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Products from OPC extracts

Notes and Differences

OPC extracts and products

OPC, these are oligomer procyanidins or proanthocyanidins. They are a part of the group of flavanols, but not to the group of flavanoids, which they are sometimes mistakenly categorized in. The bark of the stone pine or the red grapes contain a high amount of proanthocyanidins, for example catechin, epicatechin, ECGallate, taxifolin and TFGlucoside.

These substances are so-called monomers, that means that they usually appear as single molecules. Catechins appear in green tea and explain its positive healthy effect. But as long as these molecules stay on their own (monomer proanthocyanidins) their effect is low. Only if they connect to multi-chain (= oligomer) molecules, the healing features appear. Proanthocyanidins become oligomer proanthocyanidins (OPC).

But there's also a requirement for the effect of the OPCs: The chains can only consist of a maximum of 5 molecules (pentamers).  With 6 molecules, the OPCs can no longer enter the cell walls, because the chain is too big. This way, the OPCs cannot take effect. Only dimer (two-parted-chains) up to pentamers, the maximum, have a high bioavailability, that means they take effect in the body. The most effective OPC extracts are the ones with a high amount of short-chained OPCs. Ideally dimers and trimers. The amount of these two and three-parted  chains should be about 30%.

Product selection

That's why you should not only pay attention to the quantitative OPC content when choosing a product. Many suppliers advertise with unbelievable OPC contents of 200mg per capsule for a sensational price. The amount of OPCs alone doesn't say anything about their effects. As mentioned above, only short-chained OPCs are biologically effective. Request the chromatographic breakdown from every supplier. There you can see the percentual distribution of the OPC chains.

Rule: The higher the amount of short-chained OPCs, the more effective the compound.

What else do you need to take into account?

The bioavailability of OPCs depends on how short-chained the OPCs are. The shorter the chains (dimers and trimers are ideal), the higher the healing effect. Products that have a higher bioavailability make themselves conspicuous because the OPC are quickly absorbed by the body in high amounts. Pure quantitative descriptions ("200mg OPC Content") do not say anything about the quality and the effect of OPCs. Only OPCs with a maximum molecule length of 5 can be utilized by the human body.

Many products advertise with the statement "95% OPC Content". This statement is wrong in many ways.

First of all, there is not such a huge OPCs content and secondly the term OPCs is confused here with the term polyphenols.

Polyphenol is the umbrella term of a family of different substance groups that usually can be found in color pigments of plants. This includes e.g. flavons (flavus means yellow) or anthocyanins, the red and blue color pigment. Proanthocyanidins are pre-stages e.g. of anthocyanins.

This advertisement shows that the manufacturers do not really understand a lot about the topic.

Monomer proanthocyanidins

Monomers do not count as OPCs, but are often declared as such by suppliers. Monomers do not have the positive healing effects of short-chained OPCs.

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