A study by Columbia University has found taurine could be an elixir of life within us that helps us live longer and healthier lives.
The New York institute found taurine supplements can slow down the ageing process in worms, mice, and monkeys and can even extend the healthy lifespans of middle-aged mice by up to 12%.
The researchers found that taurine suppressed age-associated weight gain in female mice, increased energy expenditure, increased bone mass, improved muscle endurance and strength, reduced depression-like and anxious behaviors, reduced insulin resistance, and promoted a younger-looking immune system, among other benefits.
At a cellular level, taurine improved many functions that usually decline with age: the supplement decreased the number of ‘zombie cells’, increased survival after telomerase deficiency, increased the number of stem cells present in some tissues, improved the performance of mitochondria, reduced DNA damage, and improved the cells‘ ability to sense nutrients.
Similar health effects of taurine supplements were seen in middle-aged rhesus monkeys, which were given daily taurine supplements for six months.
Taurine prevented weight gain, reduced fasting blood glucose and markers of liver damage, increased bone density in the spine and legs, and improved the health of their immune systems.
“Not only did we find that the animals lived longer, we also found that they’re living healthier lives,” said study leader Vijay Yadav, PhD, assistant professor of genetics & development at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
In people, taurine levels in 60-year-old individuals were only about one-third of those found in five year-olds.
“Taurine abundance goes down with age, so restoring taurine to a youthful level in old age may be a promising anti-ageing strategy,” said Yadav.
“Taurine is naturally produced in our bodies, it can be obtained naturally in the diet, it has no known toxic effects, and it can be boosted by exercise.”
The study, titled 'Taurine deficiency as a driver of aging' was published in Science on 8 June.