Welcome everyone to another edition of the Doctor’s Note where we talk about what’s on our minds when it comes to your health.
This week I was reading the Wall Street Journal and came across an article that talked about an amino acid that may help slow down the aging process. This obviously perked up my ears. Anything that increases your health span, I’m interested in! Reading on, I found out it was Taurine, the same energy boosting ingredient found in energy drinks such as RED BULL, PRIME ENERGY, ROCKSTAR, 5 HOUR ENERGY, FULL THROTTLE, etc. Now, we are talking!
How does that work for anti-aging? Let’s dive into what the researchers are saying.
SCIENCE, Taurine Deficiency As A Drive Of Aging, Published June 8, 2023
This study, conducted by Vijay Yadav, Ph.D. and a team of researchers at Columbia University, has revealed that taurine, a nutrient found in meat, fish, dairy and some energy drinks, seems to slow the aging process and extend healthy lifespans.
Yadav has been studying taurine for 10 years. In his research, he found that boosting levels of taurine made mice and worms live longer. Monkeys, who were also given taurine, became healthier. Note: We study a lot of things with humans and mice. Physiologically, mice are very much like humans, with similar body functions such as blood cell production, digestion, respiration and the cardiovascular system. Mice and humans respond similarly when they are sick or undergo treatment.
The research team studied various molecules that decreased as people age. In humans, low levels of taurine were found to be associated with age related problems. Note: We look at this all the time. Most things go down as you age, including hormones, vitamin levels, and the amino acids in your body. Look at what happens with melatonin in your body. It decreases with age, because most things do!
They learned that out of all the molecules studied, there was one that went down dramatically, taurine. In fact, 80% lower in the elderly, than in the younger generation. With this information, they theorized that declining levels of taurine could drive aging, and boosting taurine could slow down aging. This affected the health and lifespan of every organism they studied except for one (yeast). Mice in particular lived longer and appeared healthier.
What is Taurine?
Taurine is an amino acid found naturally in the human body (in the eyes, brain and heart). Concentrated primarily in the heart and brain. You can also get it from eating certain protein-rich foods, like meat and seafood.
Taurine accounts for over half the body’s free amino acid pool in your body, which means it has a big job to do! However, taurine is different from most amino acids in that it’s never incorporated into proteins. We think of strings of amino acids being incorporated into proteins, but taurine doesn’t do that. It’s used in other ways.
Taurine is a SEMI-essential nutrient. This means you can get it from your diet and through whatever your body makes. Note: You won’t get taurine in your diet if you’re a vegan, because plants don’t produce it. This is another reason that, for most people, I don’t particularly like a vegan or vegetarian diet.
Taurine functions as an antioxidant. It supports energy metabolism. It supports healthy gene expression. It protects against stress. Taurine is in energy drinks because it helps your mitochondria work properly. We talk about mitochondrial health all the time. Most people come to see me because they are fatigued. This is why I’m so big on mitochondrial health.
Health Benefits of Taurine
Taurine has many health benefits. Here are a few:
- It definitely helps with energy and athletic performance. A lot of athletes take this supplement.
- It helps with cognitive function as you age, especially with learning and memory. In many ways it acts like a neurotransmitter (it’s neuroprotective). We’re all looking for that!
- It helps to metabolize carbohydrates and fats. In other words, if you ate a donut, it would help to metabolize it better and get out of your system. Note: You should not eat donuts!
- It protects your retina.
- It increases your VO2 Max. This is the most important measure for how fit you are.
- It supports healthy blood pressure.
- It protects your kidneys.
- It helps with congestive heart failure.
- It also helps cells balance their water content.
- It helps the liver’s production of bile. They actually discovered this amino acid from ox bile. It’s really good for your digestion.
- It helps with insulin sensitivity. We talk a lot about insulin resistance. What we want is insulin sensitivity so your insulin works better to control your blood sugars and prevent glycation. A lot of weight is dependent on how insulin sensitive you are, and how well the insulin in your body works.
How Do We Get Taurine?
Taurine is found in meat, seafood, and eggs. You can also supplement with it (which I do). You can safely take up to 6,000 mg daily, but I usually recommend around 1,000 mg, as a supplement. Note: Be careful if you’re on the medical prescription lithium (not just the low dose salt). If you’re on prescription lithium, there may be an interaction with that.
If you’re on blood pressure medicine (and taking taurine), be sure to watch it because it will lower your blood pressure, which is a good thing. It also lowers your cholesterol, triglycerides, and C-Reactive Protein, the all important inflammatory marker.
Make sure your mitochondria are functioning well. It’s your mitochondria that are ultimately responsible for your mental and physical energy at the cellular level. Diet and nutrition, good sleep habits, exercise, and reducing stress all help your mitochondria produce more ATP, which gives you more energy! Also, think about supplementing with taurine.
Taurine is a safe and wonderful supplement (especially if you’re tired), but that doesn’t mean you should get it from Red Bull! Rather, you should choose protein-rich foods that contain taurine, and supplement if need be.
Think about taurine. You’ll probably want to add it to your regimen.
Till next week.