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Taurine

Other name(s):

2-aminoethane-sulphonic acid

General Description

Taurine is a conditionally essential amino acid present in high amounts in meat and fish.  Normally, an adequate amount of taurine is synthesized in the human body from cysteine and hypotaurine.  

Unsubstantiated claims

Please note that this section reports on claims that have NOT yet been substantiated through scientific studies.

Taurine is thought to be beneficial in congestive heart disease, although the exact mechanism of action is unclear and more research is needed in this area. 

Taurine has been said to help regulate the nervous system, and has been used to treat anxiety, seizure disorders, and the hyperactivity associated with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD).

It is considered useful in treating atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and hypertension, and may play a role in the prevention of heartbeat irregularities.

Recommended intake

Amino acids (AAs) are available as individual AAs or in proprietary AA combinations, as well as part of multi-vitamin formulas, proteins, and food supplements. The forms include tablets, fluids, and powders. However, adequate protein in the diet should provide a sufficient source of all amino acids.

During periods of insufficient intake, such as parenteral nutrition, supplementation may be necessary as the body can not synthesize an adequate amount. Also, non-breastfed infants may require supplementation as their ability to synthesize taurine is underdeveloped.  Many infant formulas and some parenteral nutrition solutions supplement with taurine.  

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

The use of a single amino acid supplement may lead to a negative nitrogen balance, decreasing metabolic efficiency and increasing the workload of the kidneys. In children, taking single amino acid supplements may also harmfully affect growth parameters.

Always avoid taking individual amino acids in high dosage for prolonged periods.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use taurine supplements. Breast milk contains high levels of taurine as compared with cow's milk. Cow's milk-based formulas are supplemented with taurine.

Additional information

Click here for a list of reputable websites with general information on nutrition.

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