by Nils Osmar. June 9, 2023, This post is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. See full Medical Disclaimer
Taurine has been in the news recently because of a Columbia University study showing that it has a potent anti-aging, life extending effect in animals.
Even news sources which usually use snide, derogatory headlines to describe compounds that increase lifespan (such as “Sure, this compound will help you live longer – if you’re a rat or monkey! Otherwise, forget it!”) , have been paying attention to the study in the past few days.
As the study‘s authors put it:
Blood concentration of taurine declines with age in mice, monkeys, and humans. To investigate whether this decline contributes to aging, we orally fed taurine or a control solution once daily to middle-aged wild-type female and male C57Bl/6J mice until the end of life.
Taurine-fed mice of both sexes survived longer than the control mice. The median life span of taurine-treated mice increased by 10 to 12%, and life expectancy at 28 months increased by about 18 to 25%.
A meaningful antiaging therapy should not only improve life span but also health span, the period of healthy living. We, therefore, investigated the health of taurine-fed middle-aged mice and found an improved functioning of bone, muscle, pancreas, brain, fat, gut, and immune system, indicating an overall increase in health span. We observed similar effects in monkeys. To check whether the observed effects of taurine transcended the species boundary, we investigated whether taurine supplementation increased life span in worms and yeast.,…
Other benefits of taurine
To be clear, the study does not prove that taking taurine will increase lifespan in human beings. (It would take longer than a human lifespan, and the ability to control a human’s diet in a laboratory setting for decades, to establish whether or not that’s true.) But taurine does have other well-established health benefits in humans. For example:
- It activates and increases autophagy
- Some studies suggest it may be protective against stroke.
- It’s been found to reduce stress and promote mood improvement.
- Low levels of taurine are associated with greater obesity
- It’s been used as an ergogenic aid to increase cellular energy and improve athletic performance.
- It appears to offer neuroprotective benefits due to its anti-inflammatory effects. It’s been proposed as a possible treatment those at risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.
- It protects aagainst inflammation, apoptosis, and oxidative stress in brain injury
Taurine for heart health
Taurine has been found to be cytoprotective and has been used as a therapeutic agent against heart failure. (It’s been approved for the treatment of congestive heart failure in Japan) According to a 2018 study:
Taurine is an essential nutrient but in man it is considered a semi-essential nutrient, although cells lacking taurine show major pathology. These findings have spurred interest in the potential use of taurine as a therapeutic agent.
The discovery that taurine is an effective therapy against congestive heart failure led to the study of taurine as a therapeutic agent against other disease conditions. Today, taurine has been approved for the treatment of congestive heart failure in Japan and shows promise in the treatment of several other diseases.
The present review summarizes studies supporting a role of taurine in the treatment of diseases of muscle, the central nervous system, and the cardiovascular system. In addition, taurine is extremely effective in the treatment of the mitochondrial disease, mitochondrial encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes (MELAS), and offers a new approach for the treatment of metabolic diseases, such as diabetes, and inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis.
Taurine and estrogen
Like many compounds, taurine’s effects can differ according to our cellular biology. In women, it’s been found to increase luteinizing hormone and help regulate the production (and detoxification) of estrogen. According to a 2022 study: “Taurine, acting as a free amino acid, is widely distributed and plays multiple functions, including its regulating effect on estrogen synthesis.”
Does this mean it’s estrogenic to men? Actually, the opposite:
Taurine and testosterone
In addition to its other benefits, taurine has been shown to increase testosterone production in males, while not raising the concentration of estradiol, an estrogenic hormone. According to a study published in Frontiers in Endocrinolgy,
Taurine, a sulfur-containing amino acid, has a wide range of biological effects, such as bile salt formation, osmotic regulation, oxidative stress inhibition, immunomodulation and neuromodulation.
Taurine has been proved to be synthesized and abundant in male reproductive organs. Recently, accumulating data showed that taurine has a potential protective effect on reproductive function of male animals.
In physiology, taurine can promote the endocrine function of the hypothalamus-pituitary-testis (HPT) axis, testicular tissue development, spermatogenesis and maturation, delay the aging of testicular structure and function, maintain the homeostasis of the testicular environment, and enhance sexual ability. In pathology, taurine supplement may be beneficial to alleviate pathological damage of male reproductive system, including oxidative damage of sperm preservation in vitro, testicular reperfusion injury and diabetes -induced reproductive complications.
In addition, taurine acts as a protective agent against toxic damage to the male reproductive system by exogenous substances (e.g., therapeutic drugs, environmental pollutants, radiation).
- Taurine is available as an inexpensive nutritional supplement. (The taurine I buy is made by Jarrow.)
- For those who prefer getting nutrients from food, it is only found in animal-based foods
The best food sources include:
- seafood, including mussels, clams, squid, and octopus
- turkey and chicken (dark meat)
- white fish and tuna
- pork loin
- cured meats
What I’m doing
I’m currently eating an omnivorous diet which is high in all of the foods above. I also take four capsules of taurine per day.
Not medical advice
This article is not intended as, and should not be taken as, medical advice. I’m not advising that people eat any particular diet or take any particular supplement(s), just reporting on what I’m doing. Supplements, like medications and other interventions, can have side effects; I would encourage people to research both possible benefits and side effects before starting on any supplementation regimen, and consult with a medical professional about any issues which might have a medical component. See full Medical Disclaimer
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