OPC/grape seed extract: action as a powerful antioxidant
General information about OPC/ grape seed extract
OPC is found in many different plants. The content is particularly rich in grape seeds, red grapes (skin and foliage), pine bark, coconuts, ginkgo leaves, red skins of peanuts, apples and larch wood. The respective proportion is very high in the outer parts of the plant, such as barks and peels, and also in seeds and kernel casings, as the protective effect against harmful external influences is particularly needed here.
Since the content of OPC in grape seeds is particularly high, the active ingredient OPC is extracted from them and is also colloquially referred to as grape seed extract or grape seed polyphenols.
The highest content of OPC is found in the seeds and skins of red grapes, and also in the bark of pine trees, wild berries or the red skins of peanuts. From this, the active ingredient OPC is obtained via certain extraction processes. When OPC is extracted from grape seed flour, the content of extracted OPC is significantly lower.
OPC is an abbreviation for Oligomeric Proanthocyanidins (or Oligomeric Procyanidins). The substances naturally occurring in plants belong to the group of flavanols and the superordinate polyphenols.
OPC is one of the secondary plant substances, which protect plants against harmful external influences such as the effects of UV radiation (oxidation) and climatic conditions, bacteria, viruses, parasites and predators.
French professor Jacques Masquelier discovered OPC in the red membranes of peanuts in 1948 as part of an animal experiment study and noted, among other things, its vasoprotective effect.
Effect of OPC/grape seed extract
The main effect of OPC is its action as a very powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals in the body. Free radicals are generated by various factors, such as solar radiation, stress, air pollution, smoking, infections, chronic diseases, intense sports activities and physical stress.
In the body, free radicals damage cells by means of uncontrolled oxidation, which can lead to deterioration of general condition and premature aging processes. Antioxidants protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals and can thus prevent adverse health effects.
In addition, OPC is involved in collagen and elastin synthesis, which is supported by OPC in interaction with other substances and vitamins. Through this, OPC also plays an important role in the protection of blood vessels and in the formation and regeneration of human tissue (e.g. connective tissue and skin).
The special effect of OPC/grape seed extract for athletes
During intense exercise, increased oxidation processes in the body produce more free radicals. If there are not enough antioxidant substances available, fatigue can occur more quickly and muscles and joints can suffer more from the physical strain.
Injuries can occur more frequently in athletes and sportsmen. The vasoprotective effect of OPC can support better wound healing in the case of injuries, coalescence after bone fractures and the regression of bruises. In addition, OPC supports collagen and elastin synthesis, which are also involved in wound healing. In this way, injuries can be less severe.
In the case of edema (water retention in the tissue) and swelling, e.g. after operations or injuries, OPC can help to speed up regeneration.
In general, due to its antioxidant and vascular protective properties, OPC has a positive effect on various general mechanisms in the body, which also have a particular relevance for athletes: Protection of heart tissue and cardiovascular system, protection against bacterial and viral infections, protection against inflammatory processes, protection of stressed skin, positive effect on hypertension, reduction of fat cells and improved cholesterol and blood lipid levels. (1-7)
The correct dosage of OPC
General recommendations are 50 – 100 mg OPC daily for prevention, and 400 – 500 mg daily for injuries in the acute phase.
To note: Individuals taking a blood thinner should check with their physician to determine if they may take OPC. The proanthocyanidins contained may possibly reduce platelet adhesion and thus prolong blood clotting time. At a dosage of 200 – 400 milligrams of grape seed extract daily, no side effects are to be feared under normal circumstances.
As described, it is generally of high importance to supply oneself sufficiently with antioxidants as an athlete. That is why all our sports nutrition products also contain natural Antioxidants in high proportions. Top athletes appreciate this for example in our FAST CARB, SLOW CARB or in the RECOVERY SHAKE.