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What is Spermidine? Everything You Need to Know About this Anti-Aging Agent

It’s quite natural to feel apprehension when faced with the realization that aging is an inevitable aspect of life. Throughout your childhood and even well into early adulthood, it’s easy to let your own mortality sink to the back of your mind, drowned out by more pressing matters like career aspirations and relationship goals. However, once you fully bid farewell to your youth and start experiencing age-related decline, it’s hard to ignore the anxious whispers stirring to life inside of your head. 

I can’t sugarcoat the reality of aging; it will happen to all of us, and experiencing changes in your physical condition is to be expected. Folks who lead healthy lifestyles supported by nutritional foods and regular physical activity tend to stave off many of the negative effects of aging, but there’s modern supplements that can help prevent age-related degeneration as well. Spermidine, a naturally occurring polyamine, happens to be exactly that.  

If you’ve never heard of this compound before now, prepare to have a whole new outlook on the aging process by the end of this article. Let’s take a closer look at what spermidine is and why it can have a positive impact on your health.

This article will explore the following points:

  • Caloric restriction and autophagy 
  • What spermidine is and what it can do for your health 
  • How to increase spermidine in your diet

Restricting Calories Can Be Beneficial to Your Health 

It has been long understood that food has a profound impact on the quality of our health. Food acts as a source of essential nutrients and energy required for growth and development. Our feeding behavior is directly correlated with the overall state of our health, and it can even influence the way illnesses affect our bodies, potentially helping us to avoid disease altogether. 

Feeding behavior has a direct impact on our health and how we age. From the timing of daily meals to diet composition and the overall amount of food you consume, your eating practices will influence several areas of your health. Adopting good eating habits is a great step you can take to stave off age-related degeneration, and fasting just so happens to be one of the best things you can do for your body. 

Reduced caloric intake without malnutrition or dietary restrictions are incredibly beneficial for your health and have a positive influence on how you age. Caloric restriction is known to extend the lifespan of nearly every tested organism; from single-celled organisms to the likes of flies, mice, and primates. 

 So, why does consuming less calories seemingly yield such positive health benefits? 

Well, it is thought that the re-routing of energy utilization from growth and development to processes of cellular maintenance and repair are why. One of these such processes is autophagy, an integral component of cellular homeostasis. 

Understanding the Role of Autophagy 

Autophagy is a necessary process that essentially allows your body to “clean house” and rid itself of potentially harmful waste, including dead and damaged cell parts. The end-products of these degraded cellular components serve as the new building blocks for cell recycling and serve as fuel for energy production. 

Autophagic activity naturally declines as we get older, which leads to an excessive accumulation of cell waste. It must also be noted that modern dietary regimens repress autophagy due to a lack of regular fasting, as used to be the case during ancient times when humans would search or hunt for food. 

Our tendency to splurge on foods high in calories have a negative impact on the autophagic process, potentially blocking it completely. The good news is, caloric restriction can counteract the detrimental effects of our contemporary eating habits and work to re-establish normal autophagic activity, at least partially. 

An older woman holding a cutting board
Aging is a natural process that is connected to the way we eat. By exploring what spermidine is, we can benefit from its effects and promote a long and healthy life. 

What is Spermidine and Why Does it Matter?

Spermidine was first discovered in a sample of human semen in 1678 by Dutch scientist Anton Van Leeuwenhoek and, shortly afterwards, was found to be in human sperm as well. It is naturally occuring within the body and is widely found in living tissues and ribosomes. Spermidine is crucial to the maintenance of cellular homeostasis, meaning numerous biological processes would suffer a negative impact in its absence. 

Spermidine is a compound known as a polyamine, which means it has two or more primary amino groups. Polyamines interact with our cells in specific ways to perform various metabolic functions. Spermidine can be found in all plants, animals, and in just about every cell inside of your body. Spermidine is a naturally occurring molecule within the body and is biosynthesized from its precursor putrescine. Spermidine is the precursor for a different polyamine called spermine, which also happens to be important for cellular function. 

Among the vital functions that spermidine plays a part in, autophagy is a big one. Both spermidine and putrescine are known to stimulate autophagy. Since the process of autophagy breaks down waste inside the body’s cells, it is fundamental to reducing the effects of aging and prolonging a healthy life. Old and damaged cells have a greater risk of developing health problems, such as age-related disease, due to the increased potential of build up of dead or toxic organelle matter. Autophagy allows for this waste to be broken down and for certain cellular components to be recycled, optimizing cell function. 

