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Imagine if we could just “turn up the switch” on a natural substance already being produced by our bodies and avoid the ailments of aging that prevent us from living longer.
What if we could increase our healthspans, which means not just adding years to our lifespans — but healthier ones?
What if we could support and replenish our aging mitochondria so our cells have the energy they need to keep on going — and keep us going?
What a game-changer that would be — as long we could get enough…
Can an amino acid molecule slow aging?
These are the questions that Dr. Vijay Yadav, assistant professor of genetics & development at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, had in mind when he launched a study involving dozens of researchers around the world who study aging.
Taurine first hit Dr. Yadav’s radar during previous research into osteoporosis that uncovered taurine’s role in building bone. Other researchers, around the same time, were seeing how taurine impacted immune function, obesity and nervous system functions.
That’s when a lightbulb went off…
“We realized that if taurine is regulating all these processes that decline with age, maybe taurine levels in the bloodstream affect overall health and lifespan,” Dr. Yadav says.
When the research team analyzed levels of the amino acid in the bloodstream of mice, monkeys and people, they saw something often revealed over and over again in aging research — a deficiency.
Taurine levels had dropped substantially with age. Specifically in people, the taurine levels in 60-year-olds were only about one-third of the levels in 5-year-olds.
“That’s when,” Yadav says, “we started to ask if taurine deficiency is a driver of the aging process, and we set up a large experiment with mice.”
Taurine levels decline with age: what if we raise them?
The study included about 250 14-month-old male and female mice (the equivalent of 45 in human years). The mice were fed an amount of taurine or a control solution daily.
By the end of the experiment, they found taurine had increased the average lifespan of female mice by 12 percent and 10 percent in males. For the mice, that meant three to four extra months — the equivalent of about seven or eight human years.
But what about the impact on the animal’s health?
For that answer, Dr. Yadov looked to other researchers who investigated the effect of supplemented taurine on the health and lifespan of several species…
After measuring various health parameters in mice, they found that at age 2 (60 in human years), animals supplemented with taurine for one year were healthier in almost every way than their untreated counterparts. In fact, the amino acid:
- Suppressed age-associated weight gain in female mice (even in “menopausal” mice)
- Increased energy expenditure
- Increased bone mass
- Improved muscle endurance and strength
- Reduced depression-like and anxious behaviors
- Reduced insulin resistance
- And promoted a younger-looking immune system
At the cellular level, supplementation:
- Decreased the number of “zombie cells” (old cells that linger and release harmful substances)
- Increased survival after telomerase deficiency
- Increased the number of stem cells present in some tissues (which help repair other cells)
- Improved the performance of mitochondria
- Reduced DNA damage
- And improved the cells‘ ability to sense nutrients
But supplementing isn’t the only way they found we can increase our levels. The researchers measured taurine levels before and after a strenuous cycling workout. They found a significant increase in taurine levels in both seasoned athletes and sedentary people.
Taurine: A natural anti-aging option
Dr. Yadav is quick to point out, however, that “these are associations, which do not establish causation, but the results are consistent with the possibility that taurine deficiency contributes to human aging.”
Randomized clinical trials, considered the gold standard in research, are needed for the definitive answer on taurine’s anti-aging benefits.
“Taurine abundance goes down with age, so restoring taurine to a youthful level in old age may be a promising anti-aging strategy.”
Dr. Bruce Ames, a Senior Scientist with a career spanning seven decades, would likely agree. His “triage theory” argues that, by skimping on inadequate amounts, we’re cheating ourselves of valuable “longevity vitamins” critical to long-term maintenance. He considers taurine one on a list of about 10 he considers valuable longevity nutrients.
Taurine is available in supplement form and is found naturally in foods like eggs, dairy, scallops, tuna, tilapia, octopus, seaweed, chicken, turkey and beef. Adding more of these foods to your diet can only help.
Supplementing taurine in reasonable amounts is safe. But if you have kidney health problems, discuss with your doctor first.
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Taurine may be a key to longer and healthier life — Eureka Alert
Taurine deficiency as a driver of aging — Science