Are energy drinks the secret to a longer life?
Research by scientists from across the world has suggested taurine, one of the ingredients found in many energy drinks, could be ‘the elixir of life’ and help us to live longer.
The study, led by Columbia University Irving Medical Centre, and published in esteemed journal Science, found that taurine supplements can slow down the aging process in worms, mice, and monkeys and can even extend the healthy lifespans of middle-aged mice by up to 12%. It also suggests a deficiency of taurine — a nutrient produced in the body and found in many foods — is a driver of aging in animals.
Taurine, which is found in many energy drinks, including Red Bull, Monster, Rock Star, Relentless and other brands, was first identified by the study’s leader Vijay Yadav when researching osteoporosis, where he discovered its role in building bone, while other scientists also discovered taurine levels correlated with immune function, obesity and nervous system functions.
Yadav said: “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.”
First, Yadav’s team looked at levels of taurine in the bloodstream of mice, monkeys, and people and found that the taurine abundance decreases substantially with age. In people, taurine levels in 60-year-old individuals were only about one-third of those found in 5-year-olds.
At the end of an experiment on mice, Yadav and his team found that taurine increased average lifespan by 12% in female mice and 10% in males. For the mice, that meant three to four extra months, equivalent to about seven or eight human years.
It also found that in middle age mice who were supplemented with taurine were one year healthier than their counterparts, and it suppressed age-associated weight gain in female mice, increased energy expenditure, increased bone mass, improved muscle endurance and strength, reduced depression-like and anxious behaviors, reduced insulin resistance, and promoted a younger-looking immune system, among other benefits.
At a cellular level, taurine also improved many functions that usually decline with age, the study said.
“Not only did we find that the animals lived longer, we also found that they’re living healthier lives,” Yadav continued. “For the last 25 years, scientists have been trying to find factors that not only let us live longer, but also increase healthspan, the time we remain healthy in our old age.
“This study suggests that taurine could be an elixir of life within us that helps us live longer and healthier lives.”
Only a randomized clinical trial in people will determine if taurine truly has health benefits, Yadav added.
Taurine trials are currently underway for obesity, but none are designed to measure a wide range of health parameters.