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Taurine, could it really slow aging?

Karen Jensen, ND

Special to the Village News

Taurine is a semi-essential amino acid typically found in high concentrations in humans and prevalent in youth. But as a person ages, taurine levels decline. Supplementing with taurine reverses this decline, and preliminary animal studies show that taurine could be the key to living a longer and healthier life. Taurine is in meats, fish, dairy and some energy drinks.

Besides living longer, animals supplemented with taurine scored better on almost every parameter, including improved muscle strength and endurance, stronger bones, increased energy, improved glucose homeostasis and fewer signs of depression or anxiety-like behaviors.

Taurine slows vital markers of aging, such as increased DNA damage, telomerase deficiency, impaired mitochondrial function and cellular aging. Sounds pretty good, right? Well, doctors think so; however, aging is an inevitable multifactorial process associated with physiological changes in every cell in the body. But supplements such as taurine can and will help keep cells healthier and functioning more efficiently as people age.

Benefits of taurine

Promotes mitochondrial health. Mitochondria are tiny organelles inside cells that release energy from food and are the cell’s powerhouses. Compromised mitochondrial function, because of oxidative stress, leads to an elevated level of reactive oxygen species that damage fats, proteins, and DNA in the body, resulting in many pathologies. A variety of factors, including poor nutrition and toxic chemicals in our food and environment, cause mitochondrial dysfunction. Taurine protects mitochondria from ROS and cellular damage.

Protects the brain from various neurological disorders. In one animal study, taurine was added to drinking water for six weeks; it was shown to improve cognitive impairment and demonstrated neuroprotective properties against many forms of dementia. In addition, taurine has shown some ameliorating effects against stroke, epilepsy, and diabetic neuropathy and protects against injuries and toxicities of the nervous system.

Prevents inflammatory conditions. Research consistently confirms that most chronic diseases have inflammation as an underlying contributing factor. The more one can do to minimize inflammation, the better. Nutrients such as curcumin, omega-3s, bromelain and boswellia have anti-inflammatory properties. Recent studies could add taurine to this list to help prevent inflammatory disease.

Helps prevent congestive heart failure. The discovery that taurine is an effective therapy against congestive heart failure has led to the study of taurine as a therapeutic agent against other disease conditions. In Japan, taurine is used to treat congestive heart failure, and it shows promise in treating diseases of muscle, the central nervous system and the cardiovascular system.

According to some studies, taurine possesses antidepressant and anxiolytic activities.

The studies are new but promising. Supplementing your diet with taurine will improve muscle strength, keep your bones strong, improve energy levels and might be the twentieth-century fountain of youth.

Karen Jensen, ND, was in clinical practice for 25 years and although she is retired, she continues to write books and educate on the naturopathic approach to wellness. She is the author or co-author of seven books, her most recent is “Women’s Health Matters: The Influence of Gender on Disease.”

 

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