The mice gained less weight, had stronger muscles, were less anxious and showcased multiple improvements on a 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 average life span of the mice by 12 percent for females and 10 percent for males. The supplement had a similar impact on worm longevity.
The researchers also found supporting evidence for the anti-aging potential of taurine in people by analyzing two data sets. One, involving nearly 12,000 middle-aged individuals living in eastern England, showed a connection between low taurine levels and diseases such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension. The other, involving athletes from Germany, found that high-intensity exercise could naturally enhance taurine levels — which could account for some of the anti-aging benefits of physical activity.
What taurine does inside the body isn’t yet clear. Experiments in mice and worms point to a role for taurine in maintaining the health of mitochondria, energy-producing factories inside each cell. But more work is needed, noted Christy Carter, a health scientist administrator at the National Institute on Aging. “We are not sure how it’s working,” she said.
Biohackers and longevity seekers aren’t likely to wait for those scientific insights before adding taurine to their supplement stacks.
“This paper is very thorough and convincing,” said Nick Engerer, the founder of the Longevity Blog, who is based in Byron Bay, Australia. “This makes taurine a lead contender for something you might try at home for your own longevity.”
But most clinicians and longevity scientists urged against guzzling energy drinks or adding taurine powder to protein shakes until more well-controlled human data are available. “I’m constantly telling people: Hold fire until we do the clinical trials,” said Dr. James Kirkland, a geriatrician at the Mayo Clinic, who is leading 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.