One way t0 increase your odds of living longer in better health is to add a geroprotective compound called spermidine to either your diet or your supplement regimen, or both.
Spermidine’s name comes from the fact that it was originally isolated from semen. Its one of several beneficial biological compounds called polyamines. According to an article called Polyamines in Food published in Frontiers in Nutrition,
The polyamines spermine, spermidine, and putrescine are involved in various biological processes, notably in cell proliferation and differentiation, and also have antioxidant properties. Dietary polyamines have important implications in human health, mainly in the intestinal maturation and in the differentiation and development of immune system. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect of polyamine can also play an important role in the prevention of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases.
Spermidine has been found to:
- Promote autophagy, clearing debris from our cells.
- Dissolve amyloid beta plaques in the brain.
- Improve memory and cognition.
- Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Preserve telomere length.
- Maintain cell membrane integrity.
- Prevent memory loss in aging subjects.
- Reduce the risk of cancer.
- Improve the efficacy of vaccines.
- Extend lifespan in lab animals.
Re: the life extension benefit, it is significant. According to Leyuan Liu, assistant professor at the Texas A&M Institute of Biosciences, the effect in lab animals is “a dramatic increase… as much as 25 percent, In human terms, that would mean instead of living to about 81 years old, the average American could live to be over 100.”
So – assuming that it has the same benefit in humans – taking spermidine alone could have a potent life-extending effect, if Liu and others are correct.
Foods rich in spermidine and other polyamines include:
- wheat germ (20 mg/100 grams)
- broccoli (5 mg/100 grams)
- mushrooms of all sorts (8 or 9 mg/100 grams)
- mature (aged) cheese (such as cheddar, brie and parmesan) (1o mg/100 grams)
- natto (fermented soy) (10-20 mg per 100 grams)
- green peas (3.2 mg/100 grams)
- lentils (2.5 mg/100 grams)
Note: Some databases give slightly different figures.
Are the Supplements Worth It?
Spermidine supplements are becoming a huge business. I have nothing against them, but I would say that if you take it that way, make sure to look carefully at amount you’re really getting.
One company which sells on Amazon claims to have 800 mg per capsule. This would be phenomenal if it were accurate. But if you go to their website and read the fine print (which takes some digging) you’ll find that they’re really referring to the amount of wheat germ. The amount of spermidine per capsule is only 0.5 mg!
What I’m Doing
I consider spermidine a key anti-aging compound, so I try to include foods that are rich in it in my diet. My goal is to get 20 to 25 mg per day. I eat aged cheeses such as cheddar and brie and several kinds of mushrooms including shiitake, miitake, and oyster mushrooms, and broccoli, lentils and green beans.
I am also currently taking a spermidine supplement. The one I take, from DoNotAge, has 4 mg per capsule, or 8 mg per two-capsule serving. I view supplements as sort of insurance policy; they’re there for when I may be running low on the foods that are richest in polyamines. So I may end up taking them two or three days a week. But I’m still trying to get most of my daily spermidine intake from food, not from capsules.