Updated 10/3/23. What is spermidine? When I first saw this word, I thought my eyes were seeing things. A nutrient whose name begins with the word sperm? Yep! Odds are you'll soon start hearing about how spermidine supplements can slow aging and help cancer, diabetes and a heap of other things. So is it for real or a scam? This review will help you sort fact from fiction. I'll show you the research on spermidine and put it in its proper perspective. If you know the research, you will know if spermidine is right for you. Let's see what we can discover.
Other Anti-Aging Reviews
- Protandim Review
- Niagen Review
- Elysium Basis Review
- SeroVital HGH Review
- GenF20 Plus Review
- Stem Cell Therapy Cream Review
What is Spermidine?
To quote the science books, spermidine (“sperm-a-dean”) is classified as a polyamine. What's that? A polyamine is a compound formed from amino acids. As amino acids are metabolized, they create many things, including polyamines. As you can tell from the word “poly,” these substances contain more than one amino group. Polyamines are found in living cells.
Polyamines can interact with DNA and play roles in several cell functions such as protein synthesis, cell growth, and how long cells live. Spermidine is one type of polyamine. There are many others.
When it comes to aging and anti-aging research, researchers tend to focus on 3 types of polyamines:
To keep things simple, this review will only focus on spermidine.
Where Did The Name Come From?
Spermidine was first isolated in semen, so that's where it got its name. No jokes 🙂
Spermidine Video Review
Watch this short video
Spermidine And Aging
So, can this stuff slow aging and increase longevity? Well, spermidine levels do seem to decrease as we grow older – but this is not as simple as it seems. For example, researchers in Italy noted people aged 60-80 had lower spermidine levels than those in their 50s. But, in those over 90 years of age, the levels were actually higher than people who were 50.
This could mean:
- aging might not lead to a clear-cut decline in spermine levels
- people with higher spermidine levels might have greater longevity than those with lower levels.
Can Spermidine Improve Memory?
Watch on my YouTube channel
Spermidine And Oxidative Stress
Aging is thought to be – at least partially – related to a build-up of free radicals. Too much free radical damage leads to “oxidative stress.” When scientists give spermidine to older mice, it reduces oxidative stress.
Does this mean the mice grew younger? Not necessarily but it's an interesting observation. It tells us spermidine is an antioxidant. Other researchers have shown spermidine can protect cells against hydrogen peroxide, a potent free generator of free radicals.
This all sounds great, except researchers in Poland have noted spermidine might increase free radicals (oxidative stress) and damage DNA.
To be clear, that would be bad.
So, is spermidine an antioxidant or a pro-oxidant? It seems to be both. Truth be told, all antioxidants have the ability to neutralize – or produce – free radicals under the right/wrong circumstances.
Like many things related to this substance, the evidence is preliminary and better research is needed.
Can Spermidine Increase Lifespan?
Spermidine supplementation has been shown to increase the lifespans of:
- fruit flies
- yeast cells
- human blood cells
But what about people? Because humans live so long (thank goodness), it is unknown if spermidine extends our lives. A study like this would take a lifetime to complete.
Spermidine And Cancer
Can polyamines cure your cancer or reduce your odds of getting cancer?
Researchers in the 1980s found that red blood cells of cancer patients had higher spermidine levels than those without cancer. Those levels decline (in some patients) after they undergo successful cancer therapy.
On the surface, this might seem like higher levels cause cancer, but I don't think so. It could be elevated cellular polyamine levels might be one way the body is trying to fight cancer.
To complicate this, researchers found no association between polyamine levels and colon cancer development or relapse. In other words, testing for cellular levels didn't seem to predict who had colon cancer or not.
On the plus side, spermidine seemed to improve the effects of chemotherapy in lab animals.
OK, what does this mean?
We do not yet know what role polyamines play in the development of cancer or whether they reduce your risk. What I can say is these substances are found in many healthy foods. People who eat healthy foods get less cancer. So, to reduce your cancer risk, eat healthy foods and don't worry about spermidine or polyamines in those foods.
