Supplementing with Taurine: A Vital Amino Acid

Nadia Anderson, M.P.H.

A high dietary intake of the amino acid taurine, sometimes considered one of the best kept secrets of optimal health, has been identified as a potentially key longevity factor shared amongst the world’s longest-living populations.1 Although taurine has often been overlooked, researchers have concluded that due to “its functional significance in cell development, nutrition, and survival, taurine is undoubtedly one of the most essential substances in the body.”2 Taurine is the most abundant amino acid in human cells, but the body produces it in insufficient quantities.3,4 Taurine’s wide range of important functions in the human body have led one of the world’s leading nutritional longevity experts to call it a “longevity nutrient.”3


What are the benefits of taurine?

Taurine is involved in almost every aspect of health. It supports cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity, mitochondrial function, neurologic health and even athletic performance and recovery. Talk about comprehensiveness!

Related Article: Taurine Protects Against Age-Related Brain Changes

Who needs to supplement with taurine?

Taurine is predominantly found in animal-derived foods such as dairy, meats, fish and shellfish, and is virtually absent from many plant foods such as legumes (including soy), nuts, and vegetables.5,6 Those consuming a plant-based or vegan diet with little to no animal-derived foods would benefit from supplementing with taurine. Clinical studies using taurine at doses of 1,000-6,000 mg have reported beneficial effects.7,8 While those with a vegan or vegetarian diet may be at greatest risk of low taurine levels, taurine is necessary for so many vital bodily functions that nearly anyone can benefit from supplementing with taurine.

The safety of supplemental taurine

Is taurine derived from bull urine? No. It is a misconception that the amino acid is derived from bull urine or semen. Taurine is a common addition to many energy drinks, such as Red Bull. Although energy drinks can provide between 600-1,000 mg of taurine, regular consumption is not suggested. Unlike excessive energy drink consumption, taurine supplementation has a strong record of safety.9

References

  1. Yamori Y, Liu L, Mori M, et al. Taurine as the nutritional factor for the longevity of the Japanese revealed by a world-wide epidemiological survey. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2009;643:13-25.
  2. Ripps H, Shen W. Review: Taurine: A “very essential” amino acid. Mol Vis. 2012;18:2673-86.
  3. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Oct 23;115(43):10836-10844. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1809045115.
  4. Lourenço R1, Camilo ME. Taurine: a conditionally essential amino acid in humans? An overview in health and disease. Nutr Hosp. 2002 Nov-Dec;17(6):262-70.
  5. Wójcik O, Koenig K, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, Costa M, Chen Y. The potential protective effects of taurine on coronary heart disease. Atherosclerosis. 2010 Jan; 208(1): 19.
  6. U.S.D.A., Agricultural Marketing Service. Taurine Handling/Processing. https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/Taurine%20report%202011.pdf. Accessed 05/29/2019.
  7. Waldron M, Patterson SD, Tallent J, Jeffries O. The Effects of an Oral Taurine Dose and Supplementation Period on Endurance Exercise Performance in Humans: A Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2018 May;48(5):1247-1253.
  8. Waldron M, Patterson SD, Tallent J, Jeffries O. The Effects of Oral Taurine on Resting Blood Pressure in Humans: a Meta-Analysis. Curr Hypertens Rep. 2018 Jul 13;20(9):81.
  9. Schaffer S, Kim HW. Effects and Mechanisms of Taurine as a Therapeutic Agent. Biomol Ther (Seoul). 2018 May; 26(3): 225–241.

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