Taurine

Nonessential Micronutrient

OVERVIEW

Summary

Considered “conditionally essential,” taurine appears to play a prominent cell-volumizing role. It’s vital to fat digestion, fat-soluble vitamin absorption, brain and nervous-system function, and transportation of electrolytes across cell membranes.

Other names for Taurine

L-taurine

Where to find Taurine

Taurine is produced naturally in the body. It’s also found in eggs, fish, meat, and milk.

Note Taurine is not found in plant proteins.

PERFORMANCE BENEFITS

Why athletes use Taurine

As both a cell volumizer and an insulin mimicker, taurine is used to transport key nutrients, such as glucose and amino acids, into muscle cells. Active individuals report these effects enhance gains in muscle size and strength. Taurine is also beneficial during times of increased physical and emotional stress.

Ways that Taurine can enhance Muscle Gain & Recovery:
  • Decrease muscle-tissue breakdown and increase muscle size and strength
  • Mimic the actions of insulin and help shuttle amino acids and blood sugar into muscle cells
Ways that Taurine can enhance Mental Functioning:
  • Help calm the brain and nervous system to combat anxiety

HEALTH BENEFITS

Signs of Taurine deficiency

Deficiency of Taurine has been linked to:

  • Retarded growth
  • Apathy
  • Edema
  • Low body temperature
  • Liver disorders
  • Catabolism (muscle wasting)
  • Fatigue/Weakness
  • Vision impairment
Potential uses for Taurine

Research indicates that Taurine may also be useful in the treatment of:

  • Anxiety
  • Gallstones
  • Epilepsy
  • Macular degeneration
  • Headaches

DISCUSSION

More about Taurine

Taurine is the second most abundant amino acid in muscle tissue, with glutamine being the first. But it’s not actually part of the muscle tissue. Rather, it’s primarily in the amino acid pool within each muscle cell and is, in fact, not even a component of protein but remains free in our bodies. It does, however, act as the building block of other amino acids.

Many experts consider taurine conditionally essential because intense exercise as well as other types of stress deplete the nutrient.

Muscle metabolism

By mimicking insulin, taurine may shuttle blood sugar and amino acids into muscle cells, ultimately playing a prominent role in cell volumizing. What this means is simply that cells become “super-hydrated,” which research suggests may trigger greater muscle protein synthesis and less muscle protein breakdown. This could lead to enhanced muscle size and strength.

Research has also revealed that supplementing with taurine may decrease the amount of a chemical marker called 3-methylhistadine (3-MH), which is a telltale sign that taurine appears to help reduce muscle protein breakdown.

Brain and nervous system functions

Taurine helps create nerve impulses by aiding the transport of potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium in and out of our cells. Thus playing a key role in brain and nervous-system function and blood-pressure regulation. It’s also an inhibitory neurotransmitter or calming chemical messenger and cell membrane stabilizer, which means it helps calm the brain and nervous system and may help treat anxiety, epilepsy, and other excitable brain conditions and is considered a mild sedative.

More good news

Recently, supplemental taurine’s been found in research to have some very promising potential effects for people who have suffered from heart failure. Heart failure occurs when the heart can’t pump blood throughout the body efficiently. Taurine appears to enhance the contractile action of the heart, so it pumps more forcefully. Some experts suggest taurine may also help lower blood pressure, although research has not yet supported that contention.

Taurine is also vital to the proper digestion of fats, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and control of cholesterol levels. Some studies have indicated taurine’s effect on lowering cholesterol in the liver and thinning bile may also make it effective for preventing gallstones.

As a component of white blood cells, taurine is also involved with proper immune functioning and the war against free-radical damage.

In conclusion

A unique amino acid, taurine is essential — especially to those individuals who live with increased activity, stress, or anxiety. All in all, taurine is necessary to help keep the body in optimal working order.

NOTES ON USAGE

Amount

Although optimal amounts have not yet been determined, 3 separate 500-mg to 1-gram doses a day is typically reported by active individuals.

For therapeutic uses, amounts range from 1,000 mg to 5,000 mg a day, divided. When supplementing for any therapeutic reason, it is wise to do so with the advise of a physician.

Timing

Taurine may be most effective when taken without food, especially without protein or other amino acids. It may be more beneficial when one dose is consumed immediately following exercise.

Synergists of Taurine

Zinc appears to support the effects of taurine.

Toxicity of Taurine

Extremely high amounts may cause toxicity, which could lead to diarrhea, depression, short-term memory loss, and ulcers.

Bans and restrictions

None reported.

RELATED RESEARCH

  • Jacobsen, J.G., and Smith, L.H., Jr., “Biochemistry and Physiology of Taurine and Taurine Derivatives,” Physiol Rev 48 (1968) : 424-511.
  • Milittello, A., Effect of Taurine Administration on Amino Acid and 3-Methylhistidine Concentrations in Man (Vienna, Austria: 41st International Congress on Amino Acids, 1995).
  • Pisarenko, O.I., “Mechanisms of Myocardial Protection by Amino Acids: Facts and Hypotheses,” Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol 23.8 (1996) : 627-33.
  • Redmond, H.P., et al., “Immunonutrition: the Role of Taurine,” Nutrition 14.7-8 (1998) : 599-604.