Taurine is an organic acid which acts as a lipid/membrane stablilizer in the body and can aid various anti-oxidant defense systems.
Supporting research & information
Taurine exerts most of its benefits vicariously though other compounds in the body, but exerts some of its own on a cellular level. It is being heavily researched as an anti-diabetic compound due to its actions on organs of the body of most concern to diabetics (kidney, eye, nerve health) as well as controlling blood sugar while reducing some forms of insulin resistance.
Taurine is an amino sulfonic acid, but it is often referred to as an amino acid, a chemical that is a required building block of protein. Taurine is found in large amounts in the brain, retina, heart, and blood cells called platelets. The best food sources are meat and fish.
You may see taurine referred to as “a conditional amino acid,” to distinguish it from “an essential amino acid.” A “conditional amino acid” can be manufactured by the body, but an “essential amino acid” cannot be made by the body and must be provided by the diet. People who, for one reason or another, cannot make taurine, must get all the taurine they need from their diet or supplements. For example, supplementation is necessary in infants who are not breastfed because their ability to make taurine is not yet developed and cow's milk does not provide enough taurine. So taurine is often added to infant formulas. People who are being tube-fed often need taurine as well, so it is added to the nutritional products that they use. Excess taurine is excreted by the kidneys.
Some people take taurine supplements as medicine to treat congestive heart failure (CHF), high blood pressure, liver disease (hepatitis), high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia), and cystic fibrosis. Other uses include seizure disorders (epilepsy), autism, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), eye problems (disorders of the retina), diabetes, and alcoholism. It is also used to improve mental performance and as an antioxidant. Antioxidants protect cells of the body from damage that results from certain chemical reactions involving oxygen (oxidation).
How does it work?
Researchers aren’t exactly sure why taurine seems to help congestive heart failure (CHF). There is some evidence that it improves the function of the left ventricle, one of the chambers of the heart. Taurine might also improve heart failure because it seems to lower blood pressure and calm the sympathetic nervous system, which is often too active in people with high blood pressure and CHF. The sympathetic nervous system is the part of the nervous system that responds to stress.
Primary Roles of Taurine in the Body
Taurine is found in several organs, and its benefits are widespread.
Its direct roles include:
Maintaining proper hydration and electrolyte balance in your cells.
Forming bile salts, which play an important role in digestion.
Regulating minerals such as calcium within cells.
Supporting the general function of the central nervous system and eyes.
Regulating immune system health and antioxidant function.
Since it’s a “conditionally essential” amino acid, a healthy individual can produce the minimal amount required for these essential daily functions.
However, higher amounts may be required in rare cases, making it an “essential” nutrient for some people. This includes people with heart or kidney failure, or premature infants that have been fed intravenously for a long time.
Taurine is a semi-essential organic compound. Although scientists have known about it for more than two centuries, its health benefits have only recently become clear.
A taurine-rich diet can protect the body and promote longevity. Yet taurine has a bad reputation because it’s a popular ingredient in unhealthy energy drinks.
Taurine supplements are nontoxic, inexpensive, and freely available. Read on to understand why you should consider taurine supplementation and not believe in its bad reputation.
Taurine (L -Taurine or 2 – aminoethane sulphonic acid) is a sulfur-containing amino acid [R, R].
Mammals have taurine in almost every tissue, but the heart, brain, retina, blood platelets and glands contain particularly high amounts [R].
Taurine plays a crucial role in the development and protection of cells within mammals [R, R].
Taurine controls multiple important biological processes in the body. In this respect, taurine might be more easily compared to sodium or calcium ions rather than a drug that targets a specific receptor in our bodies [R, R].
Humans are able to produce taurine, but not in sufficient quantities. Therefore, taurine is a conditionally essential amino acid for humans. Some conditions where patients can be taurine deficient include premature babies, newborn infants, and chronic liver, heart, and kidney disease patients [R, R].
Taurine also is an osmolyte. This means it controls water entry and exit in cells and stops them from changing the cell too much in size. It interacts with fats in cell membranes and stabilizes them, preventing structural changes to the cell [R, R].
Despite the impressive range of positive effects taurine has on the body, its exact mechanisms of action still remain largely unknown [R].
How the Body Makes Taurine
Taurine is synthesized within the body from the only two other sulfur-containing amino acids, methionine, and cysteine [R].
Taurine synthesis mostly takes place in the liver, with the help of the enzyme cysteine sulfinic acid and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) [R, R, R, R].
Other cells in our bodies are able to take up taurine from the blood thanks to the special taurine transporter (TauT) molecule that is found on cell membranes [R].
Taurine is an essential nutrient for newborn children as they are yet not able to synthesize or retain taurine within their bodies. Breast milk contains the full taurine requirement for infants, as does modern day baby formula [R, R].
How the Body Removes Taurine
Taurine exits the body as part of bile or urine [R].
The kidneys are able to increase or decrease taurine excretion depending on dietary availability of taurine. High amounts of taurine in urine indicate high dietary intake [R, R].
Taurine transporter molecules in the kidneys use energy to resorb and conserve taurine in the body [R].
Individuals with compromised kidney function or faulty taurine transporters may not be able to retain sufficient amounts of taurine [R].
Mice unable to produce the taurine transporter and conserve taurine have dramatic decreases of taurine levels in organs, reduced fertility, and loss of vision [R].
14) Taurine Increases Exercise Performance
Taurine is essential for the normal functioning of muscles [R].
In a study (single-blinded RCT) of 29 elderly individuals, 500 mg of taurine 3 times daily for two weeks can increase exercise performance in humanssuffering from heart failure [R].
Muscle function is severely impaired in mice that lack the taurine transporter [R].
Taurine supplementation improved physical endurance in rats [R].
Taurine supplementation can be used to restore taurine levels in the muscle that are decreased after exercise [R, R].
The mechanisms of action of taurine in muscles may include alteration of protein production and will probably vary from species to species [R].
21) Taurine May Reduce Anxiety
Taurine supplementation had anti-anxiety effects in rats and is suggested for the clinical treatment of anxiety [R].
It interacts with the calming neurotransmitter GABA in the brain, which could help with anxiety control [R, R].
22) Taurine May Help Alleviate Depression
In rats, taurine helped alleviate depression by changing the activity of the hippocampus in the brain [R].
Taurine pretreatment in rats also helped prevent depression and anxiety symptoms after stress exposure [R].
In rats, taurine’s antidepressive activity could be due to its ability to [R]:
Prevent hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis dysfunction
Promotion nerve cell formation, survival, growth in the hippocampus
Prevent the decreases of 5-hydroxytryptamine, dopamine, and noradrenaline
Stop the increase of glutamate and corticosterone
24) Taurine May Improve Learning
Due to the aging process, the brain becomes less efficient at producing and responding to GABA (a neurotransmitter) [R].
Since taurine functions similarly to GABA in the brain, taurine supplementation may reverse some of these effects [R].
Taurine supplementation in aged mice showed a significant improvement in memory formation and retention [R].
Young mice showed no improvement in learning and retention after taurine supplementation. However, taurine induced several biochemical changes in these mice that may promote better aging [R].
The cell protective effects of taurine could also contribute to theimprovement of cognitive functions observed after chronic supplementation with taurine [R].
Long-term continuous taurine supplementation is likely more effective than short-term dosing since brain levels of taurine were not significantly altered after a single dose [R].
This ingredient is found in the following Eudeamon products