Taurine Supplementation Increases Healthy Life Span, According to Columbia University Study
A new study from Columbia University has found that taurine, a nutrient produced in the body and found in many foods, may be a driver of aging in animals. The study also found that supplementation with taurine can slow down the aging process and extend healthy lifespans in mice and monkeys. While human trials are needed to confirm these findings, the study suggests that taurine could be an elixir of life that helps us live longer and healthier lives.
Taurine: The Anti-Aging Molecule
Over the past two decades, efforts to identify interventions that improve health in old age have intensified as people are living longer and scientists have learned that the aging process can be manipulated. Many studies have found that various molecules carried through the bloodstream are associated with aging. Less certain is whether these molecules actively direct the aging process or are just passengers going along for the ride. If a molecule is a driver of aging, then restoring its youthful levels would delay aging and increase healthspan, the years we spend in good health.
A study led by Columbia researchers finds that a deficiency of taurine, a molecule produced in our bodies, drives aging, and taurine supplements can improve health and increase lifespan in animals.
Taurine: The Elixir of Life?
Taurine first came into view during previous research into osteoporosis that uncovered taurine’s role in building bone. Around the same time, other researchers were finding that taurine levels correlated with immune function, obesity, and nervous system functions. The researchers realized that if taurine is regulating all these processes that decline with age, maybe taurine levels in the bloodstream affect overall health and lifespan.
Taurine Supplements: The Fountain of Youth?
The researchers found that taurine supplements can slow down the aging process in worms, mice, and monkeys and can even extend the healthy lifespans of middle-aged mice by up to 12%. Taurine supplement pills are also available, providing the nutrient without the caffeine, sweeteners, and other ingredients in energy drinks.
At a cellular level, taurine improved many functions that usually decline with age: The supplement decreased the number of “zombie cells” (old cells that should die but instead linger and release harmful substances), increased survival after telomerase deficiency, increased the number of stem cells present in some tissues (which can help tissues heal after injury), improved the performance of mitochondria, reduced DNA damage, and improved the cells‘ ability to sense nutrients.
Taurine: The Future of Anti-Aging?
The researchers do not know yet if taurine supplements will improve health or increase longevity in humans, but two experiments they conducted suggest taurine has potential. Only a randomized clinical trial in people will determine if taurine truly has health benefits. Other potential anti-aging drugs—including metformin, rapamycin, and NAD analogs—are being considered for testing in clinical trials. Taurine abundance goes down with age, so restoring taurine to a youthful level in old age may be a promising anti-aging strategy.