The Many Benefits of Taurine: Part 2
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Taurine and Longevity
Recently, a new study on taurine has been receiving a lot of media attention. This study, involving dozens of longevity researchers from around the world, discovered that taurine deficiency speeds up aging in animals. And, conversely, supplementing experimental animals with taurine slowed down the aging process, extending their lifespan by 12%. Twelve percent might not seem like much but, when you add it to all the other benefits of taurine we discussed previously, it’s just icing on the cake.
The leader of this study was Vijay Yadav, PhD, assistant professor of genetics & development at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
He went so far as to state that, “this study suggests that taurine could be an elixir of life within us that helps us live longer and healthier lives”.
Yadav’s interest in the longevity potential of taurine grew out of his previous research into taurine’s role in bone building (sure enough, it is also good for preventing and treating osteoporosis). Around the same time, he noted that other researchers were correlating taurine levels with immune and nervous system functions, and obesity (by way of insulin regulation).
“We realized that if taurine is regulating all these processes that decline with age, maybe taurine levels in the bloodstream affect overall health and lifespan”, he said.
At this point, Yadav and his team started examining the blood levels of taurine in experimental animals and people, discovering that taurine declines steeply as creatures age. In humans they dound that the amount of taurine in a 60 year old was about one-third of the amount found in a five year old.
This information then led the researchers to set up a large experiment with mice, in order to determine if taurine deficiency is one of the main drivers of the aging process.
Two hundred and fifty middle-aged mice were divided into two groups, one group receiving taurine in their diet and a control group receiving no taurine.
The conclusion of the experiment, according to Yadav and his team, revealed that taurine supplementation increased the average lifespan of the males by 10% and that of the females by 12%. The human equivalency is about 7 or 8 more years of life.
So, it is not necessary to start supplementing with taurine at a young age in order to reap the longevity benefits: middle age is still going to work. And of course if one is starting taurine supplementation at an older age, there are still benefits to be had across the board, as we saw in part one.
The success of this longevity experiment led Yadav to invite other researchers to further investigate the effects of taurine supplementation on the health of other species.
Results of these follow-up experiments had him conclude that: “Not only did we find that the animals lived longer, we also found that they’re living healthier lives.”
Let’s look at some of the results that those additional studies provided.
Even More Benefits
Confirming the idea above that it’s never too late to start supplementing with taurine, one study started giving taurine to mice at age two, equivalent to 60 in human years. The mice receiving taurine proved healthier in a wide variety of ways over the mice who did not receive the supplement.
Examples of the benefits of taurine on these mice include:
- – Reduced age-associated weight gain in the female mice
- – Increased bone mass
- – Improved energy expenditure
- – Better muscle endurance and strength
- – Improved immune function
- – Much lower levels of anxiety and depression
- – Reduced insulin resistance
Pretty much the same benefits were found in a similar study done on middle-aged rhesus monkeys, who received taurine supplementation for six months, though this study also found that the taurine reduced markers of liver damage in the animals.
At the cellular level is where aging really shows itself, and also where cancer breeds, so understanding the benefits of taurine at the cellular level was an important part of these follow-up studies.
Examples of taurine’s benefits on a cellular level include:
– Reduced the number of “zombie cells” (those cells that should die but don’t,
instead hang around too long releasing harmful chemicals)
- – Increased stem cells in some tissues
- – Improved mitochondria performance
- – Reduced DNA damage
- – Improved telomere health
- – Increased the ability of cells to sense nutrients
Back to Humans
Now mice and monkey studies are all well and good (unless you are a mouse or monkey) but can we be sure the longevity benefits extend to humans as well?
Two further experiments carried out by Yadav and his team suggested that the answer to this question is, most likely, yes.
In one experiment, the researchers examined the relationship between taurine levels and fifty health parameters, among 12,000 European adults (60 and older). Across the board those with higher taurine levels were generally healthier. They had less diabetes, obesity, hypertension and lower levels of inflammatory markers.
Now, according to Yadav, “these are associations, which do not establish causation, but the results are consistent with the possibility that taurine deficiency contributes to human aging.”
The second experiment involved measuring taurine levels in male athletes and sedentary people, before and after a strenuous workout. Both categories showed a major increase in taurine levels after serious exercise.
This finding led Yadav to conclude that: “No matter the individual, all had increased taurine levels after exercise, which suggests that some of the health benefits of exercise may come from an increase in taurine.”
Yadav and his team of researchers believe that taurine deserves much more study as it is clear to them that taurine declines with age, and a deficiency in taurine is linked to a wide variety of human ailments. Thus, “restoring taurine to a youthful level in old age may be a promising anti-aging strategy”.
Take taurine. How’s that for a conclusion? It’s certainly the conclusion I came to after researching and writing on the subject. Aside from that obvious conclusion, I’ll end with a couple of random taurine studies that I ran across during my research.
“Cardiac and Visual Degeneration Arrested by a Food Supplement”
January 21, 2020
Summary: “Researchers have identified the SLC6A6 gene, which encodes taurine. When there are pathogenic mutations of the SLC6A6 gene, an individual will suffer from a lack of taurine and will lose his sight and develops a weak heart. They hypothesized that a taurine supplement might make it possible to compensate for this deficiency…After 24 months of treatment the cardiomyopathy was corrected in both affected siblings, and in the 6-years-old, the retinal degeneration was arrested and the vision was clinically improved.” (Study)
“Scientists Identify Nutrient That Helps Prevent Bacterial Infection”
January 15, 2021
Summary: “Scientists studying the body’s natural defenses against bacterial infection have identified a nutrient — taurine — that helps the gut recall prior infections and kill invading bacteria, such as Klebsiella pneumoniae (Kpn). The finding could aid efforts seeking alternatives to antibiotics.” (Study)
“Taurine also binding with NMDA to help nullify glutamate excitotoxicity.” (Source)
Restless Legs Syndrome
This is anecdotal but one health practitioner said this in the comment section of a respected alternative health website: “We give our clients with RLS symptoms 500 mg of Taurine. It immediately relieves symptoms in about 95% of the cases. For the 5% that don’t respond, we add in some D3/K2 and that seems to fit the bill.” (Source)
And so on. Eventually I just had to stop looking at more research or I’d end up writing a book on the subject of taurine. But, if you want to do further research into taurine, just go to PubMed and type it into the search bar, and you will most likely find even more amazing benefits of this simple amino acid.