Grape Seed Extract: Versatile and Valued Antioxidant

By Dr. Linda J. Dobberstein, DC, Board Certified in Clinical Nutrition

November 25, 2019

Grape Seed Extract: Versatile and Valued Antioxidant
Grape seed extract performs multiple protective acts as an antioxidant. Commonly recognized for its support for connective tissue, this little gem of nature benefits numerous tissues and functions throughout the body. Other nutrients may grab the limelight of popularity, but grape seed extract stands firm with many benefits. Because of this versatility and value, grape seed extract is one of my personal favorite nutrients. Here are some recent research highlights.

Collagen and Soft Tissues

Researchers first identified grape seed extract in 1947 and referred to it as vitamin P. Today we know it as a type of polyphenol and an oligomeric proanthocyanidin (OPC) antioxidant. Polyphenols are micronutrients that function as antioxidants and are obtained from various fruits and vegetables. In the case of grape seed extract, the polyphenols or OPCs comes from the seed of red grapes. It is well-known as a powerful antioxidant and for connective tissue support.

Grape seed extract has a high affinity for collagen of many different types. It readily binds onto, protects and strengthens collagen tissues found in soft tissue like muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. It even helps support dental mineralization and bone strengthGrape seed extract is sought after for its antioxidant protection and structural support.

Blood Vessel Lining, Blood Brain Barrier and Leptin

One major benefit of grape seed extract pertains to relaxation of blood vessels and support of the endothelial lining. Inside blood vessels is a one-cell-thick layer of cells called the endothelium. This lining is found throughout the circulatory system, but also in the chambers of the heart, lymphatic vessels, liver, kidneys, lungs, bones, sinuses, gut, and spleen, etc. This layer of cells is like a layer of Teflon lining vessels. It allows the passage of fluids like blood to move swiftly without getting stuck in a crack.

It is essential to help relaxation and protection of the endothelial lining of blood vessels from stress for healthy cholesterol, homocysteine, and blood pressure. Injury to the endothelial lining makes the inside of the blood vessels tighter, jagged and rough which can affect the normal flow of blood and cholesterol. The benefits of grape seed extract go beyond this.

Cutting-edge recent research demonstrated that grape seed extract provides antioxidant support to the endothelial (inner) lining of the capillaries in the blood brain barrier. This cellular study took things to another level with evaluation of leptin transport across the blood brain barrier.

This is of great interest as inflammatory immune cells injure the blood brain barrier which compromises transport of leptin into the brain. This process contributes to obesity and leptin resistance. This unique study provided initial findings that grape seed extract and other polyphenol compounds like resveratrol may be helpful in modulating the blood brain barrier for protection against the leptin-obesity-inflammation cycle.

Cholesterol, Blood Sugar and Body Clocks in the Liver

In a different view on grape seed extract benefits, new research reveals some interesting effects pertaining to body clocks, metabolism, and energy dynamics in the liver. Body clocks are fundamental to normal physiology and metabolism. Just like if the clock in your car runs slow or fast, it throws you off with your daily schedule. This same principle applies to the circadian clocks found throughout your body. The brain has the master clock, but each organ has its own clock including the liver.

The cellular clocks found in the liver greatly impact the rate of cholesterol and blood sugar metabolism. Grape seed extract helps to modulate the circadian clocks within the liver which may explain its natural support for cholesterol and blood sugar metabolism.

Meal timing and sunlight set internal clocks, so skipping meals like breakfast shifts the normal circadian rhythm in tissues. This affects the natural rhythm of insulin, blood sugar, cholesterol, and bile acids. Following The Leptin Diet with three meals per day at regular times along with taking polyphenols like grape seed extract can aid in resetting your liver’s circadian clock.

You may learn more about the fascinating topic of body clocks and metabolism in these articles.

Body Clocks and Weight Management – It’s All About Timing

Disrupted Gut Clocks Linked with IBS, GERD, Obesity, and Other GI Concerns

Get Back in Sync and Sleep Better in 7 Days

Anti-Aging Benefits

Another recent discovery with grape seed extract and metabolism was that it helps NAD levels in the liver. NAD, or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, is an energy molecule central to metabolism and energy production. NAD production declines with age and illness. Grape seed extract’s positive effect on NAD in turn supports Sirt1 activity and gene expression which helps anti-aging, metabolism, and fat burning.

