Taurine and the Longevity of the Japanese

November 26, 2021

Taurine, and the Longevity of the Japanese

If I told you that I can explain the major reason some folks didn't get strokes or heart attacks, you would push me away and challenge me. No way! I get asked that question all the time. Why do women live longer? Why are the Japanese so resilient? Taurine is at least one of the answers. We should know about taurine.

It is an amino acid. Simple. But we don't use it to make proteins. Instead, it appears to be a crucial signal modulation chemical. It does contain sulfur atoms and carries a negative charge. That gives it some unique functions. Deficiency in taurine leads to cardiomyopathy in many animals, and likely in humans. Supplementation of it appears to naturally help resolve atrial fibrillation. It plays a role in modulating osmolality, the concentration of serum. It has anti-oxidant functions. It plays a huge role, and some argue primary, in bile acid excretion, thereby reducing serum cholesterol. And last, but probably not least, it modulates the balance and role of plasmalogen lipids. And that may be the key!

Seaweed has been shown to have >600 mg per 100 grams of taurine. Compare that to oysters (396 mg), fish (130 mg), beef (43.1 mg), chicken (17.8 mg), pork (61.2 mg), and lamb (43.8 mg), and virtually zero from most vegetables. Some seeds and nutshave levels below 10 mg per 100 grams. If you then examine the societies that eat lots of seaweed and seafood (Japan and Korea) and heard that the Japanese average seafood consumption in Japan is up to 580 g/week compared to the Western world (USA: as low as 63 g/week) you start to understand a critical nutrient difference between the two that might have a salutary effect. When examining the epidemiological effect of taurine, some 61% of the beneficial variation from stroke or heart attach can be explained by the "taurine, salt, BMI, cholesterol" variables, with taurine being the uniquely Japanese issue. It should be noted that the Mediterranean diet is also a high taurine diet, perhaps explaining their cardiac benefit as well.

Where do you want to get your taurine from? Well, you can get lots of it in all sorts of energy drinks. But at the end of the day, the best sources are seafood, with shellfish being the champions. If you are a vegan, taurine deficiency is a real issue. Nuts and seeds have tiny levels, and some beans carry a little tiny bit.

And can we really ascribe just what taurine does that makes those plucky Japanese hang around so long? No, we can't just yet. It I were to guess, I would posit the beneficial effect on plasmalogens. What else?

The effect on heart attach and stroke is not insignificant. This is roughly 10-100 times the beneficial effect of statins. The Japanese are living some 5-10 years longer than their western counterparts. If taurine is 60% of that, you have a 4-6 year benefit. Statins will add 1 week to your life, if you haven't had a heart attack.

www.What will Work for me. I love scallops and pick them any time I have a choice. Looks like I can now explain why seafood is so good for us. I'm affronted by the energy drink industry with their taurine manipulation. But maybe I should just get over it. And buy some taurine. If I were to choose, I would get the magnesium taurate and get my magnesium along with the taurine.

References: ResearchGateJr BioMed Sci, ResearchGate, Arteriosclerosis, Med Hypothesis, Nutrients, Adv Res Dev Biol,

Pop Quiz

1. What is taurine? Answer: It is an amino acid not used in making proteins. It has many other uses in our metabolism yet to be fully understood.

2. What uses? Answer: Helps excrete bile acids. Helps hearts have normal rhythms. Antioxidant. Balances plasmalogens.......

3. Where do we get it from in our diet? Answer: Seafood. Scallops, clams, oysters, fish. And seaweed The level is regular meats is about 10% of seafood. Vegetables and fruits have none. Seeds and nuts, tiny amounts.

4. What percent of the longevity of the Japanese can be explained by their intake of taurine (this is some 10 fold what Westerners eat)? Answer: About 60% when combined with cholesterol, BMI, salt and magnesium intake.

5. And what is the plasmalogen connection? Answer: Well, we don't really know except that there appears to be a positive correlation with more taurine intake and membrane phospholipid levels (that include plasmalogens.). That raises the tantalizing spector that you can raise your plasmalogens by taking more taurine. (Complete conjecture supported only by other conjectures, so far. )