Most of us have heard of the popular antioxidant supplements. These remedies have established themselves as another tool in our constant struggle against the relentless passage of time. In our new article, we are pleased to introduce you to a compound that many believe to be the best antioxidant in the world.
OPCs are natural molecules of the flavonoid group, capable of acting on the three worst enemies of health. Oxidative stress, inflammation, and metabolic syndrome may just have found their match with OPC supplements. If you think it sounds too good to be true, read our guide to understand why they are so useful.
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- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About OPCs
- 5 Buyer's Guide
- 6 Summary
- OPCs are antioxidant compounds mostly present in the grape seed extract and the bark of the maritime or cluster pine.
- These supplements capture and neutralize free radicals, reducing oxidative stress and promoting the maintenance of cellular integrity in the process.
- You will have to consider various factors before purchasing these products, such as your possible dietary restrictions or the source of the OPCs.
The best OPC: Our Picks
We're sure that you want to find the OPC supplements that best fit your needs, which is why we have analyzed the market to choose the most popular products available out there. In our selection below, you can learn more about these supplements, who they are for, and how to take them. Get ready to reap all the benefits of OPCs!
Pure OPC (Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins) Grapeseed Extract capsules, 456mg High Strength Pure OPC, Magnesium Stearate Free & No Nasty Additives, Suitable for Vegans and Vegetarians, with added Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) which contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress, UK Manufactured by Health Leads UK
Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About OPCs
What are OPCs exactly?
OPCs may be able to tackle the health challenges of modern society. Stress, aging, and poor nutrition disrupt the internal balance of our organism. This results in increased oxidative stress and inflammation, as well as the appearance of metabolic syndrome. You can learn more about the consequences of these harmful processes in the table below (2, 3):
|Oxidative stress (increase of free radicals)|| Contamination.
Exposure to heavy metals (cadmium and lead).
Consumption of toxins (alcohol and tobacco).
| Increase in oxidizing compounds.
Decrease in antioxidant molecules.
| Cell damage.
|Inflammation (excessive activation of the immune system)|| Aging.
Consumption of toxins (alcohol and tobacco).
|Release of inflammatory molecules|| Joint pain.
Susceptibility to infections.
|Metabolic syndrome (increased likelihood of cardiovascular events)|| Diet high in saturated fats and sugars.
| Increased visceral fat.
| Weight gain.
According to the latest clinical trials on animals, the consumption of OPCs would reduce the levels of free radicals with higher potency than vitamins C and E, other known antioxidants. It may also lower levels of body inflammation and inhibit appetite, contributing to the weight loss required to control the metabolic syndrome (4).
Why should I use OPC supplements?
You can raise your OPC levels by integrating these foods into your diet. The problem is that you would need a high daily consumption to reach the dose of proanthocyanidins that has proven to have a potentially beneficial effect on health. Unfortunately, excessive intake of these products can lead to several undesirable and harmful effects (5):
- Empty calories: Excessive wine consumption may increase your alcohol intake, resulting in an excess of empty calories (energy devoid of nutrients and vitamins). This would lead to the paradoxical combination of malnutrition and obesity.
- Alcohol oxidation: Once metabolized by your liver, alcohol forms an oxidizing compound called acetaldehyde. This molecule binds to tissues, damaging them and causing cardiovascular (myocardiopathy), hepatic (cirrhosis), and metabolic (pancreatitis) pathologies, among others. This process counters the antioxidant effects of OPCs.
- Diet transgressions: While moderate consumption of fresh fruits and nuts is recommended, excessive intake of sugar and fat from grapes, blackberries, raspberries, and peanuts will result in excess calories and weight gain. If you have diabetes, sugar intake will also worsen your glycemic control.
- High cost: Wine, nuts, and berries are generally expensive products. Their consumption can definitely have an impact on your budget in the long run.
The dose of OPCs required to mitigate oxidative stress ranges from 50 to 600 mg/day. A glass of wine will provide the highest natural intake, reaching around 200 mg (6). However, keep in mind that the effect of acetaldehyde will reduce its antioxidant power. This is why OPC supplements are much more effective and less harmful.
Can OPC supplements stop aging?
While we aren't able to completely stop the passage of time yet, you can age healthily by reducing the levels of free radicals in your organism. This will lower your chances of suffering from certain conditions, such as cardiovascular events, joint degeneration, and infertility. It may also prevent the premature appearance of wrinkles.
While OPC supplements have been taken for decades to deal with the unpleasant effects of aging, clinical trials on proanthocyanidins are still in their early stages. That being said, the results of these studies have been incredibly promising so far. We have listed the most relevant ones in the following table:
|Country, year||Type of study||Aim||Dose||Results|
|India, 2019||Clinical trial on animals (7)||Effects of OPCs on oxidative stress||100 mg/kg/day (grape seed extract)|| Reduction of oxidative stress.
Prevention of cell death.
|France, 2016||Clinical trial (35 women) (8)||Identifying potential changes in skin appearance||150 mg/day (grape seed extract + vitamin C + zinc)|| Improvement of skin tone.
Increase in facial luminosity.
Reduction of blemishes.
Improvement of skin firmness.
|Spain, 2014||Clinical trial on animals (9)||Effects on oxidative stress caused by obesity||35 mg/kg/day (grape seed extract)||Lowered oxidative stress in the liver|
|Spain/Colombia, 2012||Clinical trial on animals (10)||Effects of OPCs on hypertension|| 250 mg/kg/day.
500 mg/kg/day (grape seed extract).
| Control of hypertension.
