Taurine, a naturally occurring nutrient found in many foods and popular energy drinks, could slow down aging and extend life, according to a recent study published in Science. The study found that taurine levels decline with age and that supplementing male and female mice with taurine increased their lifespan by 10-12%.
The supplemented mice also showed improved muscle endurance and strength, increased bone mass, increased energy expenditure, reduced insulin resistance, and fewer signs of depression-like or anxious behaviors.
The researchers also found that higher taurine levels in humans were associated with better health outcomes, but further research is needed to determine whether taurine supplements would help improve lifespan and health in humans.
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Taurine is a naturally occurring amino acid found in many foods, including meat, fish, and dairy products. It is also a common ingredient in energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster. But, that does not mean you should go drinking cans of energy drinks everyday to help get your recommended daily intake (RDI) of taurine.
The research team, led by Dr. Vijay Yadav at Columbia’s Irving Medical Center, first noticed taurine as a potential catalyst of aging over a decade ago when they found that the average 60-year-old displays taurine levels measuring just a third of those that can be found in a 5-year-old.
Yadav’s team homed in on taurine as a potential driver of the aging process in 2012 when an analysis of blood compounds found that levels of the amino acid dropped dramatically with age in mice, monkeys, and humans.
By the age of 60, taurine levels in a typical person slumped to one-third of that seen in five-year-olds, they found.
In the study, mice who received taurine supplements lived around three to four months longer than those who did not. The researchers also found that levels of the micronutrient, taurine, fell substantially with age, but that topping them up to more youthful levels boosted the health of mice and monkeys and even extended the lifespans of mice.
“Taurine abundance declines with age and reversal of this decline makes animals live longer and healthier lives,” said Dr. Yadav.
While the results are promising, its effectiveness in promoting healthy aging in people is yet to be established. One small clinical trial in Brazil found that four months of low-dose taurine supplementation had positive antioxidant effects in older women, with no toxicity concerns. But larger and longer studies are needed to gauge the effectiveness of other doses of taurine, researchers said.
Despite the potential benefits of taurine, most clinicians and longevity scientists urged against guzzling energy drinks or adding taurine powder to protein shakes until more research is conducted. Some energy drinks contain taurine, but they also contain other substances that may not be safe to consume at high levels.
In conclusion, the recent research on taurine suggests that it could be a promising supplement for promoting healthy aging. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effectiveness in humans. In the meantime, people can consume foods that are high in taurine, such as meat, fish, and dairy products, to naturally boost their taurine levels.