Energy Drink Ingredient May Improve Health, Extend Life

No one has ever claimed that energy drinks are a health food. When you think of Monster Energy and Red Bull, you probably picture young people not sleeping enough. But, one ingredient found in many energy drinks improves the health and longevity of worms, mice and monkeys when taken as a supplement. Animal studies don’t always hold true for humans. However, taurine, an amino acid that is often added to energy drinks, has been linked to better immune system function, strong bones and healthy nervous systems in humans.

Taurine naturally occurs in the body. Researchers measured how much taurine was in the blood of aging worms, mice and monkeys and learned that it fell as they aged. When they were given supplemental taurine, their health improved. Female mice lived 12 percent longer, while males lived 10 percent longer. Worms also lived longer and were healthier. After taking taurine, the mice had stronger immune systems and muscles, showed more endurance and expressed less anxiety and depression. The mice also had better blood sugar regulation. The monkeys had healthier livers when taking the supplement. They also had healthier body weights and denser bones.

Younger animals — including humans — can suffer from taurine deficiency. It’s not a problem that only occurs in older people. It can lead to problems with the nervous system, muscles and eyes. All those problems can be associated with age-related changes in the body. Taurine deficiencies as people age may exacerbate and drive deterioration. In the study, researchers saw that the animals’ taurine levels fell by 80 percent or more as they got older.  

Even if the results seen in animals are the same for people, drinking energy drinks won’t net you these results. The amount of taurine the animals were taking would translate to an adult human drinking six cans of Red Bull a day. The amount of caffeine and sugar a person would consume would be deeply unhealthy, if not dangerous. However, the researchers are looking into a human trial to learn how taurine supplements could impact people.

Taurine is sold as a supplement. It’s promoted as a way to support the heart, brain and nervous system. But, without clinical trials in humans, we don’t know if there are any benefits to taking it for longevity. You should always speak to your doctor before adding a supplement to your diet. Taurine is considered safe for daily use for up to three months. But anything beyond that hasn’t been tested. It is found naturally in food and is made in the body, but there aren’t many studies on it. It also interacts with lithium and blood pressure medications. Talking to your doctor, you can decide if taurine is something you would be interested in trying or if it’s a supplement you’d like to hold off on until there is more research.

This study is interesting to us. We like that it looks not just at looking longer but at improving health. We don’t want to live forever in poor health. Knowing that taurine may boost health and longevity at the same time is exciting, and we’re looking forward to hearing more about the research!    

Banner image: Juan Gomez via Pexels

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