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Taurine is a non-essential amino acid. However, some consider it to be 'conditionally-essential'. It can be useful for people who suffer from atherosclerosis, heart disorders, edema, and hypertension. It is important to the heart muscle, white blood cells, musculo-skeletal system, and central nervous system.

It has been used in the treatment of breast cancer, anxiety, poor brain function, epilepsy, and Down syndrome children. It is also reported to help boost the immune system, keeps diabetes at bay and aid in digestion. It has a hypoglycemic effect by potentiating the action of insulin. Other less-known uses for taurine supplements include treatment for depression, low sperm count and eye disease. Some body builders use it to help achieve muscle mass.

Diabetics may benefit from taurine intake but caution is advised until it's effectiveness has been clearly established. Yes, it can lower insulin requirements, but any experimenting should be done under a doctor's supervision.

The people most at risk of a taurine deficiency are infants, women and vegetarians. Infants cannot make taurine in their bodies, and because formula for babies usually does not include taurine, breast-fed babies have better taurine levels than formula-fed ones. Women have been known to have a taurine deficiency because the presence of female hormones inhibits its production. Vegetarians are also usually at risk because there is none in plant foods. The best source of taurine is meat and fish.

An Australian study discovered taurine to be one of the key properties in fish that protect against cardiovascular disease [Asia Pac J Clin Nutr 2001;10(2): pp.134-7]

Taurine tends to be well absorbed and tissue levels can go up rapidly after oral administration. Individuals seeking to boost their taurine intake can choose from all types of meat, fish, including fatty fish, mild fish, white fish and/or taurine supplements.

There are no major known side effects of taurine supplements, but that does not mean one can't have an adverse reaction. Someone did report to The Analyst that they experienced dizziness, nausea, joint pain, and muscle spasm from taurine supplement use.
 

 
 

Taurine can help with the following:
 
 
Addictions  Current Smoker
 While the use of taurine will not help a person quit smoking, it can help reverse the damage done by continued smoking. A study looked at 15 healthy smokers and 15 healthy non-smokers. Initially, the smokers' blood vessel diameter was smaller than non-smokers'. After taking 1.5gm of taurine per day for five days, the smokers' blood vessel diameter increased, equaling that of non-smokers. [Circulation January 7, 2003]

Circulation

  Congestive Heart Failure
 Researchers at the University of South Alabama found that congestive heart failure responds favorably to taurine therapy. [Amino Acids 2000; 18(4): pp.305-18]

  Arrhythmias/Dysrhythmias
 Taurine has been found to be particularly concentrated in the heart with its levels exceeding the combined total of all other amino acids. During active stress the levels of taurine go up in the heart. Levels go down after an MI or ischemic attack. In Japan, taurine is used to treat various types of heart disease. Some arrhythmias may require IV administration.

  Increased Risk of Stroke
 Taurine reduces platelet aggregation, which is how most natural products work in stroke prevention.

Lab Values

  Low Total Cholesterol
 Taurine and beet concentrate are very effective at thinning the bile in the gallbladder.

  Elevated Total Cholesterol
 Taurine conjugation of bile acids has a significant effect on the solubility of cholesterol, increasing its excretion, and administration of taurine has been shown to reduce serum cholesterol levels in human subjects.

In a single-blind, placebo-controlled study, 22 healthy male volunteers, aged 18-29 years, were randomly placed in one of two groups and fed a high fat/high cholesterol diet, designed to raise serum cholesterol levels, for three weeks. The experimental group received 6 grams of taurine daily. At the end of the test period, the control group had significantly higher total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels than the group receiving taurine. [Adv Exp Med Biol 1996;403:615-622]

Nervous System

  Seizure Disorder
 Taurine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, its main use being to help treat epilepsy and other excitable brain states. Research shows low taurine levels at seizure sites and its anti-convulsant effect comes from its ability to stabilize nerve cell membranes, which in turn prevents the erratic firing of nerve cells. Taurine functions as a mild sedative; doses for this effect are 500mg three times daily.

Organ Health

  Diabetes Type II
 It has been postulated that the equilibrium between the amino acid taurine and inositol gets disturbed by the increasing sorbitol levels caused by hyperglycemia. This means that taurine supplementation is as least as important as inositol supplementation. It required 1.5g/day of supplemental taurine for IDDM subjects to reach the serum taurine levels of non-diabetic control subjects. [Am J Clin Nutr, 1995: 61 (5): pp.1115-19]

Caution is advised until the use of taurine in diabetics has been clearly defined. Use only a doctor's supervision!