Some of the critical biological processes that spermidine helps regulate include:

  • Cell growth and development
  • Cellular differentiation 
  • DNA and RNA stabilization 
  • Tissue regeneration 
  • Apoptosis, or cellular death

The Delay of Aging 

Numerous animal studies indicate that the administration of spermidine increases lifespan and prevents certain diseases like liver fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, which generally seems to be the case with diets rich in polyamines. Some evidence also suggests spermidine may reduce stress, which can impact your physical health. 

The decline of spermidine as you age is a determining factor in the potential onset of age-related diseases. Lipid metabolism is also important for lifespan, and there can be serious consequences for your health and longevity if you have dysfunctional lipid metabolism. Because of the role of spermidine in adipogenesis and its ability to modify lipid profiles, it is theorized that this is another way in which spermidine influences lifespan. 

There are a range of different benefits that spermidine can provide you with, but its ability to delay the effects of aging is perhaps its most notable.

The Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Spermidine 

While spermidine is primarily thought to support longevity through its ability to induce autophagy, there is reason to believe spermidine has other qualities that are beneficial to our health as we age. The apparent anti-inflammatory properties of spermidine could be another factor in the prevention of age-related disease. 

While inflammation plays a major role in the healing of wounds and the repelling of invading pathogens, persistent inflammation associated with aging is harmful for your health. Chronic inflammation prevents the regeneration of healthy tissue, causes immune cells to become dysfunctional, and may even accelerate the rate at which healthy cells become senescent, or old. Spermidine appears to reduce chronic inflammation, therefore possibly providing another way in which the aging of cells and tissues slows down. 

Cardiovascular Health and Cancer

The data of two population based studies performed on humans suggests that spermidine intake is linked to a reduction of cardiovascular and cancer-related mortality in humans. Spermidine was found to reverse the effects of aging and improve the cardiovascular function in aged mice who were administered the supplement. 

Overall, heart structure and function saw improvements in the aged mice, along with metabolism due to the restoration of mitochondrial structure and function brought about via spermidine supplementation.  

Based on all of this data, there is reason to believe spermidine could delay aging in humans, though more research should be conducted in order to gain a better understanding of how spermidine affects humans. 

Spermidine in Your Diet

Even though the body will synthesize its own spermidine, it’s important to make a concerted effort to include foods rich in the polyamine as a staple part of your diet. As you age, the amount of spermidine your body is able to produce declines, which makes your food intake all the more important. 

Good news – spermidine can be found in a variety of nutritious foods, making this molecule easy to add to your meals. Foods like aged cheese, potatoes, soy products, mushrooms, whole grains, and legumes all contain spermidine. Many foods present in the Mediterranean diet are rich in spermidine, which likely gives us an explanation as to why people who reside in the Mediterranean region tend to live longer in comparison to other locations. 

Let’s get a better idea of the spermidine levels in certain foods and consider how they might impact your health

  • Red beans (190 mg) – Spermidine found in red beans controls abnormal cell growth, possibly working to prevent cancer. 
  • Broccoli (100 mg) – The bioactive compounds in broccoli reduce inflammation in body tissue and the spermidine present in broccoli protects against cell death and oxidative stress. 
  • Potatoes (150 mg) – Potatoes are extremely good for your health and have a range of beneficial qualities including the maintenance of cell membranes, bone health and structure, and the maturation of collagen. 
  • Chicken (125 mg) – In addition to the protein and spermidine content that protects heart health, chicken contains selenium, an element that helps spermidine enhance metabolic performance. 
  • Lentils (250 mg) – Rich in protein and fiber, lentils promote longevity, improve heart health, aid in weight loss, and provide enough spermidine for your metabolic health.
  • Pears (125 mg) – The spermidine present in these crisp fruits works to eliminate the free radicals accumulated by the body following cellular metabolism. 
  • Soybean seed (100-300 mg/kg) – One of the richest food sources of spermidine, soybean seeds are composed of complete protein that contain all of the amino acids that your body needs from food, and the spermidine present in soybean seeds ensures cell health by helping to regrow or replace damaged cells.
  • Green peas (46 mg/kg) – A low fat and low calorie food, green peas are a healthy vegetable with anti-inflammatory properties that help prevent wrinkles; the spermidine present is beneficial for hair follicles and prevents the loss of hair. 
I can’t stress enough how important your dietary choices are when it comes to maintaining good health – the foods you eat have the potential to prevent age-related degeneration for years to come. 

Is Spermidine Right For You?

Since spermidine is a naturally occurring product of the body, spermidine supplements are completely safe and should be well-tolerated by your digestive system. Of course, never put off the possibility of side effects developing when taking a dietary supplement. If you have concerns, it would be best to discuss them with your doctor before deciding if spermidine is the best choice for you. 

You should consult a licensed health care professional before starting any supplement, dietary, or exercise program, especially if you are pregnant or have any pre-existing injuries or medical conditions.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.