be held to (e.g., the knotweed extract might be 15% resveratrol, but it’s not clear what proportion of the proprietary mix is knotweed extract, so what looks deceptively like data is really just a meaningless number).

Several of the other plant-derived compounds quoted on the label are also potent anti-oxidants, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that a big part of resveratrol’s activity is via activation of sirtuins, and that the antioxidant properties are either significantly less important or a complete red herring — so I’m not terribly impressed by those.

Given that the current literature is focusing on resveratrol explicitly, I’d like to see a commercial supplier take the plunge and do some analytical chemistry on their own product, establishing once and for all how much resveratrol is contained in each dose — and then standing by it for all time, ideally with the assay results for each lot to be shipped along with every bottle.

Because I’m willing to make myself a guinea pig, but not a chump.

Has anyone else looked into these supplements? I looked at four or five different suppliers; while I liked Revatrol the most, I still wasn’t sold. If you have done any thinking or research about this, please leave a comment. Let us know how you evaluated different products and (if you got that far) how you made your choice. (If you’re affiliated with or are taking money from a supplier, please opt yourself out. I’ll just expose and mock you, and no one wants that.)