I have a patient who regularly regales me with updates about new anti-ageing elixirs that will enable him to outlive me. I thought I’d better find out if spermidine is really going to give him an edge or if he’s being conned and I can relax. Much to my chagrin it turns out that he might have hit the jackpot. For those old enough to remember, spermidine is a veritable Carl Lewis if life is an Olympic experience. From boosting memory, to enhancing our immune systems, reinvigorating our hearts, eliminating damaged cells, rejuvenating our mitochondria, the batteries of our cells that flounder as we age and ramping up our antioxidant capabilities, there is nothing that appears to be beyond the capabilities of this multitasking super-potion. Two studies conducted over an extended period have demonstrated that those who have greater levels of spermidine live longer.
Spermidine is found in fresh green pepper, wheat germ, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, and a variety of cheeses. Higher amounts are found in soybean products such as natto, shitake mushrooms, amaranth grain and durian. It’s also synthesized in our bodies but we make less of it as we get older. There might be a reason for this. As supplement companies rush to churn out copies of this supposedly miraculous substance and we succumb to the seductive enticement of all the longevity promoting magic that it promises to deliver we need to pay attention to the research showing that inhibiting spermidine production is being considered as an option for the prevention and treatment of cancer. As much as it might be tempting to ignore and override nature turning our backs in its wisdom might have consequences that we might come to regret. I think I have to tell my patient that he might be cashing in his winnings sooner than he anticipates.