Taurine is an amino acid found naturally in mammals – in fact, its name derives from the Latin taurus, which means bull – including humans, and which is also contained in some foods, such as shellfish and meat, and is added to many foods. energy drinks. This compound performs various functions in the body. For example, it acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system – where it can influence mood regulation and the stress response – and is involved in cardiovascular function and fat digestion.
New research has now found that a taurine deficiency promotes aging in animals, while taurine supplements can slow the aging process in worms, mice, and monkeys, and can even extend the healthy lifespan of middle-aged mice. age up to 12%.
The study was led by researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (USA) and included the collaboration of dozens of aging scientists from around the world. Their findings have been published in Science. “This study suggests that taurine could be an elixir of life within us that helps us live longer, healthier lives,” says Vijay Yadav, an assistant professor of genetics and development at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and labor leader.
Taurine supplements in middle age improve health in old age
In earlier research on osteoporosis, Yadav found that taurine played a role in bone formation, while other researchers found, around the same time, that levels of this nutrient were correlated with immune function, obesity, and the functions of the nervous system. “We realized that if taurine regulates all these processes that decline with age, perhaps taurine levels in the bloodstream affect overall health and lifespan,” says Yadav.
“Taurine abundance declines with age, so restoring taurine to a youthful level in old age may be a promising antiaging strategy.”
The researchers analyzed taurine levels in the bloodstreams of mice, monkeys, and people and found that the amount of taurine drops significantly with age. Specifically, taurine levels at the age of 60 were only about a third of those found in five-year-olds.
They then began an experiment with about 250 14-month-old mice of both sexes (which is equivalent to about 45 years in humans). Each day they fed half of them either a taurine supplement or a control solution, and at the end of the experiment they found that taurine increased average lifespan by 12% in female mice and 10% in males. For the mice, that meant an extra three to four months, equivalent to about seven to eight human years.
To find out how taurine affected health, Yadav asked other scientists to analyze the effect of taurine supplementation on health and life expectancy in various species, and they evaluated various health parameters in mice and found that at age After 2 years (60 in human years), the animals supplemented with taurine for one year were healthier in almost every way than their untreated counterparts.
Among the main benefits, they found that taurine prevented age-associated weight gain in female mice (even in menopausal mice), increased energy expenditure and bone mass, improved endurance and muscle strength, reduced anxious behaviors and depression-like, decreased insulin resistance, and contributed to a younger-looking immune system. “Not only did we find that the animals lived longer, we also found that they live healthier lives,” says Yadav.
Similar effects on their health were seen in middle-aged rhesus monkeys, given daily taurine supplements for six months: taurine prevented weight gain, reduced fasting blood glucose levels and markers of liver damage, increased bone density in their spine and legs and improved the health of their immune systems.
Taurine Anti-Aging Effects
Whether taurine supplements will increase longevity or improve health in humans is not yet known, but Yadav and his team conducted two experiments that suggest taurine has the potential to do just that. In the first, they observed the relationship between taurine levels and approximately 50 health parameters in 12,000 Europeans over 60 years of age.
In general, people with higher taurine levels were healthier, with fewer cases of type 2 diabetes, lower levels of obesity, hypertension and inflammation. “These are associations that do not establish causality,” Yadav notes, “but the results are consistent with the possibility that taurine deficiency contributes to human aging.”
The aim of the second study was to see if taurine levels would respond to an intervention known to improve health: exercise. The researchers measured taurine levels before and after a group of male athletes and sedentary individuals engaged in strenuous cycling and found a significant increase in taurine among all groups of athletes (sprinters, endurance runners, and natural bodybuilders) and in sedentary individuals. “No matter the individual, all had increased taurine levels after exercise, suggesting that some of the health benefits of exercise may come from increased taurine,” says Yadav.
Other potential anti-aging drugs including metformin, rapamycin and NAD analogues are being considered for clinical trial testing and Yadav is of the opinion that taurine should be included as its advantages include that it occurs naturally in our bodies and can be obtained through diet, “has no toxic effects and can be enhanced with exercise.” “Taurine abundance declines with age, so restoring taurine to a youthful level in old age may be a promising antiaging strategy,” he concludes.
Nabil Djouder, Head of the Growth Factors, Nutrients and Cancer Group at the National Cancer Research Center (CNIO), considers this study very interesting because “it associates a component of the diet with a healthy life span. It is important to note that taurine is an amino acid found naturally in the human body, but its decline during aging could be offset by eating a diet rich in taurine-containing foods. Taurine is found in high concentrations in some foods, such as meat and shellfish, but it is very low or almost non-existent in a completely vegan diet, ”as he explained in statements to SMC Spain.
He adds that research has found that “taurine supplementation increased healthy life expectancy and lifespan in mice, as well as healthy life expectancy in monkeys.” In addition, he continues, “it appears that fasting and physical exercise increase the concentration of taurine in the blood, as has been shown in this study. It is important to highlight that fasting and physical exercise are also related to an increase in healthy living.
And he concludes that “taurine deficiency may be a driver of aging, since its reversal increases healthy life expectancy in worms, rodents and primates, as well as life expectancy in worms and rodents”, although he indicates that “for To prove whether taurine deficiency is also a driver of aging in humans, long-term, well-controlled trials of taurine supplementation measuring healthy life expectancy and life expectancy as outcomes are required.”