L-Taurine is a non-essential nutrient often considered to be one of the most abundant amino acids in our body. Humans can manufacture their own taurine and we can easily get it in our diets from eating meat, dairy and fish. In fact, it’s a sulfonic acid with a great number of health benefits.
Taurine is thought to have a regulating effect on the central nervous system. It acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter. This allows conditions of overactive brain states such as those experienced during epileptic seizures and manic states of bipolar disorder to be treated with taurine.
Taurine is important for cardiovascular health in several different ways. It improves insulin sensitivity, maintains an electrolyte balance, supports immune health and prevention of an irregular heartbeat.. One of its many functions is to move key minerals in and out of heart cells. This movement of potassium, magnesium and calcium improve the function of heart cells. In post-mortem studies it was learned that people who died of heart attacks generally had low-levels of taurine.
Taurine has been shown in studies to dilate blood vessels by increasing the secretion of nitric oxide. This increases blood flow and thus improves the delivery of oxygen throughout the body.
This amino acid improves gallbladder function which increases the availability of bile which in turn reduces cholesterol. In a study by Yutaka Nakaya at the Tokushima University School of Medicine, cholesterol was shown to be reduced in the liver and blood of those treated with taurine.
Taurine is a powerful antioxidant. If you have been reading my other articles you know that this is key for cardiovascular health. Oxidation of cholesterol is what causes the sticky plaque to form in your arteries, eventually causing blockages leading to either a heart attack or in some cases a stroke.
Couch Potatoes Rejoice
Taurine fights obesity by improving the metabolism of fat at the cellular level. In 2004 a research study was done on young overweight and obese young adults to see if they could achieve the same results they had previously in animal studies. In this study, the participants took 3000 mg a day of taurine for 7 weeks. By the end of the study it was noted that triacylglycerol and atherogenic index levels (ratio of plasma triglyceride to high density lipoprotein cholesterol) were greatly reduced. But that’s not the best part, body weight was also significantly reduced. Significantly means losing about 2% of your body weight without changing your diet or exercise routine, even if that is walking to the fridge and back.
Research has shown that taurine supplementation has helped with conditions such as diabetes, male infertility, depression and liver cirrhosis. Some anecdotal evidence has shown that taurine can help people overcome migraine headaches. Migraine sufferers recommend drinking energy drinks high in both taurine and caffeine. It is also supposed to improve hearing acuity and reduce tinnitus, ringing in the ears.
There have been no harmful side effects shown with taurine supplementation at levels equaling 500 mg per pound of body weight. So, for a 180 lb person that would equal 90,000 mg. Although this is not a recommended dosage. Most positive clinical benefits come from taking 1000 mg of taurine three times daily preferably on an empty stomach.
- "Staying Healthy with Nutrition"; Dr. Elson Haas; 1992, "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition": Taurine improves insulin sensitivity in the OLETF rat; Nakaya et al; 2000
- The Effect of Supplemental Dietary Taurine on Tinnitus and Auditory Discrimination in an Animal Model, Thomas J. Brozoski,a,c Donald M. Caspary,b Carol A. Bauer,a and Benjamin D. Richardsonb, Hear Res. 2010 Dec 1; 270(1-2): 71–80.,Published online 2010 Sep 22. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2010.09.006
- Zhang M, Bi LF, Fang JH, et al. Beneficial effects of taurine on serum lipids in overweight or obese non-diabetic subjects. Amino Acids.2004 Jun;26(3):267-71.