The mice gained less weight, had stronger muscles, were less anxious and showed multiple improvements at the cellular level, including a reduction in the number of so-called zombie cells, old cells that stop dividing but continue to wreak havoc on neighboring tissues. Taurine also increased the mice’s average lifespan by 12 percent for females and 10 percent for males. The supplement had a similar effect on worm lifespan.
The researchers also found supporting evidence for taurine’s anti-aging potential in humans by analyzing two data sets. One, involving nearly 12,000 middle-aged individuals in eastern England, showed a link between low taurine levels and diseases such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension. The other, involving athletes from Germany, found that intense exercise could naturally increase taurine levels – which could explain some of the anti-aging benefits of physical activity.
What taurine does in the body is not yet clear. Experiments on mice and worms point to a role for taurine in keeping mitochondria, energy-producing factories in every cell, healthy. But more work is needed, noted Christy Carter, an administrator of health scientists at the National Institute on Aging. “We’re not sure how it works,” she said.
Biohackers and longevity seekers probably won’t wait for those scientific insights before adding taurine to their supplement stacks.
“This article is very thorough and compelling,” said Nick Engerer, the founder of Longevity Blog, based in Byron Bay, Australia. “This makes taurine a major contender for something you could try at home for your own longevity.”
But most clinicians and longevity scientists urged not to slurp energy drinks or add taurine powder to protein shakes until more well-controlled human data is available. “I’m constantly telling people, hold the fire until we get the clinical trials done,” said Dr. James Kirkland, a geriatrician at the Mayo Clinic who leads anti-aging studies with other compounds.
David Sinclair, a longevity researcher at Harvard Medical School, is more open to self-experimentation outside of a trial protocol. On his podcast and in his 2019 book, he regularly discusses his own cocktail of anti-aging supplements.