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Scientists believe energy drink ingredient taurine could be the secret to slowing down ageing

Scientists think the key to anti-ageing might lie in taurine
Scientists think the key to anti-ageing might lie in taurine Copyright Unsplash
Copyright Unsplash
By Sarah Palmer
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The newest scientific discovery in the race against ageing is a popular ingredient in caffeinated energy drinks.

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Scientists are calling for a major clinical trial on taurine after it has been proven to slow the ageing process and extend the lifespan of mice by up to 10 per cent.

The micronutrient can be naturally found in meat, fish and dairy products, but it’s also most notably used in caffeinated energy drinks.

After seeing the results taurine use had in mice, researchers would now like to progress their findings on humans.

What is taurine?

Taurine is a chemical which falls into a group known as amino acids. It naturally occurs in foods with protein, like animal products. It’s one of the micronutrients that supports cell function and especially helps energy production.

It does that by supporting the health of mitochondria in cells, which are responsible for charging the cells with energy.

How do scientists think taurine affects ageing?

In the experiment, scientists from Columbia University in New York, the US, gave a daily dose of taurine to mice. 

The results were published in the Journal of Science and showed male mice’s lifespans increased by 10 per cent taking the supplement, while females increased by approximately 12 per cent.

This improved lifespan also occurred in monkeys and worms.

As part of the project, the researchers analysed 12,000 people and found those with more taurine in their blood were, in general, healthier.

But what is it about taurine that makes scientists think it is "an elixir of life"?

Taurine is something that occurs naturally in the human body, but as we get older, the levels naturally decrease.

"Taurine abundance declines with age and reversal of this decline makes animals live longer and healthier lives," said Dr Vijay Yadav, who led the research team at Columbia’s Irving Medical Center.

"At the end of the day, these findings should be relevant to humans".

Yadav and the team first noticed taurine as a potential catalyst of ageing over a decade ago, when they found that the average 60-year-old displays taurine levels measuring just a third of those that can be found in a 5-year-old.

But right now, there is still a lot of work to be done to fully understand how taurine might impact ageing.

It’s important to note that while testing on humans is yet to commence, the researchers from Columbia University advise people against proactively increasing their taurine to combat ageing until we know more.

A wider trial is needed to determine the pros and cons of a high taurine intake.

In an interview with the BBC, Yadav declined to disclose whether or not he himself takes taurine supplements, saying, "let us wait for the clinical trials to be completed before recommending to the wider population that they go to the shelf in a grocery store and buy taurine".

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