Can Taurine Slow Aging? Examining Another New Health Fad

Author Dr Mark Watson M.D.

Aging is a natural process that affects all living organisms, including humans. Scientists are constantly exploring various interventions to improve health and extend lifespan in old age. As a result, we hear about a new solution almost every other week, and one that’s doing the rounds at the moment is of course Taurine.

The reason this one is so popular with news outlets is probably due to the fact that it’s in a lot of energy drinks. And we all know how the news outlets love those sort of headlines.

The question is of course, is there any truth in the claims from a medical perspective, or is it just another hyperbolic news story designed to gather some clicks.

The answer as you’d expect is yes and no.

Taurine and Aging: The Research

Taurine is an amino acid found naturally in meat and shellfish and is also added as a supplement to energy drinks. [1]

And there are a couple of studies have suggested that taurine supplementation may have a positive impact on aging. They’re just not particularly useful, at least not in a way that allows us to say that taurine does all too much in humans. Note the last part in humans. There is one study that suggests it could play a part, but it’s a correlation study, not a trial.

Taurine Supplementation in Mice

First up, we’ve got the recent study that you may have heard about. The problem with studies in mice is that very few actually translate to humans. There’s also the fact that the doses that we use in mice often means we’d need to consume huge amounts to be on the same level. That’s not to say that none of them transfer, some do, but you should always take them with a pinch of salt.

That said, here’s how the study went.

To investigate the effects of taurine on aging, scientists conducted experiments on mice. They supplemented middle-aged mice with taurine and found that it led to an increase in average lifespan by 10% to 12%. These mice also experienced benefits such as reduced weight gain, improved bone density, enhanced muscle endurance and strength, decreased insulin resistance, and a better-functioning immune system. Although taurine did not reverse the effects of aging, it appeared to slow down the overall aging process in mice. [2]

Taurine Supplementation in Monkeys

The studies in monkeys start to get a bit more interesting, as they’re a lot more similar to humans. And said studies did show similar positive effects of taurine supplementation were observed in middle-aged monkeys. The monkeys that received daily taurine supplements for six months showed a prevention of age-related weight gain, improved fasting blood sugar levels, increased bone density, and enhanced immune system function. These findings further supported the potential of taurine in promoting healthy aging. [3]

How Does Taurine Effect Human Aging?

Well, this is ultimately the bit that matters, and there is something here, but there’s a catch. A study analyzing data from a large group of individuals found that higher taurine levels were associated with lower levels of obesity, type 2 diabetes, inflammation, and high blood pressure as well as reduced aging markers in general. [4]

Which in theory sounds good, right? Higher taurine levels meant better health. Well sort of. The thing is, that we don’t know if being in better health simply meant that your body stored more taurine, or that it was simply a biproduct of different dietary decisions.

Sort of like when we look at vegans and say on average they have better joint health [5] despite being more likely to have an omega deficiency. [6] The reason for the joint health is that they’re 30% less likely to be overweight, and avoided a lot of inflammatory foods [5,7] which in turn seems to outweigh the negatives of not getting enough omega 3. 

So, it could be anything from people who happen to drink energy drinks with taurine, may live more active lives, or on average consume more anti oxidants etc. Because there is no normalization for the behaviour of this sample by demographic it ultimately doesn’t mean a lot.

And as we’ll come to in the next section, you’ll see why this elevated taurine and slower aging could simply be a biproduct of a particular lifestyle.

As a result further research is needed to establish the direct effects of taurine supplementation on human health and aging.

Exercise and Taurine

Because exercise has been found to increase taurine levels in the blood [8] and staying active leads to slower aging, [9] we ultimately could have our answer as to why we really don’t know if this effects humans at all.

Studies have shown that taurine levels rise after strenuous physical activity. This association between exercise and taurine suggests that the health benefits of exercise may be partly attributed to the increase in taurine levels.[8]

However, the exact mechanisms underlying this relationship and whether exercise triggers taurine production or simply moves more taurine into the bloodstream require further investigation.

Other Factors That Could Cause The Link Between Taurine And Slower Aging

The most well known benefit of taurine is that boosts energy levels, meaning that people who consume it should in theory move more. [10] Most of our calorie burn through the day is actually from “normal activity” not deliberate exercise so subconsciously moving more could in fact make a difference. This is of course speculative, but it could potentially explain some benefits of taurine for aging if it were supplemented rather than just created as a result of deliberate exercise.

So, Does Taurine Slow Aging Then Yes Or No?

The research on taurine and its potential to slow down the aging process is still in its early stages. The existing studies suggest that taurine supplementation may have positive effects on lifespan and overall health in animal models. However, more research is needed, particularly in human trials, to determine the efficacy taurine supplementation in humans. At the moment, we can pretty much say there's no evidence to suggest that it actually slows aging in humans as elevated taurine is a by product of working out, and regular excersise slows aging, so any correlation here is accounted for already.

Taurine shows some promise as a potential intervention for healthy aging, but further scientific investigation is required before any real conclusions are made. In short, we’re not quite at the point of saying energy drinks can slow aging, despite what the media outlets may be saying.

The Future of Taurine Research

While the existing research on taurine and aging is promising, more studies are needed to fully understand its potential benefits and mechanisms of action in humans. It is crucial to conduct large-scale, long-term clinical trials to determine the effectiveness and safety of taurine supplementation. These trials should examine a wide range of health parameters and assess the optimal dosage of taurine for different age groups. Additionally, further research is required to elucidate why taurine levels decline with age and how taurine interacts with other molecules and pathways involved in aging.

Is Taurine Supplementation Safe?

Taurine supplementation has been generally considered safe based on the available evidence. The FDA has deemed doses of taurine similar to those used in research to be safe for human consumption. However, it is important to note that the long-term consequences of high-dose taurine supplementation are still not fully understood. Although based on consumption levels in energy drinks worldwide, we’d suggest that it’s probably OK.

Getting Taurine from Food Sources

While taurine can be obtained through supplementation, it is also naturally present in various food sources. Shellfish, dark chicken and turkey meat, and other meats contain higher levels of taurine. Dairy products such as milk and ice cream also contain taurine but in smaller quantities. It is possible to obtain taurine through a balanced diet that includes these food sources. However, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian before making any significant changes to your diet or starting any supplementation.

About Author

Dr Mark Watson is the founder of Center TRT, having graduated from stamford more than 20 years ago, he is an expert in the field of supplemental health, focusing on long term benefits of complimenary treatment. View Profile


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