Three Nutrients that Drive Healthy Aging
May 2024 Issue

Three Nutrients that Drive Healthy Aging

Scientists have identified nutrients that correlate with reduced mortality and greater healthspan by modulating multiple mechanisms of aging.

By Michael Downey.

As we age, cellular damage accumulates, chronic conditions crop up, and mortality risks skyrockets.1

In recent years, the following three nutrients were independently shown to delay aging processes and support healthy lifespan in cell and animal studies:

  • The amino acid taurine,
  • The polyamine from wheat-germ spermidine, and
  • The mineral lithium

Seeking confirmation in humans, scientists turned to large epidemiological observational studies.

They found that higher dietary intake correlates with lower mortality and reduced risk of several age-related conditions (also known as increased healthspan).2-7

These findings suggest that supplementation with taurine, lithium, and spermidine may promote healthy aging and longevity.


Taurine is an amino acid found in nearly all tissues.8,9

It is produced in small amounts by the body, but levels drop with age. In epidemiological studies, by human adulthood, taurine production may be inadequate to maintain optimal health.9,10

In the large, over 25-year-long epidemiological study EPIC-Norfolk, researchers found a correlation between higher blood taurine levels and lower risks of various age-associated pathologies.11,12

Another large population study, coordinated by the World Health Organization and spanning 24 populations in 16 countries, showed that higher urinary levels of taurine were associated with lower mortality rates from ischemic stroke.2,13

In human randomized controlled studies, oral taurine intake has been shown to improve markers of health implicated in rapid-onset aging,14-17 along with supporting multiple aspects of cardiovascular health, like blood pressure,18-20 lipid profile,18 fasting glucose,15,21,22 athletic performance,19,23 and cognition.17,24

In animal studies, taurine extends lifespan. Taurine intake:11

  • Increased median lifespan in worms by 23%,
  • Increased median lifespan in mice by up to 12%,
  • Increased life expectancy in elderly mice by up to 25%, and
  • Improved multiple biomarkers of aging in middle-aged monkeys.


Age the Healthy Way

  • Animal and human studies show that higher dietary intake of the nutrients; taurine, spermidine, and lithium is correlated with lower mortality, better health, and increased longevity.
  • In animal studies, each of these compounds substantially increases median lifespan.
  • Human data show that these nutrients inhibit a broad range of age-related diseases and promote healthy aging.


Spermidine is a polyamine (a compound having two or more amino groups) found in all living organisms and many foods, including mushrooms, legumes, corn, and whole grains.25 It is commonly extracted from wheat germ.

Spermidine is also known to mimic the anti-aging effects of caloric restriction, such as support of autophagy (the recycling of old or damaged cell parts, often referred to as "cellular housekeeping").26

In humans, levels of spermidine decline with aging.27

This is a potential problem. Human epidemiological observational studies show higher dietary intake of spermidine is correlated with lower risk of chronic diseases and reduced mortality.  

Spermidine is considered an age-delaying agent that helps protect against chronic disorders and reduce mortality.6,26

Several human observational studies found a correlation between higher dietary intake of spermidine and:5,7,28-30

  • Lower mortality risk,
  • Decreased risk of cardiovascular issues and related mortality,
  • Reduced cognitive impairment risk, and
  • Lower blood pressure.

Pre-clinical studies have demonstrated that spermidine may help dissolve amyloid plaques in the brain by autophagy. This may help with age-related memory decline.

A clinical trial of participants aged 60 – 100 years found that oral spermidine supplementation at doses of 0.9 - 3.3 mg/d (wheat germ extract) improved memory scores as compared to placebo.31

Pre-clinical and clinical evidence has shown that functions aided by spermidine include:6,27,30,32,33

  • Metabolism of lipids,
  • Regulation of cell growth, proliferation, and death,
  • Lowering of inflammation levels,
  • Neuroprotection,
  • Cardioprotection,
  • Enhanced anticancer immune response (in rodent models), and
  • Autophagy.

In animal studies, spermidine intake increases median lifespan by:28,33-37

  • 3-fold in yeast,
  • 30% in flies,
  • 15% in worms, and
  • 10% in old mice.


Lithium is a mineral found in rocks and subsoil in some geographical areas. Some natural water sources contain small amounts of this element.

Pre-clinical evidence has shown that lithium can:38-43

  • Inhibit GSK-3 (glycogen synthase kinase-3), an age-accelerating enzyme,
  • Help maintain longer telomeres (protective caps on the ends of chromosomes tied to increased longevity),
  • Regulate genes related to healthy DNA,
  • Help protect against dysfunctional senescent cells that contribute to age-related disease and accelerated aging,
  • Increase activity of beneficial neurotransmitters,
  • Increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor, a signaling molecule that protects brain cells and augments their function, and
  • Reduce buildup of beta-amyloid, a plaque associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Studies indicate lithium can promote healthy overall aging and reduce mortality.

Lithium administration was shown to increase lifespan in both roundworms and fruit flies. In one study, lithium increased the lifespan of worms by an astonishing 46%.44

In humans, people taking high-dose lithium for medical reasons generally have lower mortality rates, including lower rates of death due to cardiovascular disease.45,46

Other human observational data revealed that the rates of death from Alzheimer's are higher in areas with low levels of lithium in the water.47

Two other observational studies showed that people living in areas with lithium in the drinking water tend to live longer.3,4

How They Work

These three nutrients may beneficially influence the hallmarks of aging in multiple ways.

Taurine promotes DNA repair processes in the body, which help protect against mitochondrial dysfunction, inflammation, and cell senescence.48,49

Spermidine promotes senotherapeutic activity; it targets senescent cells and reduces SASP (senescence-associate secretory phenotype). It not only regulates autophagy and promotes anti-inflammatory activity, but it also suppresses harmful compounds produced by senescent cells.28,32,50-52

Lithium may help prevent the shortening of telomeres associated with aging. By inhibiting the age-accelerating enzyme GSK-3, it supports cell defense and synthesis of the energy source glycogen.38,53

Together, these actions may help reduce the risk of age-associated disease and promote healthy aging.


The compounds taurine, spermidine, and lithium have been shown to potentially slow the aging process, inhibit development of age-related disease, and extend longevity.

Large observational human studies suggest that each of these nutrients prolongs healthy human lifespan.

Taken together, taurine, spermidine, and lithium may have a significant mechanistic benefits on healthy aging.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Wellness Specialist at 1-866-864-3027.


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