NEW YORK — A deficiency in a specific amino acid in the body might contribute to the aging process, a new study reveals. Researchers examined the effects of the amino acid taurine on health and lifespan in various animal models. The findings showed that taking taurine supplements could reverse age-related taurine loss and improve healthy lifespans in worms, rodents, and non-human primates.
Taurine, a semi-essential micronutrient, is abundantly present in animals, including humans. Previous studies have indicated that taurine deficiency during early life can lead to functional impairments in skeletal muscle, eyes, and the nervous system, which are often associated with aging-related disorders. While small clinical trials have shown potential benefits of taurine supplementation in metabolic and inflammatory diseases, the influence of taurine levels on overall health and lifespan remains poorly understood.
To delve deeper into the link between taurine and a healthy lifespan, Parminder Singh and a team of researchers measured blood taurine concentrations at different ages in mice, monkeys, and humans. The study showed a significant decline in taurine levels with age. For instance, 15-year-old monkeys had taurine concentrations 85 percent lower than their five-year-old counterparts. Similarly, taurine levels decreased by over 80 percent throughout the human lifespan. Aging mice also experienced declining taurine levels, and mice lacking the primary taurine transporter had shorter lifespans.
A ‘potential fountain of youth’ treatment?
The researchers then investigated whether taurine supplementation could reverse the decline in taurine levels and impact lifespan. They found that supplementing with taurine increased the median lifespan of worms and mice by 10 to 23 percent and 10 to 12 percent, respectively. In mice, oral taurine supplementation at specific doses was associated with improvements in strength, coordination, cognitive functions, and key markers of aging. The study also revealed positive effects on bone, metabolic, and immunological health in middle-aged rhesus macaques.
While these findings suggest that taurine supplementation could be a promising anti-aging strategy, further research, and human clinical trials are needed to confirm its effects on human lifespan. It is important to approach taurine supplementation with caution due to the lack of long-term safety trials in humans and the high doses used in animal studies. Although few risks have been suggested so far, it is crucial to thoroughly evaluate the potential risks and benefits before considering taurine supplementation for improving human health and longevity.
Taurine deficiency may play a role in the aging process, and restoring taurine levels through supplementation shows promise for extending a healthy lifespan. However, more research is necessary to fully understand taurine’s impact on human longevity and to determine safe and effective dosages for humans.
“Thus, like any intervention, taurine supplementation with the aim of improving human health and longevity should be approached with caution,” write study authors Joseph McGuann and Joseph Baur in a media release.
The study is published in the journal Science.