A balanced diet and an active lifestyle can help us stay healthy longer and, ideally, live longer. Specifically, these include, among other things: avoiding nicotine, alcohol and industrial sugar as much as possible and a diet rich in vitamins and fiber, lots of exercise, drinking lots of water – to put it briefly and incompletely. The topic of longevity has been in the focus of many people for some time now and there are some tips that should help to possibly extend life and ensure that we stay healthy for longer. Spermidine is also said to be able to help prolong life and largely protect against diseases. But what exactly is spermidine, what effect is it supposed to have and how reliable are the results of the studies that prove a positive spermidine effect?

Spermidine is a so-called biogenic polyamine. If the name reminds you of something, you’re right: both this term and the name spermine (a cleavage product of the cell nucleus) are derived from male semen, as it was first discovered there. Spermidine is not only found in sperm, but in all living organisms and body cells. It is also closely linked to cell growth. However, the exact physiological function of spermidine in growing cells has not yet been fully investigated and clarified. But one thing is clear: when metabolism accelerates, the amount of spermidine in the organism increases; when metabolism slows, it decreases. Concentration also decreases with age: around the age of 35. It is usually measured in µmol, i.e. one millionth of a mole, a unit in which the concentration of the PHE value in the blood is reflected.

Spermidine stimulates autophagy, in simple terms the self-cleaning and rejuvenation of cells. This effect has been largely scientifically confirmed. It also takes place during fasting. During autophagy, damaged cells are covered by a membrane. Then they are digested. Through this process, old cells become functional again and live longer. Healthy cells provide better protection against disease and, it is believed, the more spermidine there is, the better autophagy can take place.

Since autophagy stalls with age and the spermidine concentration also decreases with increasing age, increased intake in old age is said to be helpful in keeping autophagy going. But only scientific studies can clarify whether the whole thing can work like this. There are now a few of these – although not all of them lead to the same result or are completely valid or representative.

A few years ago, there were animal studies that showed, based on tests on aged mice, that a diet rich in spermidine was associated with a longer life expectancy and increased health in animals. Researchers at the University of Innsbruck, in collaboration with the University of Graz, also published a study on spermidine in 2018, which, based on 829 human participants between the ages of 45 and 84, showed that a diet rich in spermidine also appears to have positive effects on life expectancy and cell health in humans .

Participants whose spermidine-rich diet had more than 80 µmol of spermidine in their blood had a lower risk of dying over the 20-year observation period of the study than those who had less than 60 µmol. This would result in an increased life expectancy of five years, according to one of the results of the study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”. In order to achieve the value tested, you have to consume several milligrams of spermidine daily. Exactly how much is not clear.

In an interview with “Geo”, neurologist Stefan Kiechl, who was responsible for the study and heads VASCage at the Medical University of Innsbruck, explains that the statement that a diet rich in spermidine can lead to five years longer life is striking. However, the study results are representative. “It’s fair to say that people who consume a lot of spermidine live longer.”

Confounding factors are also excluded from such observation studies, such as whether participants generally ate healthier or exercised more. “However, there was a significant effect with spermidine.” Spermidine not only rejuvenates the cells, but can also dampen inflammation, lower cholesterol and blood pressure or even prevent dementia. But Kiechl also says: Only an intervention study, which is already planned at VASCage, can provide definitive proof of such a positive spermidine effect. However, we will have to wait a few years for the valid results. The website “Medizin Transparent”, which searched the databases for studies, also comes to the conclusion that representative ideal studies on the subject of spermidine are not yet available and valid statements cannot (yet) be made – rather, assumptions that are supported by individual studies become.

However, it is certain that it is by no means harmful to ensure an increased spermidine intake through your diet. The polyamide is found in many healthy foods that you can safely include in large quantities in your diet. These are, for example:

If you need suggestions for healthy, spermidine-rich cooking, you can also consult a few books to help: Both the book “The Spermidine Cookbook” and “Spermidine – Strong Against Dementia: Nature’s Anti-Aging Miracle” have… Customers received very good reviews. And either way, it has a positive effect on your health if you cook freshly and pay attention to the food you use.

Since we can also get spermidine through food, it is not necessary to take it through dietary supplements. A balanced diet is usually sufficient. However, it is the same as with other dietary supplements: Anyone who – for whatever reason – cannot manage or does not believe in consuming spermidine in the desired amount through their diet can resort to dietary supplements.

