Taurine supplements extended the health and life span of middle-aged rats by 12 percent, the study found.
In humans it is also a semi-essential nutrient that is essential for longevity and well-being.
Taurine is synthesized from cysteine in the pancreas, but because the body does not produce enough of it, the rest must be obtained from the diet.
Also, taurine concentrations fall with age and vegetarian and vegan populations are at increased risk of taurine deficiency.
For optimal levels, taurine can be obtained from high protein foods such as meat, fish and milk, or taurine supplements.
Taurine plays an important role in the aging process: a deficiency reduces life expectancy, while supplements can delay aging and help us look younger.
Deficiency of taurine can lead to health problems such as hypertension, abdominal obesity, inflammation, type 2 diabetes and diseases related to aging.
Animal studies show that taurine supplements slow the aging process by reducing DNA damage and increasing an enzyme called telomerase that protects the ends of chromosomes.
Dr Vijay Yadav, senior author of the study, said:
“For the last 25 years, scientists have been trying to find factors that not only make us live longer, but also increase the span of health, while we stay healthy in old age.
This study shows that taurine can be the elixir of life within us that helps us live longer and healthier lives.”
Taurine has been known for its role in increasing bone density, supporting immune system and nervous system function, lowering blood glucose, and promoting weight loss.
Exercise and taurine
Another study found higher levels of taurine in athletes compared to sedentary individuals.
To see the impact of exercise, they measured the levels of taurine in the participants’ blood before and after a tough cycling session.
Usually sedentary individuals experience increased amounts of taurine after exercise as seen in runners, bodybuilders, cyclists and other athletes.
Dr Yadav said:
“Regardless of the individual, all experienced elevated taurine levels after exercise, indicating that some of the health benefits of exercise may stem from increased taurine.”
The researchers also compared taurine levels in different age groups and found that with age, large amounts of taurine were lost.
For example, taurine levels in a 60-year-old are only one-third that of a five-year-old.
Dr Yadav said:
“That’s when we started asking whether taurine deficiency was a driver of the aging process, and we did a large experiment with mice.”
The aging process has a detrimental effect on human health so that people live longer staying healthy at an older age is a challenge.
Scientists recognize that some molecules such as taurine are important in aging, if so the process can be controlled.
With the knowledge that molecules such as taurine are drivers of aging, increasing levels will slow aging and increase healthspan (being healthy for a longer period of time).
Dr Yadav said:
“We realized that if taurine regulates all the processes that decrease with age, it may be that taurine levels in the bloodstream influence overall health and longevity.”
Dr Yadav and team investigated the effects of taurine supplementation on health and longevity in middle-aged rats and monkeys.
Daily taurine supplementation for six months in monkeys and one year in mice provided remarkable health benefits.
It boosts the immune system, lowers blood glucose and some markers of liver damage, increases bone density in the legs and spine, and prevents weight gain in monkeys.
Taurine supplements increase muscle endurance and strength, increase bone mass, reduce insulin resistance, increase energy expenditure, reduce body weight, reduce depression and anxiety-like behaviors in rats.
Taurine supplements reduce “zombie cells” which are old cells that continue to live and produce toxins in the body.
It also increases telomerase, increases stem cell levels which are important for tissue healing after injury, slows down DNA damage, and improves mitochondrial function.
These experiments suggest that taurine may be able to promote longevity and improve human health.
Dr Yadav said:
“I think taurine should also be considered.
And it has several advantages: Taurine is produced naturally in our bodies, can be obtained naturally in the diet, has no known toxic effects (although it is rarely used in the concentrations used), and can be increased by exercise.
Taurine abundance decreases with age, so returning taurine to youthful levels in old age may be a promising anti-aging strategy.
The study was published in the journal Science (Singh et al., 2023; McGaunn et al., 2023)
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