Toxins – Pesticides, Mold, Food Additive, BPA, Drug, and Diet

Further benefits of grape seed extract pertain to its versatility as an antioxidant aiding in cell protection against toxins and substances that trigger free radicals and cell distress. Cell studies reveal that grape seed extract antioxidant abilities aid in mitochondria protection in the brain against rotenone – a pesticide known to cause nerve-mitochondria deterioration.

Grape seed extract antioxidant activity also aids in protection against mold toxins - aflatoxins and zearalenone, gamma radiation exposure, and titanium dioxide. Aflotoxins are toxic metabolites produced by various molds found in crops such as cotton, wheat, corn, walnut and other tree nuts, peanuts, coffee, and other foods. Zearalenone is a potent estrogen-like mold toxin and endocrine disruptor found in grains and cereals. Aflotoxins and other mold toxins may be transferred into other foods such as eggs, dairy, and meat products when animals consume grains affected by the mold toxin.

Titanium dioxide is an additive found in many cosmetics, some packaged foods, and in various products for home and occupation. Exposure to these various toxins may provoke inflammation and immune challenges in the lungs, gut, liver, brain, and skin.

In another study pertaining to liver metabolism, researchers found that grape seed extract’s antioxidant function protected against the stress of dexamethasone, a steroid drug. Use of this drug may adversely affect cholesterol and blood sugar levels and stress the liver cells.

Research published October 2019 showed grape seed extract’s antioxidant effect helped protect the cerebellum against exposure to the drug valproic acid. The drug was used to stress the cerebellum/brain during fetal development in rats. Exposure to the drug caused cells to shrink and degenerate in the rodent cerebellum, but those that received the antioxidant grape seed extract had considerably fewer adverse changes.

The antioxidant activity of grape seed extract was shown to help buffer against oxidative stress in the lungs from arsenic exposure in a recent animal study. Other research shows grape seed extract helps protect the endothelial lining from bisphenol A induced free radicals. Bisphenol is a toxic compound from plastics and credit card slips, etc.

High fat, high sugar diets consisting of empty calories and low nutrient intake stresses the intestinal barrier. This is a common reason for leaky gut syndrome and metabolic oxidative stress. In fact, researchers use this type of diet to induce gut problems and obesity in studies. Grape seed extract has been shown to aid in protection of the gut wall from diet-induced oxidative stress.

Grape seed extract can also be used to support the brain from oxidative stress induced by the diet and other stressors. It helps protect microglial cells from the oxidative effects of overstimulation. Glial cells are special types of cells within your brain that take care of nerves and housekeeping duties.

We have frequently used grape seed extract support focus and mood and protect the brain from the bumps of life in all ages. Check out these articles Western Diet Causes Cycle of Brain Damage and Obesity and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Neuroinflammation: Peeling the Onion.

Grape seed extract may be taken with other polyphenol supplements like Resveratrol, Green Tea Extract, and Cinnamon Plus for a broad array of antioxidant and metabolic support. Grape seed extract may be used with other nutrients like vitamin C and Collagen Peptides to support connective tissue and other things like the immune system, adrenals, neurotransmitter production, etc.

Wellness Resources' Grape Seed Extract supplement is concentrated for 92 percent OPCs (oligomeric proanthocyanidins), with 12 percent being the very active monomeric OPC's. It has a Porter Unit Value of 330, significantly higher than most grape seed extract supplements. The capsules are small making it easy to swallow or they may be pulled apart and mixed in liquid or food. This makes it easy to give to children.

Historically, grape seed extract has been my go-to product for its antioxidant protection for the brain, blood vessels, and heart, along with support for bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscle. I also use and recommend it to help mitochondria and exercise demands. These additional studies have opened the spectrum of support that grape seed extract provides. I hope this information opens possibilities of support for you too.

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