Taurine

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Latest Edit: Hector 2014-03-17 (EDT)

See Also Amino Acids

Taurine is a non-protein, non-essential amino acid which functions as a calmer of the central nervous system due to its inhibitory action [1]. It is conditionally essential for infants as it must be supplied in the diet and is crucial for normal retinal and brain development. Taurine is synthesized in the body from cysteine and is present in high amounts in many tissues of the body including the brain, retina, myocardium, skeletal and smooth muscles, platelets, and neutrophils [2].

High levels of taurine can be found in the blood of individuals with high levels of stress reactions in the body, episodic acute psychosis, major depression, and high levels of inflammation [3].

Food Sources

The following foods have the highest concentration of Taurine:

Uses

Taurine has many functions in the body:

  • It is involved in taurine bile acid conjugation in the liver which is important for micelle formation and fat absorption
  • It is involved in the development of the central nervous system pre- and post-natally, and anti-oxidation and membrane-stabilizing activity [2]
  • Anxiety: Taurine acts to stabilize cell membranes in the nervous system, thus aiding to reduce anxiety. It can also work together with other anti-anxiety therapies.[1]
  • Epilepsy: The mechanism by which taurine works to treat epilepsy is that it works to stabilize membranes, thus making it harder to initiate an action potential and resulting in an inhibitory effect. It also may increase GABA action which is another inhibitory neurotransmitter. It does not appear to be a suitable treatment for epilepsy apart from other drug treatments and it has not been established what types of seizure it is capable of helping. [4]
  • Retinal Degeneration[1]
  • High Blood Pressure and Hypercholesterolemia: Taurine is the most abundant free amino acid in the heart. It protects the heart and aids with cholesterol excretion. It has a positive inotropic effect on the heart which aids in lowering blood pressure.
  • Congestive Heart Failure: Several studies have shown the benefit of taurine in the treatment of congestive heart failure. In one study, taurine was added to conventional therapy and showed improvement on several measures including chest film compared to placebo [2]
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases: Taurine may slow the progression of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.
  • ADHD: Taurine also has calming effects that may aid in the treatment of ADHD.
  • Cystic Fibrosis: In a study of 22 children with cystic fibrosis and documented steatorrhea, taurine was found to significant reduce the severity of fat malabsorption especially in those where the steatorrhea was most severe at baseline [2]

Deficiency Symptoms

Taurine is a key component in bile and therefore deficiency may lead to: [3]

Prescribing Considerations

  • Taurine is available in capsules, powder, and tablets.
  • No RDA has been esatblished. To determine what your specific requirements are talk to your naturopathic doctor or other trained medical professional.

Safety

  • General Side Effects: Side effects are rare but may include: itching in psoriasis patients; nausea, headaches, dizziness, and gait problems in epileptic patients
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Avoid unless recommended by a medical practitioner.
  • 'Contraindications: individuals with adrenocortical insufficiency; hypersensitivity
  • Precautions: Those with congestive heart failure should only use taurine under medical supervision.

Drug Interactions

Drug interactions include: [2]

Supportive or Beneficial:
  • Bleomycin - In animal studies, taurine was found to ameliorate the pulmonary side effects (pulmonary fibrosis) of this drug.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Hoffer Abram, Prousky Jonathan (2006) Naturopathic Nutrition, A Guide to Nutrient-Rich Food & Nutritional Supplements for Optimum Health, CCNM Press
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Hendler Sheldon S, Rorvik David (Editors) (2008) PDR for Nutritional Supplements, Medical Economics Company Inc.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bralley J Alexander and Lord Richard S (2005) Laboratory Evaluations in Molecular Medicine, Nutrients, Toxicants, and Cell Regulators, Institute for Advances in Molecular Medince, GA Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "bralley" defined multiple times with different content
  4. Pizzorno Joseph E, Murray Michael T (2005) Textbook of Natural Medicine, Elsevier