Taurine

Overview

Taurine is classified as a conditionally essential amino acid. Humans can synthesize taurine from methionine or cysteine, but under certain conditions some individuals are not able to make enough, making it an essential nutrient for those people. Taurine is essential for pre-term and newborn infants because they have not yet developed the enzyme system that allows them to synthesize taurine. Thus, taurine is an essential nutrient for infants. Taurine is concentrated in parts of the body that have high electrical activity such as the eye, brain, and heart.

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

500mg – 5 grams daily.

Most Common Dosage

1500mg daily.

Dosage Forms

Capsules and powder.

Adult RDI

None established

Adult ODA

None established

RDA

  • : None established

Active Forms

L-taurine.

Absorption

Taurine in proteins undergoes digestion in the stomach and is absorbed from the small intestine.

Toxicities & Precautions

General

There is no known toxicity associated with taurine.

Functions in the Body

Inhibitory Neurotransmitter

Taurine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps to stabilize nerve cell membranes. (1) This feature is probably related to its reported role in treating seizure disorders such as epilepsy.

Absorption

Taurine is a component of bile acids and as such it helps regulate the absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins. (2)

Cardiovascular functions

Taurine helps regulate heart rhythm, cardiac contraction, blood pressure, and platelet aggregation. (3) , (4) , (5)

Detoxifying Agent

Taurine is a detoxifying agent that helps protect liver cells against various toxins. (6) , (7) , (8)

Retinal Protection

Taurine is concentrated in the eyes where it helps protect the photoreceptors in the retina of the eye from damage. (9)

Clinical Applications

Premature Infants

Infants are not able to synthesize their own taurine. It is especially important for taurine to be part of the infant formulas for premature and low birth weight infants. (10) , (11) Studies indicate that taurine supplementation is necessary for proper development of the auditory system in preterm infants. (12)

Congestive Heart Failure

Taurine is the most abundant amino acid in the heart and CHF responds favorable to taurine supplementation. (13) When taurine is added to conventional CHF protocols, (14) or given alone (2 gm b.i.d.), (15) most patients gain significant improvement in cardiac function.

Epilepsy

Taurine is helpful in reducing the frequency of seizures in a small percentage of intractable epileptic children. (16) Various studies report that taurine has some antiepileptic action, but it’s limited diffusibility across the blood-brain barrier may explain its limited therapeutic effectiveness. (17)

Cystic fibrosis

Children with cystic fibrosis frequently have steatorrhea, which is in part due to a deficiency of taurine in their bile acids. This condition often responds favorably to oral taurine supplementation. (18) , (19)

Diabetes

Insulin-dependant diabetic patients have low plasma and platelet taurine levels and elevated blood viscosity. Taurine supplementation (1.5 gm/day for 3 months) normalized taurine levels and corrected the blood viscosity problem. (20)

Hypertension

Taurine at a dose of 6 gm daily for 7 days, resulted in a lowering of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in patients with borderline hypertension, possibly by the mechanism of lowering levels of plasma epinephrine. (21)

Symptoms and Causes of Deficiency

In pre-term and term infants, taurine insufficiency results in impaired fat absorption, bile acid secretion, vision disturbances, and liver malfunction, all of which can be reversed by taurine supplementation.

Dietary Sources

Meat and fish are the best food sources for taurine. Humans, except for infants, are able to make taurine from the amino acid methionine.

References

  1. View Abstract: Billard JM. Taurine in deep cerebellar nuclei of the rat. In vivo comparison to GABA inhibitory effect. Brain Res. Apr1990;514(1):155-8.
  2. View Abstract: Hofmann AF, Strandvik B. Defective bile acid amidation: predicted features of a new inborn error of metabolism. Lancet. Aug1988;2(8606):311-3.
  3. View Abstract: Schaffer S, Takahashi K, Azuma J. Role of osmoregulation in the actions of taurine. Amino Acids. 2000;19(3-4):527-46.
  4. View Abstract: Fujita T, Ando K, Noda H, Ito Y, Sato Y. Effects of increased adrenomedullary activity and taurine in young patients with borderline hypertension. Circulation. Mar1987;75(3):525-32.
  5. View Abstract: Zhang M, Bi LF, Fang JH, et al. Beneficial effects of taurine on serum lipids in overweight or obese non-diabetic subjects. Amino Acids. Jun2004;26(3):267-71.
  6. View Abstract: Hwang DF, Wang LC. Effect of taurine on toxicity of cadmium in rats. Toxicology. Oct2001;167(3):173-80.
  7. View Abstract: Waters E, Wang JH, Redmond HP, et al. Role of taurine in preventing acetaminophen-induced hepatic injury in the rat. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. Jun2001;280(6):G1274-9.
  8. View Abstract: Wu C, Kennedy DO, Yano Y, et al. Thiols and polyamines in the cytoprotective effect of taurine on carbon tetrachloride-induced hepatotoxicity. J Biochem Mol Toxicol. 1999;13(2):71-6.
  9. View Abstract: Gonzalez-Quevedo A, Obregon F, Santiesteban Freixas R, et al. Amino acids as biochemical markers in epidemic and endemic optic neuropathies. Rev Cubana Med Trop. 1998;50 Suppl:241-4.
  10. View Abstract: Zelikovic I, et al. Taurine Depletion in Very Low Birth Weight Infants Receiving Prolonged Total Parenteral Nutrition: Role of Renal Immaturity. J Pediatr. Feb1990;116(2):301-06.
  11. View Abstract: Burger U, Gobel R. Taurine requirement of premature infants in parenteral nutrition. Monatsschr Kinderheilkd. Jul992;140(7):416-21.
  12. View Abstract: Tyson JE, Lasky R, Flood D, et al. Randomized trial of taurine supplementation for infants less than or equal to 1,300-gram birth weight: effect on auditory brainstem-evoked responses. Pediatrics. Mar1989;83(3):406-15.
  13. View Abstract: Schaffer SW, Lombardini JB, Azuma J. Interaction between the actions of taurine and angiotensin II. Amino Acids. 2000;18(4):305-18.
  14. View Abstract: Azuma J, et al. Therapeutic Effect of Taurine in Congestive Heart Failure: A Double-blind Crossover Trial. Clin Cardiol. May1985;8(5):276-82.
  15. View Abstract: Azuma J, et al. Therapy of Congestive Heart Failure with Orally Administered Taurine. Clin Ther. 1983;5(4):398-408.
  16. View Abstract: Fukuyama Y, et al. Therapeutic Trial by Taurine for Intractable Childhood Epilepsies. Brain Dev. 1982;4(1):63-69.
  17. View Abstract: Durelli L, et al. The Current Status of Taurine in Epilepsy. Clin Neuropharmacol. Mar1983;6(1):37-48.
  18. View Abstract: Thompson GN. Excessive fecal taurine loss predisposes to taurine deficiency in cystic fibrosis. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. Mar1988;7(2):214-9.
  19. View Abstract: Smith LJ, Lacaille F, Lepage G, et al. Taurine decreases fecal fatty acid and sterol excretion in cystic fibrosis. A randomized double-blind trial. Am J Dis Child. Dec1991;145(12):1401-4.
  20. View Abstract: Franconi F, et al. Plasma and Platelet Taurine are Reduced in Subjects with Insulin-dependent Diabetes Mellitus: Effects of Taurine Supplementation. Am J Clin Nutr. May1995;61(5):1115-19.
  21. View Abstract: Fujita T, et al. Effects of Increased Adrenomedullary Activity and Taurine in Young Patients with Borderline Hypertension. Circulation. Mar1987;75(3):525-32.