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Taurine supplements

Can taurine supplements slow ageing?

Scientists are studying a supplement that could help people live longer - and the ingredient, called taurine, just might extend lifespans by an extra seven to eight years. But don't part with your money just yet. Experts don't know how taurine supplements effect humans.

To separate fad from fact, we explore the current evidence for this potential elixir of youth and demystify the health implications of taurine in energy drinks.

"Our study suggests that taurine could be an elixir of life within us," - study leader Vijay Yadav, assistant professor of genetics and development at Columbia University.

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What is taurine?

We all have levels of taurine in our bodies, and these decrease as we age. A naturally occurring amino acid, taurine is found in protein-rich foods, like meat, fish, and eggs. Many health benefits have been known by scientists for years. For example, taurine:

  • Supports our bodies' cells.

  • Boosts energy production, which may enhance exercise performance.

  • Helps balance important minerals, salts, and bile acids.

  • Improves heart disease risk factors.

Until now, no one has investigated how the levels of taurine in our bodies might affect ageing.

Are taurine supplements the key to longer life?

In June 2023, research carried out by Columbia University1 caused a buzz when preliminary studies revealed the relationship between taurine and ageing - and that taurine supplements may prolong life.

Taurine levels decline with age

First, the researchers measured the levels of taurine in our blood. The results confirmed that levels were more than 80% lower in human participants aged around 65 years compared to the infant participants.

Higher levels are linked to better health

In a separate study of mice and monkeys, those with higher taurine levels had superior:

They also had reduced markers of:

Taurine supplements improve health and lifespan

Daily taurine supplements given to mice:

  • Extended their lives by around 12%, compared to a control group.

  • In human years, this is the equivalent of seven to eight years.

  • These taurine supplements were also found to reduce many hallmarks of ageing, including oxidative stress and DNA damage.

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Are taurine supplements safe for people?

For those hoping to live longer and heathier lives, these are exciting results - yet in reality, the researchers don't yet know if taurine supplements are safe and effective in humans.

However, trials looking at how taurine behaves in the body do show potential. For example, one study measured taurine in the blood before and after male athletes and more sedentary people finished a high intensity cycling workout. In both groups, the workout significantly increased taurine levels, suggesting that taurine responds to healthy lifestyle measures2.

Taurine is also already being added to drinks with the aim of supporting health and fitness. As it's naturally found in human milk - but not cow's milk - it’s commonly added to prepared baby formulas to support infant development3. However, much like taurine for longer life, evidence in this area is lacking.

Energy drinks - is added taurine healthy?

Anyone consuming energy drinks may already be getting additional taurine, as this is often added to sports beverages. This is because there's some evidence that taurine can improve exercise performance, reduce recovery time, and repair muscle damage4.

But it's dangerous to think that this makes energy drinks healthy and safe for all. These drinks tend to contain other ingredients that can damage our health, especially when consumed in large amounts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn that caffeine, sugars, additives, and legal stimulants designed to boost energy and alertness can have a harmful effect on our central nervous system also increase some health risks, including5:

For the reason, healthy adults should watch their intake of energy drinks - while children, teens, and those with underlying health conditions should avoid them. No matter what taurine supplement benefits are unveiled in the future, good doesn't cancel out bad. Limit your energy drinks and track the amount of caffeine and sugar you're getting from them.

Taurine supplements for people - what's next?

We may not be ready to call taurine an elixir of life just yet, but repeating this recent experiment in human trials can get us closer.

Speaking after this latest data was released, study lead Yadav said: "We need to wait for a large-scale, randomised-controlled trial before taurine supplementation can be safely recommended for people...I think taurine should also be considered, and it has some advantages: Taurine is naturally produced in our bodies, it can be obtained naturally in the diet, it has no known toxic effects - although it's rarely used in concentrations."

These clinical trials would involve several stages and many volunteers, to investigate taurine supplements accurately and safely. It won't happen overnight, but we could be looking at a viable, evidence-based anti-ageing supplement in the future.

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Further reading

  1. Singh et al: Taurine deficiency as a driver of aging.

  2. ScienceDaily: Taurine may be a key to longer and healthier life.

  3. Lawrence and Lawrence: breastfeeding - biochemistry of human milk.

  4. Kurtz et al: Taurine in sports and exercise.

  5. CDC: The Buzz on energy drinks.

Article history

The information on this page is peer reviewed by qualified clinicians.

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