Taurine, a nutrient that is produced in the body and can be found in some foods, may hold the secret to slowing the aging process, according to a new study published on June 9.
The peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Science, found that animals with a deficiency in Taurine age more intensely.
The study also found that taurine supplements slowed the aging process in monkeys, mice, and worms. The healthy lifespans of the animals increased by up to 12%.
How did the researchers test their theory?
The researchers conducted tests on 250 14-month-old mice, who are considered middle-aged.
Every day for a year, the researchers fed 125 mice taurine on top of their controlled diet. The mice were fed 1,000 mg of taurine per kg of their body weight.
The mice that were fed the taurine had an increased medium lifespan of 10-12% longer than the mice that were given just the standard diet. They also carried out a variety of physical tests which proved that the mice that had ingested taurine were healthier. The life expectancy of the mice also increased, by 18-25%.
Taurine suppressed weight gain in female mice by 10%, increased their energy expenditure, increased their bone mass, and improved their muscle strength and endurance. The taurine was also thought to reduce anxiety and depression in the mice and promote a better immune system.
The Taurine also helped to remove old cells which wouldn’t have otherwise been shed and replaced.
In testing on rhesus monkeys, the researchers found similar results. Half the monkeys were given taurine supplements for six months. Those who received the supplements benefitted from reduced weight gain, reduced markers of liver damage, increased bone density and improved immune health.
The researchers also found that taurine levels were 85% lower in 15-year-old monkeys compared to 5-year-old monkeys.
“Not only did we find that the animals lived longer, we also found that they’re living healthier lives,” said Dr. Vijay Yadav, a researcher on the study and the assistant professor of genetics & development at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Can Taurine help humans live longer?
The researchers looked at a sample of 12,000 European adults aged over 60. Preliminary data revealed that taurine concentrations were, on average, 80% lower in older adults compared to younger ones.
By measuring the participants' health with 50 markers, the researchers were able to deduce that people without taurine deficiency were in better health.
People with higher taurine levels had fewer cases of type 2 diabetes, lower obesity levels, reduced hypertension and less inflammation.
“These are associations, which do not establish causation,” Yadav warned, “but the results are consistent with the possibility that taurine deficiency contributes to human aging.”
In the second study on humans, the researchers divided the participants into two categories: athletic and sedentary.
All participants were asked to complete an exercise, cycling. Participants from both groups had higher levels of taurine after exercising than they had had before.
“No matter the individual, all had increased taurine levels after exercise, which suggests that some of the health benefits of exercise may come from an increase in taurine,” explained Yadav.
The secret to living a longer life
“Taurine abundance goes down with age, so restoring taurine to a youthful level in old age may be a promising anti-aging strategy.”
“For the last 25 years, scientists have been trying to find factors that not only let us live longer, but also increase healthspan, the time we remain healthy in our old age,” said Yadav.
“This study suggests that taurine could be an elixir of life within us that helps us live longer and healthier lives.
“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.”
“That’s when we started to ask if taurine deficiency is a driver of the aging process, and we set up a large experiment with mice.”
“Although this is a success of modern medicine and of government policies, it is vital to ensure that the elderly also remain healthy, because this will increase the quality of life and reduce the costs associated with societal aging,” the researchers wrote in their paper.
Foods that are high in taurine:
Shellfish, which are not kosher, contain some of the highest levels of taurine out of any food, according to NBC News.
Taurine can also be found in dark chicken and turkey meat in high levels.
Traces of taurine are also found in dairy products.