Taurine deficiency is also implicated in the development of diabetic cardiomyopathy. Studies have shown that some animals fed a taurine deficient diet develop a reversible cardiomyopathy. Whereas humans might not be quite that lucky, taurine certainly helps those of them with it. [Jpn Circ J, 1992: 56 (1): pp.95-9]

Risks

  Increased Risk of Coronary Disease / Heart Attack
 See the link between Heart Attack Risk and Fish consumption.
 
 


KEY
May do some good
Likely to help







GLOSSARY

Amino Acid:  An organic acid containing nitrogen chemical building blocks that aid in the production of protein in the body. Eight of the twenty-two known amino acids are considered "essential," and must be obtained from dietary sources because the body can not synthesize them.

Anxiety:  Apprehension of danger, or dread, accompanied by nervous restlessness, tension, increased heart rate, and shortness of breath unrelated to a clearly identifiable stimulus.

Atherosclerosis:  Common form of arteriosclerosis associated with the formation of atheromas which are deposits of yellow plaques containing cholesterol, lipids, and lipophages within the intima and inner media of arteries. This results in a narrowing of the arteries, which reduces the blood and oxygen flow to the heart and brain as well as to other parts of the body and can lead to a heart attack, stroke, or loss of function or gangrene of other tissues.

Cancer:  Refers to the various types of malignant neoplasms that contain cells growing out of control and invading adjacent tissues, which may metastasize to distant tissues.

Cardiovascular:  Pertaining to the heart and blood vessels.

Diabetes Mellitus:  A disease with increased blood glucose levels due to lack or ineffectiveness of insulin. Diabetes is found in two forms; insulin-dependent diabetes (juvenile-onset) and non-insulin-dependent (adult-onset). Symptoms include increased thirst; increased urination; weight loss in spite of increased appetite; fatigue; nausea; vomiting; frequent infections including bladder, vaginal, and skin; blurred vision; impotence in men; bad breath; cessation of menses; diminished skin fullness. Other symptoms include bleeding gums; ear noise/buzzing; diarrhea; depression; confusion.

Edema:  Abnormal accumulation of fluids within tissues resulting in swelling.

Epilepsy:  Chronic brain disorder associated with some seizures and, typically, alteration of consciousness.

Hormones:  Chemical substances secreted by a variety of body organs that are carried by the bloodstream and usually influence cells some distance from the source of production. Hormones signal certain enzymes to perform their functions and, in this way, regulate such body functions as blood sugar levels, insulin levels, the menstrual cycle, and growth. These can be prescription, over-the-counter, synthetic or natural agents. Examples include adrenal hormones such as corticosteroids and aldosterone; glucagon, growth hormone, insulin, testosterone, estrogens, progestins, progesterone, DHEA, melatonin, and thyroid hormones such as thyroxine and calcitonin.

Hypertension:  High blood pressure. Hypertension increases the risk of heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure because it adds to the workload of the heart, causing it to enlarge and, over time, to weaken; in addition, it may damage the walls of the arteries.

Immune System:  A complex that protects the body from disease organisms and other foreign bodies. The system includes the humoral immune response and the cell-mediated response. The immune system also protects the body from invasion by making local barriers and inflammation.

Insulin:  A hormone secreted by the pancreas in response to elevated blood glucose levels. Insulin stimulates the liver, muscles, and fat cells to remove glucose from the blood for use or storage.

Nausea:  Symptoms resulting from an inclination to vomit.

Nervous System:  A system in the body that is comprised of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, ganglia and parts of the receptor organs that receive and interpret stimuli and transmit impulses to effector organs.

Spasm:  Involuntary contraction of one or more muscle groups.

Taurine:  A nonessential amino acid but may be essential for individuals with certain diseases or nutritional concerns. May be needed for the proper development and maintenance of the central nervous system. Taurine's role in bile formation is important for fat metabolism and blood cholesterol control.

White Blood Cell:  (WBC): A blood cell that does not contain hemoglobin: a blood corpuscle responsible for maintaining the body's immune surveillance system against invasion by foreign substances such as viruses or bacteria. White cells become specifically programmed against foreign invaders and work to inactivate and rid the body of a foreign substance. Also known as a leukocyte.