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Everything you need to know about spermidine…

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…but were afraid to ask! Its name will raise a few eyebrows, but this simple ingredient is turning out to have some remarkable benefits for longevity.

Living longer and as healthily as possible seems like no-brainer, and we all know we need to eat better and exercise more to achieve it. However, the rise of the supplements market – manufactured products intended to supplement your diet – means that additional, complementary longevity options are available.

Enter spermidine. Slightly suspiciously-titled for sure, the compound spermidine was first found in semen which accounts for its rather alarming name, but what is it used for, where can you get it and how beneficial is it? Find out in our spermidine Q&A. 

What is spermidine used for?

Spermidine can prevent liver fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma which are one of the most common causes of liver cancer. It is commonly used in supplements which, when taken, regularly, can have a significant impact on longevity.

What foods are high in spermidine?

Spermidine is found in fresh green pepper, wheat germ, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, and a variety of cheeses. Even higher amounts are found in soybean products such as natto, shitake mushrooms, amaranth grain and durian. Some of these ingredients are particularly common in a Mediterranean diet, which may explain why some believe eating like the Spanish can prolong your life.

Shitake

Where is spermidine found?

Spermidine is a polyamine which plays an important role in the metabolism of cells. It is found in all eukaryotic cells. It is also an essential growth factor in some bacteria and is found as a polycation at physiological pH. The best way to get it is in supplement form.

What are the effects of spermidine supplementation on cognition?

Studies suggest spermidine can improve memory and slow cognitive decline. One of the ways it does this is by triggering the process of dissolving amyloid-beta plaques by autophagy. Studies also suggest it can prevent memory loss in aging subjects.

What are some spermidine supplements?

Spermidine can be bought in powder form or in tablet form as a supplement. It is generally marketed as having anti-aging qualities and may be used in combination with other ingredients such as wheatgerm. Last year we reported on the release of a new supplement from Oxford Healthspan. This, they say, is one of the first spermidine supplements to hit the market.

Spermidine supplements on the market include:

Are there any spermidine side effects?

Clinical trials suggest there are no known side effects from spermidine.

Is spermidine safe?

Yes it’s a naturally-occurring product in the body. All trials have shown that it is perfectly safe with no side effects.

Girl on laptop

What are the benefits of spermidine supplements?

Spermidine is crucial in the process of cell renewal. As old cells die, other cannibalise them and put molecules to use in building new cells. As we get older our natural levels of spermidine decrease reducing the ability of our cells to renew and repair themselves.

Spermidine has also been shown to reduce the risks of some forms of cancer, preserve telomere length and, if taken regularly enough over a long period of time, can expand lifespan. It also maintains autophagy in T cells and may improve vaccine protection in older adults. Research shows that spermidine inhibits five of the nine hallmarks of aging.

Spermidine plays a key role in maintaining cells’ membrane potential and controlling intracellular pH and volume.

Studies also suggest it can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve cognition. Spermidine has a neuroprotective effect against neuron damage caused by inflammation and ischemia and oxidative stress.

Spermidine is a relatively new player on the scene, but is being increasingly used in supplement products. It is not a silver bullet, and will not offer a miracle extension of your life expectancy on you own. However, it does mimic some of the other life extending interventions such as calorie restriction in keeping cells healthier, improving brain function and keeping your body ticking over for a little bit longer.

Intrigued by Spermidine? Find out more in our Supplements Report – the FREE executive summary can be found here, and check out our supplements company profiles here.

Image credits: Daria ShevtsovaPexels, Kristina PaukshtitePexels

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Eleanor Garth
Deputy Editor Now a science and medicine journalist, Eleanor worked as a consultant for university spin-out companies and provided research support at Imperial College London and various London hospitals in a former life.
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