Taurine supplements could promote health in old age

Taurine is synthesised in the pancreas, but people naturally see their levels of the amino acid decline as they age. Now, scientists believe this could contribute to declining health and that supplements could be the answer to ageing better.

Researchers at the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in the US analysed taurine concentrations in mice, monkeys and humans at different ages. A cohort of 250 mice was studied, with 50 per cent of the participants given a half dose of a taurine supplement and the others administered a placebo.

The individuals that consumed supplements saw their lifespans increase, by 12 per cent in females and ten per cent in males. These three or four extra months of life in mice would equate to seven or eight years in humans, giving taurine the potential to have a significant impact.

While most famous for being an ingredient in energy drinks, taurine is also found in meat, fish and eggs. It’s known to support immune health and nervous system function, but improvements in strength, coordination, and cognitive functions in the rodents were also observed.

Vijay Yadav, leader of the study, said: "Not only did we find that the animals lived longer, we also found that they're living healthier lives."

To take the research further, taurine supplements were given to middle-aged monkeys and immune systems, bone density and overall metabolic health all showed an improvement. A study of 12,000 over-60s also demonstrated that those with higher levels of taurine were healthier.

Among the benefits were fewer cases of type 2 diabetes, lower obesity levels and decreased inflammation. The research team has suggested taurine could become an integral part of an anti-ageing strategy going forward.

Professor Yadav said: "Taurine abundance goes down with age, so restoring taurine to a youthful level in old age may be a promising anti-ageing 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.

"This study suggests that taurine could be an elixir of life within us that helps us live longer and healthier lives."

Photo credit: Unsplash/Centre for Ageing Better

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