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Resveratrol Good But Pterostilbene Better for Brain Function


The popular resveratrol—the antioxidant found in red wine—and its possible role in boosting brain function, has a rival, and it’s called pterostilbene. This chemical cousin of resveratrol has been shown to be superior for brain function, asthma, and cancer.

Keep your eye on pterostilbene

Several recent studies have highlighted the benefits of pterostilbene over resveratrol, although the latter phytonutrient (plant nutrient) is no slacker. In one mouse study, scientists explored the effectiveness of the two nutrients achievable in diet when looking at cognition and pathology for Alzheimer’s disease.

Their comparison showed that given equivalent and diet-achievable doses of resveratrol and pterostilbene (equal to 2 glasses of wine), the latter had a more potent effect on cognition and cellular stress, which is a marker for Alzheimer’s disease. The scientists concluded that “While it is yet to be determined whether the cognitive improvements induced by pterostilbene in [this mouse] model can be applied to humans, recent reports demonstrate that fruits containing pterostilbene such as blueberries ameliorate cognitive function in aged humans.”

A second study, also done with mice, looked at resveratrol only and its impact on cognitive function. The researchers reported that resveratrol appeared to increase production of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I) via stimulation of sensory neurons in the gastrointestinal tract, which in turn improves cognitive function. What’s the gut-brain connection? IGF-I reportedly promotes the growth of blood vessels and neurons in the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved with memory forming and storage.

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In one of the few studies ever done with resveratrol and humans, 22 healthy adults were given placebo and two doses of resveratrol in counterbalanced order on separate days. After each dose, the subjects performed various cognitive tasks. Cerebral blood flow increased during the tasks when the subjects took resveratrol, as well as possible better use of oxygen. However, cognitive function was not affected.

Pterostilbene is a type of phytonutrient called a stilbenoid, a substance that plants make in response to infectious attacks. This ability is believed to be at least partly responsible for the ability of pterostilbene and other stilbenoids (such as resveratrol) to provide healing benefits.

Although much research concerning the benefits of resveratrol and pterostilbene needs to be done, especially in humans, new study results indicate pterostilbene may have a leg up on resveratrol when it comes to brain function.

Chang J et al. Neurobiology of Aging 2011; doi: 10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.08.015
Harada N et al. Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 2011 Dec; 22(12): 1150-59
Kennedy DO et al. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2010 Jun; 91(6): 1590-97
McCormick D, McFadden D. Journal of Surgical Research 2011 Oct 21

Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons



Resveratrol does not increase IGF-1 at all. In fact it suppresses it. Please do some more homework before you post false information.
Thank you for your comment. However, I did do my homework: see the study in which researchers reported that resveratrol increased production of IGF-1: http://www.jnutbio.com/article/S0955-2863%2810%2900245-7/abstract This is one of the studies listed in my sources.