Taurine, not telomeres, could be the key to a longer lifespan.

Science Alert reports on research that finds that boosting levels of the amino acid taurine – present in meat, fish, and dairy, and one that our bodies can be trained to produce on their own – helps protect against the physiological effects of aging, including the loss of muscle, bone, and memory:

An international team of researchers found that taurine supplements delayed aging in worms, mice, and monkeys, and increased the healthy lifespan of middle-aged mice by up to 12 percent.

“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,” says biologist Vijay Yadav from Columbia University, senior author on the study.

Taurine levels were found to decrease with age in a variety of species, including humans, by an estimated 80 percent over the course of a typical human life.

But when oral taurine supplements was given to middle-aged worms and mice, their median lifespans increased by 10-23 percent and 10-12 percent, respectively.

In mice, taurine supplementation improved strength, coordination, memory, and aging markers. Mice who were missing the main transporter that takes the amino acid into the cells lived shorter lives as adults.

When taurine was given to middle-aged rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) for six months, there were noticeable improvements in their bone density, blood sugar levels, and markers of liver and immune function.

Large, long-term human randomized control trials are needed, and although no toxic effects are known to be associated with taurine, the doses used in the study have rarely been used in humans.

Incredible advancements in medical science mean our population is living longer, and increasing quality of life is important too. Scientists have previously found clues to aging ‘gracefully’ in telomeres and poop transplants, and now taurine looks promising.

“Although it is difficult to say at the present time whether taurine supplementation is going to be an anti-aging therapy based on our studies in several species and our intervention in monkeys, it is reasonable to test it at least,” Yadav says.

You can read the taurine research here, in Science. If you’re just curious about the dosage used, it’s “orally administered control solution or taurine at 1000 mg per kg body weight (T1000), once daily at 10:00 am, to 14-month-old (middle-aged) C57Bl/6J WT female and male mice until the end of life.” That works out to around 100 grams for an average adult male human, unless my math is off.