Taurine, a nutrient produced naturally in our bodies and also found in protein supplements, can slow down the aging process, a new study led by Columbia researchers shows.

"For the last 25 years, scientists have been trying to find factors that not only let us live longer, but also increase health span, the time we remain healthy in our old age," study lead Vijay Yadav, an assistant professor of genetics and development at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, told Medical Express. "This study suggests that taurine could be an elixir of life within us that helps us live longer and healthier lives."

The study was published June 8 in Science.

Multiple studies have proved that molecules present in the bloodstream are linked to aging. Aside from this, factors like genetic makeup, nutrition and other factors also cause skin aging.

If a molecule is indeed a driver of aging, restoring it to its youthful levels could potentially reverse the effects.

"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 said.

His team's research was modeled on a previous study that found that taurine plays a crucial role in bone formation. Researchers also noticed a link between taurine levels and immune function, obesity and the functioning of the nervous system.

The research team found that taurine deficiency increases with age. "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 noted.

As part of the study, researchers gave taurine to mice that were about 14 months old and noticed that their average lifespan increased by a significant amount. The female mice lived 12% longer, while the male ones lived 10% longer. They also found mice that were supplemented with taurine were healthier compared to the others.

Furthermore, it prevented weight gain in mice, promoted stronger bones and reduced insulin resistance and anxious behaviors.

"I think taurine should also be considered," Yadav said. "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," he explained.

Girl with energy drink
Consumption of caffeine and taurine energy drinks spike heart contractions per hour. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com.