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Molecule found in coffee, trigonelline, keeps muscles young

Recent research has unveiled the potential health benefits of trigonelline — a natural molecule found in coffee, fenugreek, and the human body.

This discovery is pivotal in the quest to improve muscle health and functionality, especially as it pertains to the condition known as sarcopenia.

Sarcopenia is characterized by the gradual weakening of muscles due to cellular changes associated with aging. This leads to a significant decline in muscle mass, strength, and ultimately, a reduction in physical independence.

Coffee, trigonelline and the secrets of aging

One of the critical factors in the progression of sarcopenia is the decrease in the cellular cofactor NAD+ and a reduction in energy production by mitochondria, the cells’ power generators.

The international research team, which , discovered that older individuals suffering from sarcopenia have lower levels of trigonelline.

In pre-clinical models, supplementation with trigonelline not only increased NAD+ levels but also enhanced mitochondrial activity, thus aiding in the preservation of muscle function during aging.

This revelation is part of a broader investigation into the mechanisms of human sarcopenia and builds on previous studies that uncovered novel aspects of this condition.

NAD+: The molecular fountain of youth

The research highlights the importance of NAD+ and its precursors, such as the amino acid L-tryptophan (L-Trp) and various forms of vitamin B3 (nicotinic acid, nicotinamide, nicotinamide riboside, and nicotinamide mononucleotide), in maintaining muscle health.

Assistant Professor Vincenzo Sorrentino from NUS Medicine‘s Healthy Longevity Translational Research Programme commented on the significance of these findings.

“Our findings expand the current understanding of NAD+ metabolism with the discovery of trigonelline as a novel NAD+ precursor and increase the potential of establishing interventions with NAD+-producing vitamins for both healthy longevity and age-associated diseases applications,” Sorrentino explained.

The study underscores the role of nutrition and physical activity in sustaining muscle health as we age. Jerome Feige, Head of the Physical Health department at Nestlé Research, expressed his enthusiasm about the collaborative effort’s outcome.

“We were excited to discover through collaborative research that a natural molecule from food cross-talks with cellular hallmarks of aging. The benefits of trigonelline on cellular metabolism and muscle health during ageing opens promising translational applications,” Feige elucidated.

Trigonelline and the future of aging and muscle health

In summary, this intriguing research, led by Nestlé Research and the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at NUS, underscores the significant potential of trigonelline.

This natural molecule found in everyday foods like coffee and fenugreek, is pivotal in combating the effects of sarcopenia and enhancing muscle health as we age.

Their discovery deepens our understanding of muscle aging and NAD+ metabolism while opening exciting new doors for nutritional and lifestyle interventions aimed at promoting healthy aging and managing age-associated diseases.

As we move forward, the implications of these findings promise to revolutionize our approach to maintaining muscle strength and physical independence, offering hope for a future where aging is associated with vitality rather than decline.

More about trigonelline and coffee

As discussed above, trigonelline is a betaine form of niacin (vitamin B3). Its chemical name, N-methyl nicotinate, hints at its structure — a nicotinic acid derivative with a methyl group attached.

This configuration is crucial for its biological activities and its role in plant metabolism. In coffee beans, trigonelline contributes to the aroma and flavor, particularly during the roasting process, where it undergoes chemical changes.

Health benefits of trigonelline

Research has unveiled multiple potential health benefits of trigonelline, making it a compound of interest in nutrition and medicine. It shows promise in several key areas.

Blood sugar regulation

Studies suggest that trigonelline has a beneficial effect on blood sugar levels. It appears to enhance glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, making it a potential ally in managing type 2 diabetes.

Neuroprotective effects

Trigonelline also exhibits neuroprotective properties. It may safeguard neural cells against damage and degeneration, offering potential pathways for treating conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.

Anticancer properties

Preliminary research indicates that trigonelline may possess anticancer capabilities. It seems to inhibit the growth of certain cancer cell lines, although more research is needed to understand its full potential and mechanisms.

Heart health

By influencing lipid metabolism and reducing inflammation, trigonelline might play a role in heart health. Its potential to lower cholesterol levels and protect against cardiovascular diseases is an area of active research.

Dietary sources and supplements

For those interested in the benefits of trigonelline, there are several dietary sources and supplements available.

Coffee is the most well-known source, with its content varying based on the type of coffee and preparation method.

Fenugreek seeds, often used in culinary and medicinal applications, are another rich source. Trigonelline supplements are also available for those seeking targeted intake.

Future directions for trigonelline and coffee research

The road ahead for trigonelline research is exciting and full of potential. As scientists delve deeper into its mechanisms of action and potential therapeutic applications, we may discover more about how this compound can contribute to human health and wellness. Ongoing and future studies will likely illuminate the full spectrum of benefits trigonelline has to offer.

In summary, trigonelline is a compound with significant health-promoting potential. From regulating blood sugar to offering neuroprotective effects, its range of benefits is broad and promising.

As research continues to unfold, trigonelline may find its place not only in our cups but also in our overall approach to health and wellness.

The international research team behind this transformative study includes experts from the University of Southampton, University of Melbourne, University of Tehran, University of South Alabama, University of Toyama, and University of Copenhagen.

The full study was published in the journal Nature Metabolism.


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