The benefits of Taurine and why you should consider taking it

Written on December 10, 2022

What it is | The Best Taurine SupplementsHow it works | Benefits | Side Effects | Dosage | The Bottom Line

What it is

Involved in numerous bodily processes, Taurine has an important role in our general health.

A non-protein amino acid, Taurine has anti-inflammatory effects that can improve diabetes and benefit the cardiovascular system [1].

Found in most tissues, our body can produce taurine in only tiny quantities.

Therefore we derive the majority of taurine from the foods we eat.

Getting enough taurine is essential for the development and function of brain, eye and muscular health.

In the eye, taurine is the most abundant amino acid.

The Best Taurine Supplements

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How it works

In the body, taurine regulates our cells health, works as an antioxidant and supports mineral signalling.

By regulating calcium signalling, taurine helps maintain our cardiac health.

Optimal taurine levels are required for a number of crucial physiological processes.

These include functioning as a substrate in bile salt formation, osmoregulation and immunomodulation [2].

A deficiency in taurine can result in an increased risk of various disorders [2].

Benefits

1. Maintains cardiovascular health

Blood and heart cells contain taurine transporters, indicating its importance in cardiovascular health.

The heart requires nutrients to produce energy, such as taurine, thiamine and COQ10 [3].

In animals, a taurine-deficient diet has been shown to induce heart disease [4][5].

Often, dilated cardiomyopathy is the cause of death.

This means that the ventricles of the heart thin (dilate).

The animals with dilated cardiomyopathy had taurine levels of 26.8 ± 16.4 nmol/ml relative to control levels of 99.3 ± 60.2 nmol/ml [6].

The narrowing of arteries that is the underlying cause of cardiovascular disease can possibly be reversed by taurine supplementation [7].

Human Studies

In humans, elevated homocysteine levels are an independent risk factor for heart disease.

Supplementing taurine can reduce levels of homocysteine in the body.

In a study of 22 healthy middle-aged women, taurine was shown to help prevent cardiovascular disease [8].

In athletes, atrial fibrillation or abnormal heartbeat has been receiving increasing attention due to its sudden and devastating consequences.

By regulating the ion transport of calcium and sodium, taurine protects the heart and aids in preventing abnormal heartbeat.

In people with heart problems (patients have left ventricular ejection fraction < 50%), those given taurine had much higher exercise time and distance [9].

2. Possibly improves blood pressure

Elevated blood pressure has been linked to deficiencies in sulfur amino acids (from animal protein) such as taurine.

In animal studies, dietary taurine has shown it can alleviate high blood pressure [10].

A human study consumption of taurine led to an observed inverse relationship between plasma taurine and systolic blood pressure [11].

3. Can help depressive symptoms

Hippocampal dysfunction can result in neuron reduction, loss of neurotrophic factors and neurotransmitter system disorder.

In the hippocampus, taurine may modulate levels of CaMKII, key protein kinases that are involved in learning and memory [12][13][14][15].

A randomized control trial found that taking taurine can improve depression in those suffering from first-episode psychosis [16].

In those suffering from manic episodes, taurine led to reduced severity and occurrence.

In animal studies, a high taurine diet (45 mmol/kg) for 4 weeks suggested an antidepressant-like effect [17].

A low-taurine diet of (22.5 mmol/kg) was less effective.

Supplementation of taurine has been reported to protect against glutamate-induced neurotoxicity and prevent mitochondrial energy failure [18][19][20].

4. Improves cholesterol and may help prevent Type-2 Diabetes

In animals fed a high-fat diet, taurine has been shown to breakdown cholesterol.

Diabetes impairs dietary taurine absorption [21][22].

This means that diabetics are at increased risk of numerous illnesses.

Many complications of diabetes are exacerbated by low taurine levels.

Complications include nerve and kidney damage that arise from oxidative stress [23].

In a human study, oral supplementation of taurine (1500 per day) can restore blood taurine levels after three months.

An additional benefit of taurine supplementation is blood clot prevention, which decreases risk of cardiac death [24].

In animals that hibernate, mechanisms behind clot prevention have been linked to the blood amino acid pool increasing by more than two fold.

With taurine accounting for half this increase.

It has also been found that taurine protects stroke victims (post-stroke) [25].

5. Can improve ADHD symptoms

Levels of taurine in the body can affect focus.

ADHD is a behavioural illness that can have an impact on our ability to stay focused and perform optimally.

Research has shown that hyperactive behaviour is linked to levels of C-reactive protein, interleukin-6 and inflammation in the body [26][27].

It appears that taurine may be able to reduce these markers of inflammation in the brain [28].

Food Sources

  1. Scallops
  2. Tuna
  3. Tilapia
  4. Octopus
  5. Turkey
  6. Chicken (thighs)
  7. Seaweed
  8. Beef

Side effects

All studies generally research taurine for short-term effects, and long-term side effects are unknown.

  • Possible temporary itching in psoriasis patients
  • Hypothermia in patients that cannot produce steroid hormones
  • Can act as a diuretic

Pregnant women should avoid supplementing taurine as it lead to insulin resistance and obesity [29].

PSA: Do not mix taurine supplements and alcohol [30].

Dosage

Short term use of taurine is safe and effective.

Most research investigating taurine impact on stroke in animal studies uses 50mg/kg per day.

For heart failure, a dose of 1.5-3g for at least 10 days has been used.

Animal studies that found significant anxiety benefit use a dose of 126-200mg/kg/day [31][32].

It is especially important for vegans to supplement as diet is the primary source of taurine.

The Bottom Line

A sulfur-containing amino acid, taurine is crucial. Almost all the taurine in our body is absorbed from diet, however it can also be made in the liver from vitamin B6, methionine and cysteine.

The best dietary sources of taurine include shellfish, seaweed and animal protein. Vegans and vegetarians will be at a higher risk of deficiency.

Note:

Additional note regarding OCD:

Patients that suffer from OCD have high glutamate and low GABA activity.

Supplemental taurine can also help activate GABA receptors in the thalamus [33].

Additional note regarding dementia & longevity:

In Japanese people, taurine has been found to be positively correlated to longevity due to lowering the risk of death from cardiovascular disease, stroke and cardiac event.

Can you take taurine and NAC together:

The literature suggests that taurine and NAC have additive effects on ameliorating insulin resistance and can improve heart health [34][35].