These days you hear a lot about turmeric being a cure-it-all supplement, but have you heard of taurine? As it turns out, taurine may be equally important.
Taurine is needed for the development and function of skeletal muscle, the retina, and the central nervous system, as well as for cardiovascular function. Studies also indicate that it can help improve mental performance, lower blood pressure in people with borderline hypertension, help improve heart functioning, reduce fatigue, improve liver function in people with hepatitis, prevent muscle soreness, and many other positive effects on your health when taken as a supplement. (1) (2) (3)
Taurine is classified as a semi-essential or “conditional” amino acid, meaning it can be manufactured by the body, but not by infants. Some adults may also suffer from health problems that can lead to them not being able to produce taurine.
Taurine can naturally be found in seafood, particularly mussels, clams and scallops; fish and meat, particularly dark chicken and turkey meat; and in dairy in very, very low doses. Therefore, those eating a plant-based diet may want to consider taking it as a supplement, as may anyone who would like to receive the potentially numerous health benefits.
Now, let’s have a look at some of the potential health benefits of taurine.
1. Heart Failure and Coronary Heart Disease
Heart failure and congestive heart failure patients both seem to benefit from taking taurine. Studies show promise that taking a taurine supplement can improve their exercise capacity. (7)
Studies also show promise that taurine can be good for your overall heart health by helping to prevent coronary heart disease, including retarding the initiation and progression of atherosclerosis. (8)
Heart health is incredibly important, so it may be wise to try supplementing with taurine from time to time in addition to regular exercise, relaxation, and overall healthy diet and lifestyle.
While there is no concrete proof as of yet, it appears that people suffering from diabetes mellitus have lower levels of taurine. Supplementing with taurine has shown potential in helping to prevent diabetes and/or insulin resistance. (4) (5)
One study showed that taking caffeine together with taurine and B vitamins improved concentration and reasoning in adolescents. (3)
4. High Cholesterol
Taurine appears to have the potential to lower cholesterol—a study on mice eating high-fat diets had an extremely positive outcome, as did a small human study in relation to diet with a high-fat content. (6)
5. Anemia Due to Iron Deficiency
A study concerning women suffering from anemia due to iron deficiency showed that taking one gram of taurine together with iron improved red blood cell counts and iron levels. (3)
6. High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
Studies in rats have shown that taurine shows promise when it comes to lowering blood pressure. Likewise, in a small human study of people who were borderline hypertensive, six grams of taurine taken daily greatly decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure over time. (6)
Inflammation has been linked to a wide array of diseases, and therefore the prevention of inflammation is important. Taurine is an antioxidant that appears to lower oxidative stress, thereby reducing inflammation. (6)
8. Fatigue and Sleep Deprivation
Energy drinks typically contain taurine, caffeine, and B vitamins, and research has shown that ingesting this combination may reduce fatigue and improve reaction times, even if you are suffering from sleep deprivation. (3)
9. Muscle Performance and Soreness
Branched amino acids taken with taurine have shown promise in reducing muscle soreness for people who don’t work out regularly and then get sore when exercising. (3)
Taurine may also help improve maximal endurance performance and skeletal muscle force performance while decreasing muscle damage. (9) (10) (11)
Taurolidine, which is derived from taurine, has anti-tumor properties and has shown some promise in treating certain tumors. (12) (13)
Taurine itself has proven helpful in reducing the symptoms of nausea and vomiting in patients receiving chemotherapy. (3)
Possible Side Effects
Taking taurine might have a diuretic effect on your body. This, in turn, may make it harder for the body to get rid of lithium. That means that if you take lithium you should talk to a medical healthcare specialist before supplementing with taurine.
Likewise, if you suffer from any kidney problems, it’s important to get professional medical advice before taking any supplement—taurine included.
There have been no known side effects in studies where people have used taurine as a supplement—taking up to three grams (3000 mg) per day. In those taking over three grams per day, some gastrointestinal disturbances were noted. (6)
While there are no known side effects, there is one report of brain damage in a bodybuilder who combined 14 grams of taurine with insulin and anabolic steroids—and one report of mania when someone with bipolar disorder consumed a lot of Red Bull, which contains taurine together with other substances such as caffeine, over a period of four days. In neither of these cases could it be established whether the taurine was the cause.
Please note that the following has been sourced from WebMD and that you should always contact a medical healthcare practitioner before using any supplement. Seeing a medical doctor is also important for the sake of establishing a proper diagnosis.
From WebMD: (3)
- Congestive heart failure: two to six grams of taurine per day in two or three divided doses
- Hepatitis: four grams of taurine three times daily for six weeks
- Nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy: two grams of taurine daily for six months has been used
- Muscle soreness after exercise: two grams of taurine three times daily after meals before exercise and continued three days after exercise
Note that this does not conclude how long you should use taurine when taking it for a condition or using it as a preventive measure. Also note that recently it was suggested that the safe level was a maximum of three grams a day, though studies haven’t shown that higher levels come without any considerable side effects. (6)
While many animal studies have been done on the effects of taurine, many more need to be done, including with humans in the right controlled environment to draw conclusive evidence as to how taurine works specifically and what conditions it can improve. However, overall, taurine shows great potential in promoting longevity by helping to prevent and treat an array of different conditions. In fact, there are many more than those mentioned in this article—ranging from epilepsy to myotonic dystrophy and from hepatitis to stomach ulcers. Research also suggests it might be beneficial for eye health and hearing. All in all, taurine is a supplement that should not be overlooked by anyone interested in improving their health. (3) (2)