Columbia Study: Energy Drink Ingredient Taurine May Boost Health and Slow Aging

Taurine Supplementation Increases Healthy Life Span

Taurine supplementation increases healthy life span. In the picture, the bull depicts taurine (The word taurine originates from Taurus bull; Urine, because it was first identified in the urine of bull) which is reversing the clock of aging increasing health span and life span. Credit: Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Research from Columbia University suggests that a deficiency in the nutrient taurine may drive aging in animals, with supplementation showing the potential to slow aging and extend healthy lifespans. The study found taurine levels decrease significantly with age and supplementation led to substantial health improvements in mice and monkeys. Human trials are needed to confirm these findings.

A deficiency of taurine—a nutrient produced in the body and found in many foods—is a driver of aging in animals, according to a new study led by Columbia researchers and involving dozens of aging researchers around the world.

Taurine is a common ingredient in energy drinks, including brands like Red Bull, Monster Energy, Rockstar, NOS, Full Throttle, and AMP.  Taurine supplement pills are also available, providing the nutrient without the caffeine, sweeteners, and other ingredients in energy drinks.

The same study also found that taurine supplements can slow down the aging process in worms, mice, and monkeys and can even extend the healthy lifespans of middle-aged mice by up to 12%.

The study was published on June 8 in the journal Science.

“For the last 25 years, scientists have been trying to find factors that not only let us live longer, but also increase healthspan, the time we remain healthy in our old age,” says the study’s leader, Vijay Yadav, PhD, assistant professor of genetics & development at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“This study suggests that taurine could be an elixir of life within us that helps us live longer and healthier lives.”

Taurine May Be a Key to Longer and Healthier Life

Taurine supplementation increases healthy life span. In the illustration an old man is seen walking through a taurine shower and coming out as rejuvenated healthy man. Taurine structure is depicted as a ball and stick model in the taurine shower. Credit: Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Anti-aging molecules within us

Over the past two decades, efforts to identify interventions that improve health in old age have intensified as people are living longer and scientists have learned that the aging process can be manipulated.

Many studies have found that various molecules carried through the bloodstream are associated with aging. Less certain is whether these molecules actively direct the aging process or are just passengers going along for the ride. If a molecule is a driver of aging, then restoring its youthful levels would delay aging and increase healthspan, the years we spend in good health.

A study led by Columbia researchers finds that a deficiency of taurine, a molecule produced in our bodies, drives aging, and taurine supplements can improve health and increase lifespan in animals. Credit: Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Taurine first came into Yadav’s view during his previous research into osteoporosis that uncovered taurine’s role in building bone. Around the same time, other researchers were finding that taurine levels correlated with immune function, obesity, and nervous system functions.

“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,” Yadav says.

Taurine Supplementation Makes Animals Healthier and Live Longer

Taurine supplementation makes animals healthier and live longer. Credit: Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Taurine declines with age, supplementation increases lifespan in mice

First, Yadav’s team looked at levels of taurine in the bloodstream of mice, monkeys, and people and found that the taurine abundance decreases substantially with age. In people, taurine levels in 60-year-old individuals were only about one-third of those found in 5-year-olds.

“That’s when we started to ask if taurine deficiency is a driver of the aging process, and we set up a large experiment with mice,” Yadav says.

The researchers started with close to 250 14-month-old female and male mice (about 45 years old in people terms). Every day, the researcher fed half of them a bolus of taurine or a control solution. At the end of the experiment, Yadav and his team found that taurine increased average lifespan by 12% in female mice and 10% in males. For the mice, that meant three to four extra months, equivalent to about seven or eight human years.

Taurine Abundance Declines With Age

Taurine abundance declines with age. Credit: Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Taurine supplements in middle age improve health in old age

To learn how taurine impacted health, Yadav brought in other aging researchers who investigated the effect of taurine supplementation on the health and lifespan in several species.

These experts measured various health parameters in mice and found that at age 2 (60 in human years), animals supplemented with taurine for one year were healthier in almost every way than their untreated counterparts.

The researchers found that taurine suppressed age-associated weight gain in female mice (even in “menopausal” mice), increased energy expenditure, increased bone mass, improved muscle endurance and strength, reduced depression-like and anxious behaviors, reduced insulin resistance, and promoted a younger-looking immune system, among other benefits.

“Not only did we find that the animals lived longer, we also found that they’re living healthier lives,” Yadav says.

Taurine Deficiency Associates With Poor Health

Taurine deficiency associates with poor health. Credit: Columbia University Irving Medical Center

At a cellular level, taurine improved many functions that usually decline with age: The supplement decreased the number of “zombie cells” (old cells that should die but instead linger and release harmful substances), increased survival after telomerase deficiency, increased the number of stem cells present in some tissues (which can help tissues heal after injury), improved the performance of mitochondria, reduced DNA damage, and improved the cells‘ ability to sense nutrients.

