What is taurine?

Taurine or 2-aminoethylsulfonic acid is an amino sulfonic acid, a conditionally essential nutrient that can be produced in your body from the amino acids methionine and cysteine, but in certain circumstances, such as chronic heavy disease, you may need to get additional amounts from foods in order to be healthy [1].

Taurine Functions in the Human Body

Taurine is involved in [1,2]:

  • Transforming bile acids, formed in the liver, to bile salts, stored in the gallbladder
  • Development of the nerves and the eye retina
  • Distribution of water and calcium in the body

Foods High in Taurine

  • ANIMAL FOODS naturally containing taurine: meat, fish and breast milk [1]
  • FOOD PRODUCTS that may contain synthetically produced taurine: energy drinks (in doses up to 1-2 g/serving) and certain infant formulas

Taurine Supplements

L-taurine oral supplements are available without prescription (over-the-counter). They are synthetically produced from isethionic acid or from arizidine and sulfurous acid.

Taurine Health Benefits

There is INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE [3] about taurine effectiveness in the prevention or treatment of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cystic fibrosis, congestive heart failure [3,5,6], diabetes mellitus type 2, high blood pressure, gastric ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori, chronic hepatitis [7], high cholesterol, iron deficiency anemia, muscle soreness, myotonic dystrophy, seizures, sleepiness due to sleep deprivation and tics (involuntary expressions), or in promoting weight loss, increasing exercise performance [8], removing toxins from the body, improving mental performance or improving fat absorption in infants or promoting growth in preterm infants [4].

Taurine Safety: Side Effects, Toxicity

Taurine is POSSIBLY SAFE for most adults and children when taken by mouth in appropriate doses [2].

Who should avoid taurine?

Pregnant ad breastfeeding women and individuals with bipolar disorder should avoid taurine [2].

Taurine-Drugs Interactions

Taurine may increase the effects and side effects of lithium (a drug used in bipolar disorder) [2].

  1. Taurine  PubChem
  2. El Idrissi A et al, 2003, Taurine regulates mitochondrial calcium homeostasis  PubMed
  3. Taurine uses, side effects WebMD
  4. Verner AM et al, 2007, Effect of taurine supplementation on growth and development in preterm or low birth weight infants  Cochrane
  5. Xu Y-J et al, 2008, The potential health benefits of taurine in cardiovascular disease  PubMed Central
  6. Beyranvand MR et al, 2011, Effect of taurine supplementation on exercise capacity of patients with heart failure
  7. Hu YH et al, 2008, Dietary amino acid taurine ameliorates liver injury in chronic hepatitis patients  PubMed
  8. Williams M, 2005, Dietary Supplements and Sports Performance: Amino Acids  PubMed Central

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