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A miracle molecule present in red wine can help seniors walk away from immobility. A team of researchers has found that resveratrol in red wine could help improve mobility and prevent life-threatening falls among older people.

The discovery was made while studying the health conditions of mice for eight weeks. 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.

The study found that initially the older mice had more difficulty manoeuvering the obstacle. After four weeks, the older mice made far fewer missteps and were on par with the young mice, according to the research presented at the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society.

Even though they found that resveratrol helps improve mobility, they are unclear as to how resveratrol actually works on the body.

To find out how the resveratrol helps improve mobility, researchers conducted an experiment. When researchers exposed some neural cells to a neurotransmitter called dopamine, they found most of the cells died. Then they employed neurons treated with resveratrol to see how it protects. Again they exposed the neurons treated with resveratrol cells to dopamine but this time the cells survived.

On closer examination, the researchers found that resveratrol mitigated the damage done by oxygen-free radicals, generated by the breakdown of the dopamine, and activated protein signalling pathways that appeared to promote cell survival.

Previous studies have found that resveratrol helps reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, cut the risk of heart disease and certain cancers and, perhaps, have some anti-aging effects. Resveratrol is available as a dietary supplement and is abundant in foods such as red grapes, blueberries and nuts.

"Our study suggests that a natural compound like resveratrol, which can be obtained either through dietary supplementation or diet itself, could actually decrease some of the motor deficiencies that are seen in our aging population," said Jane E Cavanaugh, Ph D, assistant professor of pharmacology at Duquesne University. "And that would, therefore, increase an aging person's quality of life and decrease their risk of hospitalisation due to slips and falls."

Although resveratrol helps cure several diseases, researchers claim that it also has some drawbacks. For instance, it is poorly absorbed by the body. In fact, Cavanaugh calculates that a 150-pound person would have to drink almost 700 4-ounce glasses of red wine a dayto absorb enough resveratrol to get any beneficial effect.