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Be careful what you say about resveratrol

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A new study shows that resveratrol has fat-fighting potential. But more research is needed before you can sell customers on this benefit.

Resveratrol has been called a fountain of youth. It's known as heart healthy. And now there may be another reason to celebrate this antioxidant powerhouse found in red wine. A new study published in Nutrition and Metabolism showed that a daily dose of resveratrol may reduce body fat levels by preventing the formation of fat tissue.

Here's how researchers discovered the good news: Rats fed an obesity-inducing diet were divided into two groups. Half took 30 mg of resveratrol per kilogram body weight per day and the other half took nothing. After six weeks, rodents taking the supplements had less body fat than non-supplemented animals, despite both groups having similar body weights.

So is it OK to tell customers visiting your store that resveratrol supplements can fight fat?

Not so fast.

Technically using the words "fight fat" is legal under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. The phrase is a structure/function claim "because fat is not abnormal nor a disease," according to Steve Taormina, standards director for Boulder, Colo.-based New Hope Natural Media. (Remember: A dietary supplement can't "diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease." Only drugs can do that.)

But using the words "fight fat" to describe resveratrol is deceptive. "A study on 16 rats does not provide any scientific support that resveratrol reduces, or fights, fat in humans," Taormina explains.

The bottom line: Resveratrol holds plenty of promise. New research that supports this antioxidant seems to come out every day. And sales of products containing resveratrol spiked 31 percent in the natural channel and 71 percent in the food, drug and mass channel between August 2009 and August 2010, according to the Schaumburg, Ill.-based market research firm SPINS. Still, you should not mislead customers based on this one Nutrition and Metabolism study.

 

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