How Energy Drinks Might Extend Our Lives

New research shows one ingredient might be the key.

Would you like to live forever? Defeat death? Well, drinking energy drinks certainly won't help you do that—let's just nip that notion in the bud now. Still, they might do something in that arena. New research shows these often maligned beverages might not be all bad for us.

Once again, to be clear, the Monster Energy drink you bought at the gas station this morning is not a magical elixir dredged from the fountain of youth. But it contains an ingredient that could potentially slow the decline in health that often occurs as we age. In a recent study, researchers found that taurine, an acid added to many energy drinks, helped extend the lifespan and improve the health of mice, worms, and monkeys who were fed large amounts of the supplement. Naturally, humans are now wondering what it might do for us.

Nature explains that taurine was the focus of the study because previous research has linked it to a healthy immune system, strong bones, and good nervous-system function. Popular energy drink brands like Red Bull, Monster Energy, and Celsius all contain taurine.

Researchers measured the levels of naturally occurring taurine in the blood of aging mice, worms, and monkeys and found that levels decrease as the animals age. When mice were fed a solution containing taurine, their lifespans increased by approximately 12% in females and 10% in males. Plus, the mice experienced other benefits like better muscle strength and endurance as well as a stronger immune system and fewer symptoms of anxiety or depression.

The worms and monkeys also experienced health benefits after being fed the taurine. Worms lived longer and were overall in better health, and the monkeys had lower body weights, denser bones, and not as much evidence of liver damage.

However, humans probably wouldn't see these same benefits simply by incorporating Red Bull into their daily diet. During the study, mice were given 1,000mg of taurine per kilogram of body weight per day; this converts to about six grams of taurine for an adult human, explains BBC Future. Since there is about a gram of the ingredient in each can of Red Bull, that would mean it would take chugging six cans per day for someone to begin to experience any potential benefits of taurine—effects that would perhaps be canceled out by, you know, drinking way more caffeine and sugar than any expert would advise. And that's assuming the effects of taurine in the human body are even comparable to those of the other test groups, which isn't yet proven either.

Regardless of these potential issues, based on the results of the study, the research team is eager to discover what this might mean for humans going forward.

"We are looking at a multicentric, multinational intervention trial in humans," said study co-author Vijay Yadav, a geneticist at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, during a press conference (as reported by Nature). "We are very excited to take on that journey."

Sure, Red Bull doesn't actually give you wings, but it might give you a little boost to help you keep on chugging through life. Just don't start downing Costco cases of energy drinks until further research is conducted.

Recommended

Advertisement