Taurine, an amino acid that humans produce naturally, is the latest anti-aging supplement that shows potential for increasing longevity.
The amino acid can be found naturally in animal products and byproducts like beef, shellfish and dairy. It is often an ingredient in popular energy drinks.
Though taurine levels naturally decline as you age, new research suggests that supplementing taurine may slow down, or reverse, aging in older animals like worms, mice and monkeys.
A research paper, published this June in the journal Science, found that daily supplements of taurine increased the lifespan of mice and worms by at least 10%.
Not only did the animals live longer, they got healthier.
The mice, specifically, were 14 months old at the start of the experiment. That age is equivalent to that of a 45-year-old human. Mice that received taurine supplements each day lived 10% to 12% longer than mice that didn’t.
Additionally, they “were leaner, had an increased energy expenditure, increased bone density, improved memory and a younger-looking immune system,” Dr. Vijay Yadav, a researcher involved in the study, told BBC News.
Researchers also tested the supplement on 15-year-old monkeys for six months, but the study didn’t track the animals long enough to determine if they lived longer. Still, the scientists noticed very positive changes to the monkeys’ immune systems, blood-sugar levels, weight and bone health, according to BBC News.
Despite the groundbreaking results, Yadav isn’t suggesting that people take taurine supplements just yet. “Let us wait for the clinical trials to be completed before recommending to the wider population that they go to the shelf in a grocery store and buy taurine,” he told BBC News.
Yadav declined to confirm or deny if he takes taurine supplements himself, to avoid encouraging people to use them before in-depth research on humans is conducted, according to the publication.
“We need to confirm in humans. This was a mouse trial,” says Neil Paulvin, a NY-based longevity and regenerative medicine doctor.
Though Paulvin takes taurine supplements daily and recommends it to his clients, he strongly suggests speaking to your doctor before taking any supplement, especially if you have certain medical conditions.
“We also need to make sure, longer term, if there are any side effects, which is not likely because this is an amino acid that we’re exposed to in food all the time. But [we still need to] make sure there aren’t any long-term side effects with these doses.”
Before turning to supplements, consider implementing the tried-and-true practices for longevity that research strongly supports, says Paulvin.
“The best anti-aging supplement is exercise, especially high-intensity exercise with weights, three times a week,” he says. “Optimizing your sleep and your circadian rhythm [too].”
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