No lowering of normal blood pressure.
The studies mentioned above have confirmed the potential of OPC supplements in reducing the oxidation of various tissues caused by elements such as toxic abuse, obesity, or hypertension. Carried out on women, the most promising trial showed an improvement in skin tone, firmness, and texture.
Can OPC supplements reduce inflammation?
Bioflavonoids such as OPCs may regulate the immune system, preventing the excessive activation of cells responsible for the production of inflammatory molecules. In the table below, you can learn more about the top studies regarding the relationship between OPC supplements and inflammation:
|Country, year||Type of study||Aim||Dose||Results|
|Spain, 2019||Clinical trial on animals (11)||Influence on inflammation caused by processed food||100 mg/kg/day.
500 mg/kg/day (grape seed extract).
| Improvement of metabolic parameters.
Prevention of gastrointestinal conditions.
|Spain, 2009||Clinical trial on animals (12)||Influence on inflammation caused by a fat-rich diet||345 mg/kg/day (grape seed extract)|| Reduction of inflammation.
Increased fat destruction.
|UK, 2009||Clinical trial (16 men and 16 women) (13)||Effects on oxidative stress in diabetic and obese individuals||600 mg/day (grape seed extract)||Reduction of oxidative stress|
The use of OPC supplements derived from grape seed extract may control inflammation caused by poor diet (called "cafeteria diet" in one of the studies) and metabolic disorders such as diabetes. Keep in mind that further research is required to confirm these promising results.
What other benefits do OPC supplements offer?
- Erectile dysfunction: Consumption of a diet rich in flavonoids (including proanthocyanidins) may prevent the onset of erectile dysfunction among older men (18). Besides, OPC supplements from maritime pine extract combined with arginine could be an alternative for the treatment of impotence (19).
- Varicose veins: These supplements are often recommended for the prevention and relief of varicose veins, although there is a lack of clinical studies, and more thorough clinical trials need to confirm these promising results (20).
- Alzheimer's disease: The use of OPC supplements has been suggested to stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease. The antioxidant effect of these molecules may improve the symptoms of this form of dementia. Further studies are required to prove or disprove this hypothesis (21).
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Certain experts believe that adding OPC (from maritime pine extract) to the diet of people with ADHD could improve the management of this condition (22).
- Hair loss: The administration of an OPC supplement from blackcurrant extract proved to contribute to the hair growth of lab rats. This is why experts think that it could be a possible ally to fight hair loss induced by hormonal factors (23).
Some scientists have also presented ambitious hypotheses regarding the OPCs' ability to treat cancer. Indeed, these dietary supplements have shown anti-tumor activity in cultures of isolated cells, where it destroyed malignant cells (24, 25). Once again, further studies are needed to verify whether or not these effects also affect human patients.
Are OPC supplements safe?
- Anticoagulant medication
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories
- Antihypertensive medication
- Glucose-lowering drugs, including insulin
- Lipid-lowering medication and cholesterol treatments
The safety of OPC supplements in pregnant or breastfeeding women has not been proven yet, which is why its use is discouraged. Children under the age of 18, fragile individuals, or people who are about to undergo surgery should not consume this product without medical supervision.
Finally, it is essential that you keep in mind that not all oxidative processes in the body are harmful. Free radicals are weapons used by your immune system to destroy microorganisms, toxins, and malignant cells. Defensive cells are capable of launching pro-oxidant compounds against threats to your health, ensuring the well-being of the body.
The excessive activation of this system is what generates tissue damage, inflammation, and premature aging. Antioxidant supplements such as OPCs may prevent these undesirable effects, although excessive consumption could sabotage the actions of your white blood cells; this would leave you unprotected against disease (27). Always follow instructions of use when taking antioxidants.
Choosing the right OPC supplement can be quite challenging. You have to evaluate a series of key criteria that will help you identify the most suitable product. In the following section, we have selected the most important factors and delved into them so you can have all the information you need to make the best possible purchase.
If you are allergic to grapes, blueberries, or any other berry, you will naturally rule out any OPC supplement based on grape extract. You can turn to products based exclusively on maritime pine extract. In any case, stop use immediately and seek medical help if you experience breathing difficulties, rashes, or dizziness during supplementation.
OPCs come from plants, so it shouldn't be difficult for vegetarian individuals to find a suitable supplement. Simply check the composition of the product to make sure that the capsules aren't made from animal gelatin. In addition, manufacturers offer supplements adequate for gluten-intolerant people, as well as anyone allergic to lactose, soya, or nuts.
Origin of OPCs
Oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes can be found in other foods, such as cocoa, certain nuts, and various types of citrus fruits. However, the benefits of supplements based on grape seed and maritime pine bark extracts have been studied in greater depth. For safer supplementation, we encourage you to opt for products that include these extracts.
If you can, opt for supplements that come from organic farming. Pesticide abuse and deforestation are constant threats to our ecosystem, and purchasing a sustainable OPC product will help improve your health and care for the environment. Note that these items are generally more expensive than others with lower quality standards.
Wine and grapes have been known to contribute to our health since ancient times. Modern technology has allowed us to extract the benefits of these foods, concentrating the power of the grape seed and pine bark in a wonderful supplement.
If you're looking for a nutritional product with antioxidant actions, OPC supplements are exactly what you need. They could improve your skin while protecting your cardiovascular system from free radical damage. What more could you ask for?
We hope you enjoyed our guide on OPC supplements. Feel free to leave us a comment below and share it on your social media!
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