Recent evidence has shown that resveratrol, a compound naturally found in red wine, grapes, and nuts, can help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein, also known as “good” cholesterol. A recent study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism has revealed that resveratrol may also increase spinal bone density in men with metabolic syndrome. The study also cited resveratrol as a viable treatment option for osteoporosis.

"Our study is the first to reveal resveratrol's potential as an anti-osteoporosis drug in humans," Dr. Marie Juul Ørnstrup, lead researcher from the Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, said in a statement. "Our findings suggest the compound stimulates bone-forming cells within the body."

Ørnstrup and her colleagues recruited 66 middle-aged men diagnosed with metabolic syndrome to participate in a randomized, double-blind study. After having their mineral density as well as bone formation and resorption assessed, participants were either prescribed a 500-milligram dose of resveratrol, a 75-milligram dose of resveratrol, or a placebo twice a day for a period of 16 weeks. Similar studies have shown that resveratrol’s anti-inflammatory properties can protect against bone loss in mice.

The group of men in this study who consumed a 500-milligram dose of resveratrol twice a day increased their lumbar spine volumetric bone mineral density by 2.6 percent compared to the men who received the placebo. Men in the high dose resveratrol group also increased their levels of the bone formation marker bone alkaline phosphatase (BAP) by 16 percent. Metabolic syndrome, which often leads to low-grade inflammation that causes bone loss, has been linked to osteoporosis development.

"In just four months on high-dose resveratrol, we saw significant improvements in bone mineral density at the spine and elevated levels of the bone formation marker BAP," Ørnstrup added. "These are encouraging results. Additional research is needed to assess whether these bone protective effects occur in populations at risk of osteoporosis during the course of long-term treatment."

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of factors that can lead to more serious health complications, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Risk factors for metabolic syndrome include abdominal obesity, high levels of triglycerides, high blood pressure, high fasting blood sugar, and low HDL levels. Resveratrol’s ability to raise HDL levels may explain the findings from this study.

Source: Harsløf T, Kjær T, Langdahl L, Pedersen S, Ørnstrup M. Resveratrol Increases Bone Mineral Density and Bone Alkaline Phosphatase in Obese Men: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 2014.