A new study in mice, monkeys and worms suggests that nutritional supplements taken by fitness enthusiasts may hold the key to a longer and healthier lifespan. Researchers have found that daily high doses of taurine, an amino acid commonly added to energy drinks and found naturally in a variety of foods, can help delay death and reduce the biological damage caused by aging. I found
A new study shows that test animals have improved physical fitness, memory and metabolism. published Science on Thursday. Inflammation and DNA damage were kept at bay. And middle-aged mice who took taurine supplements regularly lived significantly longer than those who did not.
“There’s something here and it would be great if it worked in humans,” said Dr. Nil Barzilai, director of the Institute for Aging Research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who was not involved in the study. not
But Dr. Barzilai and other longevity researchers cautioned against viewing taurine as a magical elixir to extend life. They said people should take supplements with caution, especially when considering high dose levels similar to those given to mice and monkeys.
Taurine is a nutrient that is produced in the body and obtained from animal foods such as shellfish and turkey, but has a long track record of safety. However, ingesting large amounts can cause digestive problems, kidney strain, and potentially harmful interactions with medications.
Its efficacy in promoting healthy aging in humans has not yet been established. And other once touted anti-aging drugs first showed promise in mice and monkeys, but they don’t always do well in human trials.
In a small clinical trial in Brazil, four months of low-dose taurine supplementation resulted in Positive antioxidant effects in older women, no toxicity concerns. But larger, longer-term studies are needed to assess the efficacy of other doses of taurine, the researchers said.
Human studies on taurine supplementation have generally tested low doses, usually around 1.5 grams per day. The mice and monkeys in the new study were given doses equivalent to about 3 to 6 grams per day in humans. seems safe Regulated by European regulators, but still high on the spectrum.
“The bottom line is that we need to do clinical trials,” said Vijay Yadav, a longevity researcher at Columbia University Irving Medical Center who led the study.
Taurine’s name comes from the Latin “taurus” for bull, after a German scientist in the 1820s. first isolated amino acids from cow bile.
But Dr. Yadav knew nothing about taurine until about ten years ago. Helped promote bone development in young mice born to vitamin-deficient mothers.
Studies in humans have already linked lower taurine levels to poorer heart health, cognitive performance, and muscle function.Several research It also points out that taurine is responsible for the extraordinary longevity of the people living on the island of Okinawa, Japan.
However, it remained unclear whether taurine deficiency is a driver of aging or just a byproduct of the aging process.
Dr. Yadav, along with colleagues at the National Institute of Immunology in New Delhi, first measured taurine levels in people’s blood and found that they declined steadily with age. Taurine levels at age 60 were about one-third that of toddlers.
His team then gave middle-aged mice and rhesus monkeys high-dose taurine supplements and compared their health to animals that did not receive an amino acid boost. Six months of treatment was sufficient to see improvements in bone density, glucose metabolism, and immune function in monkeys, and these effects and more in mice.
Multiple improvements at the cellular level, including less weight gain, stronger muscles, less anxiety, and a reduction in the number of so-called zombie cells, old cells that have stopped dividing but continue to wreak havoc on adjacent tissue. was seen. Taurine also increased life expectancy in mice by 12 percent in females and 10 percent in males. This supplement had a similar effect on nematode lifespan.
The researchers also found supporting evidence for taurine’s anti-aging potential in people by analyzing two data sets. One study of about 12,000 middle-aged people in eastern England showed a link between low taurine levels and diseases such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension. The other, involving German athletes, found that high-intensity exercise can naturally increase taurine levels, which may explain some of the anti-aging effects of physical activity. .
It is not yet clear how taurine works in the body. Experiments using mice and nematodes have pointed out the role of taurine in maintaining the health of mitochondria, the energy production factories within each cell. But more research is needed, says Christie Carter, director of health scientists at the National Institute on Aging. “I don’t know how it works,” she said.
Biohackers and longevity seekers aren’t going to wait for these scientific insights before adding taurine to their supplement stack.
“This paper is very thorough and compelling,” said founder Nick Engeler. longevity blog, based in Byron Bay, Australia. “This makes taurine a strong candidate to try at home for longevity.”
But most clinicians and longevity scientists urge against guzzling energy drinks or adding taurine powder to protein shakes until more well-controlled human data are available. “I keep telling people, ‘Turn off the fire until the clinical trials are over,'” says James James, a Mayo Clinic geriatrician who leads anti-aging research with other compounds. Dr Kirkland said.
David Sinclair, a longevity researcher at Harvard Medical School, is also active in self-experimentation outside of trial protocols.about him podcast And in his 2019 book, he regularly discusses his own cocktail of anti-aging supplements.
Dr. Sinclair said he has dabbled in taurine in the past. But based on the new paper, he said he would likely have regular blood tests for possible side effects and add high doses of taurine to his prescription. “What I’m really alarmed about and really concerned about is people just taking it and not monitoring their bodies,” he said.
Dr. Yadav declined to say whether he was taking taurine supplements. “I don’t want to be an influencer,” he said.