Spermidine And Diabetes
So, do polyamines reverse diabetes? Researchers in Japan have theorized spermidine might reduce damage to cells in the pancreas which make insulin. In theory, this might help with diabetes. But it would take actual human research to know for sure.
To be clear, I know type II diabetes (the most common type) CAN be reversed. I have witnessed this happen. But, I doubt if taking a single polyamine can do the trick. I believe your odds of reversing diabetes are better if you:
- reducing body weight (if needed)
- eating fewer calories (not much, just a wee bit)
- exercise (even a little bit helps)
For more on diabetes, see these reviews:
- Can Type II Diabetes Be Reversed?
- Is There a Natural Cure For Diabetes?
- Interview: How This Women Cured Here Diabetes
Spermidine And Weight Loss
While spermidine seems to play a role in the formation of fat cells, there is no evidence foods (or supplements) containing this substance promote weight loss. Likewise, nobody can say if this stuff boosts metabolism either. Human research on weight loss and metabolic rate is lacking.
Spermidine And Exercise
Researchers experimenting with mice have noted spermidine supplements improved the function of the left ventricle and the elasticity of heart cells. While this would make for a more healthy heart because the study involved mice, we need human studies – and human exercise research – to know what all this means.
How Does Spermidine Work?
One way spermidine appears to work is by improving how we recycle cells. To be healthy, we need a way of getting rid of old/damaged cells. This process is called autophagy (self-eating). It's pronounced “ah-tof-a-gee” If we can't recycle cells properly, this causes cellular defects linked to aging.
Spermidine causes an increase in autophagy when it's given to worms and fruit flies. Other research -involving yeast – has shown spermidine reduces cell death (necrosis). Researchers have also noted spermidine + resveratrol seem to work better together at causing autophagy.
Again, this is in isolated batches of cells, not people.
Polyamines -like spermidine – may also have anti-inflammatory effects. Too much inflammation over long periods of time can lead to disease. But, other investigations find polyamines may be pro-inflammation.
Most experts say polyamines work because they induce autophagy, helping cells clean up after themselves and in the process, stay healthy. While this does seem to be true, I think it's more complicated than this.
Spermidine And The Mitochondria
The mitochondria, often called the powerhouse of the cell is a very popular area of anti-aging research. Defects in the mitochondria are thought to contribute to aging. Spermidine is thought to promote mitochondria formation in cells. But again, this is limited to mice and not humans.
Spermidine Research Summary
Let's summarize the research conducted so far so you can quickly make sense of it:
- Anti-aging: no human proof
- Reduces oxidative stress: no human proof
- Reduces cancer: no human proof
- Helps diabetes: no human proof
- Helps weight loss: no human proof
- Raises testosterone: no human proof
- Raises growth hormone: no human proof
- Improves exercise: no human proof
To be clear, when I say “no human proof” I mean clinical studies showing improvements in people cannot be located.
Where To Buy Spermidine?
There are many brands of spermidine supplements. However, some may not even list the amount of spermidine on their label. Instead, that may list the amount of the food that contains it, such as wheat germ. If you are considering adding this to your supplement regimen, make sure the company –like this one – provides a certificate of analysis that proves it has the spermidine dosage listed on the label.
Spermidine In Foods
Polyamines are found in a wide array of foods such as fruits, vegetables, meat, and cheese. Swedish researchers have highlighted the following foods as being high in spermidine:
- Soybeans (soy and natto too)
- green peas
- lentil soup
- red beans
- chicken and steak
- cheese (specifically aged cheese)
Other polyamine-rich foods include:
- green tea
- oranges and grapefruits
- nuts and seeds
- wheat germ
- all types of legumes
- grapes (wine, too)
- green peppers
- whole grains
Don't make the mistake of thinking spermidine is the most essential polyamine. It's possible spermidine works in synergy with other polyamines. If you focus on just one polyamine, you miss the big picture. There is more to the health benefits of foods than any single ingredient. Aim for variety.
