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Miracle Molecule in Red Wine Could Help Seniors Improve Mobility, Prevent Life-threatening Falls

Update Date: Aug 19, 2012 12:41 PM EDT

In a miraculous finding, researchers have reported that a "miracle-molecule" found in red wine could help improve mobility and prevent life-threatening falls. 

The researchers presented their finding of resveratrol at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

Researchers conducted several studies on laboratory mice and they say their report could lead to the development of natural products designed to help older Americans live safer and more productive lives.

Resveratrol is a natural compound obtained through through dietary supplementation or diet itself and researchers say it could actually decrease some of the motor deficiencies that are seen in the aging population and increase an aging person's quality of life and decrease their risk of hospitalization due to slips and falls.

Falls are more common with advancing age and are the leading cause of injury-related death among people older than 65 and about one in three older Americans have difficulty with balance or walking, according to the American Geriatrics Society.

Researchers say mobility problems are particularly common among older people who have Parkinson's disease and other age-related neurological disorders. 

Previous studies have shown that resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine and dark-skinned fruits, might help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, slash the risk of heart disease and certain cancers and have some anti-aging effects in the body. 

Resveratrol is available as a dietary supplement and is abundant in foods such as red grapes, blueberries and nuts.

Researchers fed young and old laboratory mice a diet containing resveratrol for eight weeks. They periodically tested the rodents' ability to navigate a steel mesh balance beam, counting the number of times that each mouse took a misstep. Initially, the older mice had more difficulty maneuvering on the obstacle. But by week four, the older mice made far fewer missteps and were on par with the young mice.

Although encouraged by the results, researchers pointed out that resveratrol does have some downsides because it is poorly absorbed by the body. 

Researchers say that a 150-pound person would have to drink almost 700 4-ounce glasses of red wine a day to absorb enough resveratrol to get any beneficial effects. However, the researchers suspect that even if the effects of resveratrol in the brain are small, it could potentially be enough to help older people remain steady on their feet and avoid taking serious tumbles.

The researchers are investigating similar man-made compounds that mimic the effects of resveratrol and might be more bioavailable to the body. They're also trying to determine how much resveratrol actually enters the brain.

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