Similar health effects of taurine supplements were seen in middle-aged rhesus monkeys, which were given daily taurine supplements for six months. Taurine prevented weight gain, reduced fasting blood glucose and markers of liver damage, increased bone density in the spine and legs, and improved the health of their immune systems.

Exercise Increases Taurine Levels

A bout of exercise increases taurine levels. Credit: Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Randomized clinical trial needed

The researchers do not know yet if taurine supplements will improve health or increase longevity in humans, but two experiments they conducted suggest taurine has potential.

In the first, Yadav and his team looked at the relationship between taurine levels and approximately 50 health parameters in 12,000 European adults aged 60 and over. Overall, people with higher taurine levels were healthier, with fewer cases of type 2 diabetes, lower obesity levels, reduced hypertension, and lower levels of inflammation. “These are associations, which do not establish causation,” Yadav says, “but the results are consistent with the possibility that taurine deficiency contributes to human aging.”

The second study tested if taurine levels would respond to an intervention known to improve health: exercise. The researchers measured taurine levels before and after a variety of male athletes and sedentary individuals finished a strenuous cycling workout and found a significant increase in taurine among all groups of athletes (sprinters, endurance runners, and natural bodybuilders) and sedentary individuals.

“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 says.

Only a randomized clinical trial in people will determine if taurine truly has health benefits, Yadav adds. Taurine trials are currently underway for obesity, but none are designed to measure a wide range of health parameters.

Other potential anti-aging drugs—including metformin, rapamycin, and NAD analogs—are being considered for testing in clinical trials.

“I think taurine should also be considered,” Yadav says. “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 used ­­­), and it can be boosted by exercise.

“Taurine abundance goes down with age, so restoring taurine to a youthful level in old age may be a promising anti-aging strategy.”

For more on this research, see Study Finds Taurine Supplement Improves Health and Longevity.

Reference: “Taurine deficiency as a driver of aging” by Parminder Singh, Kishore Gollapalli, Stefano Mangiola, Daniela Schranner, Mohd Aslam Yusuf, Manish Chamoli, Sting L. Shi, Bruno Lopes Bastos, Tripti Nair, Annett Riermeier, Elena M. Vayndorf, Judy Z. Wu, Aishwarya Nilakhe, Christina Q. Nguyen, Michael Muir, Michael G. Kiflezghil, Anna Foulger, Alex Junker, Jack Devine, Kunal Sharan, Shankar J. Chinta, Swati Rajput, Anand Rane, Philipp Baumert, Martin Schönfelder, Francescopaolo lavarone, Giorgia di Lorenzo, Swati Kumari, Alka Gupta, Rajesh Sarkar, Costerwell Khyriem, Amanpreet S. Chawla, Ankur Sharma, Nazan Sarper, Naibedya Chattopadhyay, Bichitra K. Biswal, Carmine Settembre, Perumal Nagarajan, Kimara L. Targoff, Martin Picard, Sarika Gupta, Vidya Velagapudi, Anthony T. Papenfuss, Alaattin Kaya, Miguel Godinho Ferreiral, Brian K. Kennedy, Julie K. Andersen, Gordon J. Lithgow, Abdullah Mahmood Ali, Arnab Mukhopadhyay, Aarno Palotie, Gabi Kastenmiller, Matt Kaeberlein, Henning Wackerhage, Bhupinder Pal and Vijay K. Yadav, 9 June 2023, Science.
DOI: 10.1126/science.abn9257

This work was funded by the Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in the Basic Biology of Aging Project; National Institutes of Health (R01HD107574, P30AG013280, T32AG066574); Wellcome (098051); Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (450149205-TRR333/1); Institut National Du Cancer (PLBIO21-228 ); Science and Engineering Research Board (STR/2019/00064); Department of Biotechnology (BT/PR40325/BTIS/137/1/2020); a Longevity Impetus Grant; Academy of Finland Center of Excellence in Complex Disease Genetics (312074, 336824, and 352793); The Sigrid Juselius Foundation; a Larry L. Hillblom Foundation Fellowship; Victorian Cancer Agency (ECRF21036 and MCRF21002); and a DBT Ramalingaswamy Fellowship.

Columbia University has filed provision patent applications on which Vijay Yadav is listed as an inventor. The remaining authors declare no competing interests.

2 Comments on "Columbia Study: Energy Drink Ingredient Taurine May Boost Health and Slow Aging"

  1. Taurine raises blood pressure. Not only in myself, but others I’ve talked to had elevated BP after drinking an energy drink with taurine. That’s the only way I’ve seen it, so this is just experiential from energy drinks that contain it. My Dr told me to avoid anything that contains it. I’ve already had at least one heart attack and a CABG x 4 surgery. So those without heart issues may be fine with it. I’d like to see more studies relating to taurine and heart disease.

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