Watch on my YouTube channel
Spermidine Smoothie Recipe
It's no secret I like making smoothies. They are a great way to get a bunch of nutrients from many different foods very quickly and easily. In the list of foods above, it occurred to me you could make yourself a “spermidine smoothie” by combining:
- oranges and/or grapefruit and/or pears
- wheat germ
- green tea
- green peas (or frozen peas and carrots)
Mix all this with some chocolate protein powder and you are good to go! 🙂
1 Does Sperm Contain Spermidine?
Not sperm, but seamen do. The substance was first isolated from seamen and that's where it gets its name from too.
2 Is Spemidine A Spermicide?
These are not the same thing. Spermidine does not prevent pregnancy.
3 Does It Lengthen Telomeres?
Telomeres are located at the ends of chromosomes. They shorten as we get older and some think this plays a role in aging. Preliminary evidence suggests spermidine slows the loss of telomere length. Studies in humans need to confirm this.
4 Does Fasting Increase Spermidine levels?
When researchers reduced food intake in laboratory animals with cancer, it seemed to help chemotherapy work better. This same effect was seen when the animals were given spermidine supplements.
So does this mean intermittent fasting is good for people with cancer because it boosts polyamine levels? Not necessary. Cancer/polyamine research is still limited to cell and lab animal research.
5 Spermidine vs. Spermine: What's The Difference?
Spermine is another type of polyamine. Both compounds are related to each other. Spermine actually comes from Spermidine. So does this mean spermine is more powerful? Could it be the anti-aging hype of spermidine is due to the effects of spermine?
Nobody is saying this (yet). But you have to remember the research on polyamines is in its infancy.
It's possible as we learn more, the hype about polyamines may one day run its course. This sometimes happens in science. For example, when I was in college, I was researching a compound called prostacyclin, which relaxes the muscles' blood vessels. Almost nobody talks about prostacyclin anymore. Today, it's all about a related compound –nitric oxide.
6 Which Amino Acids Increase Spermidine Levels
All polyamines come from amino acids. So, any amino acid has the ability to form them. That said, amino acids which are sometimes mentioned in relation to polyamine production include:
This does not mean if you start taking these amino acids, your levels of spermidine will go up. They might or might not. It would take human proof to know for sure.
7 Spermidine vs. Niagen
While I have been skeptical of both of these supplements, the fact remains there is more research on these supplements than spermidine.
So, if you are trying to decide which might be better to experiment with, I'd say either of these would be a better choice.
8 How Long Until Spermidine Levels Increase?
If you supplemented with spermidine or ate foods that contain it, long until your cell levels were higher? It's difficult to say. Different time periods are likely needed to raise different types of polyamines.
Researchers in Japan noted higher blood levels of spermine after 2 months of eating fermented foods. Spermidine levels, however, did not improve after 2 months.
The increase in polyamines seems to be greater in older folks than younger individuals. This is likely because older people start out with lower levels, to begin with.
Spermidine Side Effects
If your health and you get this stuff from foods, I don't think there would be any toxicity. As for supplements, I cannot say. No supplement has been tested in humans to see what effects or side effects it might have. As a rule, if you decide to take supplements to follow these basic guidelines
- start with less than is recommended for the first week
- don't take it if you are pregnant/breastfeeding
- stop taking the supplement at least two weeks before surgery
- if you take any medications, like blood thinners, etc., talk to your doctor/pharmacist
Just because polyamines are found in foods does not mean they would still be healthy if they were concentrated in a supplement. As proof, we need only look at the effects of beta carotene supplements in smokers – lung cancer.
Does Spermidine Work?
Research on spermidine supplements is in its infancy. Research is limited mainly to test-tube research and mouse studies. There's no human evidence -yet- that spermidine supplementation helps people live longer or reduces disease.
My advice. Eat the foods that contain this stuff, skip the spermidine supplements, exercise regularly and say a prayer it all works out at the end of the day.