Taurine is an essential amino acid that occurs naturally in the human body and is abundant in the brain, muscle tissue, retina, and organs in the body. It can also be found in dietary sources such as meat and fish.
- May improve athletic performance
- May promote weight loss
- Supports a healthy blood pressure
- Promotes healthy cholesterol levels
Taurine, being a substrate in bile salt formation, was originally discovered in ox bile and was named after Taurus, the bull. It is not derived from bulls or bull testicles, contrary to circulating misinformation. Many people continue to spread the misinformation that since Red Bull energy drinks contain taurine and it is named “Red Bull” that confirms this myth. This is incorrect: it is simply an ode to its discovery.
Taurine (2-aminoethanesulfonic acid) is one of the most essential amino acids in the body. Small amounts of taurine can be synthesized in the liver from cysteine and methionine. It is an organic osmolyte and regulates cell volumes. Taurine is involved in the central nervous system development and cell protection, as well as being critical for the retina of the eye. Its’ functions include osmoregulation, membrane stabilization, anti-inflammation, ion transport modulation, mitochondrial protein synthesis, and regulation of oxidative stress.
Taurine is considered “conditionally essential” because humans can synthesize it and are not entirely dependent on outside sources from which to obtain it. The mechanisms behind Taurine are not fully understood, despite the knowledge that it is so essential.
Humans obtain most of the taurine from their diet. Though it is synthesized in the body, humans have a low amount of CSAD (cysteine sulfinic acid)–a substrate in taurine synthesis–thus, most of the taurine comes from diet and it is absorbed by the small intestine. Taurine can be found in small amounts of dairy, with the highest amount of taurine in shellfish, dark meat of chicken and turkey, and turkey bologna. Vegetarians and vegans have a lower blood level of taurine than meat-eaters.
A deficiency in taurine can be serious and affect the cardiovascular, renal, and ocular systems.
Taurine is an inhibitory amino acid neurotransmitter, like GABA and Glycine. Taurine can stimulate the release of glutamate and GABA at synapses, but it can also reduce excitatory transmission. Though GABA and Glycine have their own signaling systems, taurine acts without its own signaling and is a neuromodulator of the GABAergic and Glycinergic systems. Taurine binds to both GABAa and GABAb receptors. Taurine may have some mechanism with BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) that may explain its support of mood. Taurine can stimulate the release of glutamate and GABA at synapses, but it can also reduce excitatory transmission.
Taurine contains 500 mg per capsule. Suggested use is 1 capsule by mouth up to 4 times daily or as directed by a healthcare practitioner.
Taurine Side Effects & Toxicity
Taurine is safe in doses up to 3g per day. Both animal and human studies have found taurine to be safe at high doses.