One company that specializes in spermidine is, among others, “Spermidine Life”. Co-founder Herbert Pock explained to stern why it should definitely be spermidine. “For us at ‘The Longevity Labs’, the cell is at the center of everything we do as the basis for a healthy life. That’s why in our work we take a holistic look at the cell and all its cellular processes.” An essential process of this is the autophagy mentioned above. “This process affects all cells, from skin cells to heart cells to brain cells. With age, this process, as well as the body’s own spermidine production, decreases significantly and can therefore be the starting point for age-related diseases,” he says.

His company was the first to bring spermidine to market as a dietary supplement and still offers the world’s only spermidine with European novel food approval. With the help of the products, you can easily consume the desired amount of spermidine. “In the human studies in which spermidine is examined, dosages of one to six milligrams of spermidine per daily dose are found. The effects can therefore be seen directly from the studies,” says Pock. In an interview with “Geo”, neurologist Stefan Kiechl recommends at least five milligrams per day. However, you should not consume more than six milligrams of spermidine through dietary supplements.

From his point of view, Pock explains why additional spermidine intake in old age would not always be sufficient through diet alone: ​​”Spermidine is found in most cells of plants, animals and humans. Therefore, some of it can be consumed through food. A problem However, the dosage in different foods varies greatly. Due to fast-growing varieties, different growing conditions and soil conditions, the spermidine content in foods varies greatly.” Furthermore, spermidine is a water-soluble polyamine and is not heat-stable at higher temperatures. “All of these imponderables can be avoided with tested dietary supplements. So with us you can be sure that you are consuming your two to six milligrams of spermidine per daily dose,” says the co-founder.

Taking nutritional supplements often sounds practical and uncomplicated – but what about an overdose or side effects? “Since spermidine is present in our body and in our cells from birth, our body is very familiar with natural spermidine. To my knowledge, no side effects, overdoses or interactions have emerged from previous studies.” There are also no negative interactions with other dietary supplements. “Klartext Nutritional Supplement”, an offer from the consumer advice center, recommends not to exceed the specified maximum amounts in dietary supplements and to be careful with substances that have not yet been researched. It should not be more than six milligrams a day, and long-term use of such drugs is not recommended because the area is still unexplored and the effect is not certain.

Both studies and the statements from experts sound consistently positive. However, further research shows that spermidine is not a miracle cure, although it can be helpful in old age. In addition, taking it through dietary supplements is not always a safe way to get the polyamide where it needs to go in the desired amount. This is what Professor Dr. Martin Smollich, specialist in nutritional medicine and head of the AG Pharmakonutrition at the University Hospital in Lübeck, explained to “MDR Wissen”. A study paper would raise doubts about the guaranteed absorption of spermidine into the body through dietary supplements. He says: “You can take spermidine, but it doesn’t reach the body at all.”

In his pharmacokinetic study, participants were given 15 milligrams of spermidine for five days in a row and a placebo in the other phase. The study was carried out in two intervals of five days each and a nine-day break. The blood and saliva analysis in the study showed that the spermine concentration in the plasma increased during the days on which 15 milligrams of spermidine were taken. The spermidine concentration, however, does not. It may be doubtful whether the study was too entertaining or representative. However, there are no other studies or investigations into dietary supplements with spermidine yet.

In the end, it remains to be said: If the body’s spermidine concentration decreases with age, it can be helpful to consciously consume higher amounts of polyamide through food. However, it is not certain whether the spermidine in dietary supplements reaches the body in the desired amount or at all. And whether additional spermidine really stimulates autophagy further and has a life-extending effect is also unclear – but there are many indications of this, as the most recent study shows. In any case, it is good for your health to eat a balanced and healthy diet, to exercise a lot and to adhere to the recommended fluid intake. A diet full of mushrooms and other spermidine-rich foods is certainly helpful. However, anyone who hopes that simply taking two capsules of a dietary supplement will prolong life while doing little else is most likely wrong.

Important: This article references studies available at the time of publication (January 2024). It should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. If you have physical complaints or suspect an illness, you should always consult a doctor first. Measures such as taking additional spermidine through dietary supplements should also best be discussed with a doctor.

Sources used: Wikipedia / “Science” / “Science Direct” / “Medizin Transparent” / “Spermidin Health” / MDR / “Geo” / Medical University of Innsbruck / “Klartext Nutritional Supplement”

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