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Supplements

taurine

What Is It?
Health Benefits
Forms
Dosage Information
Guidelines for Use
General Interaction
Possible Side Effects
Cautions
References
Evidence Based Rating Scale


What Is It?

Taurine, an amino acid derivative found in meat and other animal foods (especially breast milk) appears to shield the heart from harm. It's best known for empowering bile acids to clear cholesterol from the body. It may also fight cellular troublemakers that can damage the heart. Studies in animals suggest that taurine lowers blood pressure as well--yet another potentially heart-healthy property for those with high blood pressure. Although research has produced conflicting results, taurine may also benefit vision disorders, epilepsy, and gallstones.

While the body synthesizes taurine on its own, strict vegetarians who consume no meat products may need to pay special attention to getting enough of this amino acid derivative. This is particularly relevant for vegetarian women who plan on having children; taurine is important in the development of the visual and central nervous systems of the growing fetus and infant and is added to infant formulas for that reason.

Although first identified in the 1820s, much remains to be learned about the therapeutic importance of taurine. It is not a true amino acid, but rather a substance created from the metabolism of an amino acid (cysteine)

Health Benefits

Orally, taurine is used in the treatment of congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, hepatitis, high cholesterol, and cystic fibrosis. Other potential uses include seizure disorders, autism, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, and diabetes. It is also used to improve mental performance and as an antioxidant although data supporting these uses is very limited. 

Specifically, taurine may help to: 

Lower cholesterol. A 2006 study of 20 diabetic male rats fed high-cholesterol diets found those also fed taurine had significantly lower plasma concentrations of total cholesterol, glucose and LDL-cholesterol after five weeks. The taurine-fed rats also had significantly decreased liver levels of cholesterol and triglyceride, and the HDL-cholesterol level was higher than in the control group. (1)  

Lower blood pressure. Taurine seems to normalize the increased nervous system activity associated with high blood pressure. It may also be more effective when taken with the amino acid L-arginine, which helps widen blood vessels by increasing nitric acid. (2) The effects of these amino acids may also improve abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) and angina, or chest pain that results from an insufficient amount of blood and oxygen flow to the heart.  

Improve congestive heart failure. Several studies have shown taking taurine orally seems to improve left ventricular function and symptoms of heart failure in patients with New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional classes II to IV. (3-6) One significant study found patients with severe heart failure rapidly improve from NYHA class IV to II after four to eight weeks of taurine supplementation, and improvement seems to continue for as long as taurine treatment is continued, up to one year. (6)

Treat epilepsy. Patients with epilepsy, also called seizure disorder, convulse when several uncontrolled discharges occur in many brain cells all at once. Because taurine has membrane-stabilizing effects, it may help decrease seizure activity. Two small studies in the 1970s and ‘80s found daily oral doses of 0.05 to 0.3 g/kg and 750 mg, respectively, decreased seizure activity for about 30 percent of patients who had been unresponsive to other anticonvulsants available at that time. (7, 8)

Improve vision disorders. Taurine is the most abundant free amino acid in the retina; therefore, deficiencies of taurine could play a role in vision disorders. (9) Several animal studies have shown this to be true in cats and mice, but more research is needed to determine the implications for humans.

Dissolve gallstones. Because gallstones are hard lumps of cholesterol and other digestive materials that form in the gallbladder – the sac just below the liver that stores digestive juices – the cholesterol-fighting properties of taurine may be beneficial in preventing and dissolving gallstones. A 1995 laboratory study of 70 gallstones similar in size and composition incubated in taurine-amidated bile salts found taurohyodeoxycholate  to be a potential gallstone-dissolving agent deserving of further clinical trials. More research is needed in this area. (10) 

Forms

·        Pill

·        Powder

Dosage Information

·        For angina: 500 mg L-taurine three times a day on an empty stomach.

·        For arrhythmia: 1,500 mg L-taurine twice a day on an empty stomach.

·        For congestive heart failure: 2 to 6 grams L-taurine daily in two or three divided doses.

·        For epilepsy: 500 mg L-taurine three times a day on an empty stomach.

·        For high blood pressure: 500 mg L-taurine twice a day. 

Guidelines for Use

Taurine has been found to be safe when used up to a year. Further use has not been studied. Consult your doctor for use beyond one year. 

General Interaction

There are no known drug or nutrient interactions associated with taurine.

Possible Side Effects

There are no known side effects.

Cautions

Because the evidence to support the use of taurine is still limited and somewhat preliminary, be sure to stick with tried-and-true methods of preventing heart disease, a serious condition. Consult your doctor if you wish to experiment with taurine supplements.

References

1.    Choi MJ, Kim JH, Chang KJ. The effect of dietary taurine supplementation on plasma and liver lipid concentrations and free amino acid concentrations in rats fed a high-cholesterol diet. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2006;583:235-42.

2.    Wilburn AJ, King DS, Glisson J, Rockhold RW, Wofford MR. The natural treatment of hypertension. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2004 May;6(5):242.

3.    Azuma J, Sawamura A, Awata N. Usefulness of taurine in chronic congestive heart failure and its prospective application. Jpn Circ J. 1992;56:95-9.

4.    Azuma J, Sawamura A, Awata N, et al. Therapeutic effect of taurine in congestive heart failure: a double-blind crossover trial. Clin Cardiol. 1985;8:276-82.

5.    Azuma J. Long-term effect of taurine in congestive heart failure: Preliminary report. Adv Exp Med Biol. 1994;359:425-33.

6.    Azuma J, Hasegawa H, Sawamura A, et al. Therapy of congestive heart failure with orally administered taurine. Clin Ther. 1983;5:398-408.

7.    Striano S, Buscaino GA. [1st results on the effectcs of taurine in human epilepsy.] Acta Neurol. 1974;28:537-42.

8.    Fukuyama Y, Ochiai Y. Therapeutic trial by taurine for intractable childhood epilepsies. Brain Dev. 1982;4:63-69.

9.    Anon. Taurine involvement in retinal and heart muscle function. Nutr Rev. 1975;33:343-7.

10.  Angelico M, Mogavero L, Baiocchi L, et al. Dissolution of human cholesterol gallstones in bile salt/lecithin mixtures: effect of bile salt hydrophobicity and various pHs. Scand J Gastroenterol. 1995 Dec;30(12):1178-85.

11. Schaffer SW, Azuma J, Mozaffari M. Role of antioxidant activity of taurine in diabetes. Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2009 Feb;87(2):91-9.

12. Kim SJ, Ramesh C, Gupta H, Lee W. Taurine-diabetes interaction: from involvement to protection. J Biol Regul Homeost Agents. 2007;21(3-4):63-77.

Evidence Based Rating Scale  

The Evidence Based Rating Scale is a tool that helps consumers translate the findings of medical research studies with what our clinical advisors have found to be efficacious in their personal practice. This tool is meant to simplify which supplements and therapies demonstrate promise in the treatment of certain conditions. This scale does not take into account any possible interactions with any medication/ condition/ or therapy which you may be currently undertaking. It is therefore advisable to ask your doctor before starting any new treatment regimen.

Condition

Rating

Explanation

 Celiac Disease

 

 Small studies indicate reduction of

malabsorption related steatorrhea in

other conditions. Not studied in celiac

disease.

 

 

 

  

 

 

Cholesterol

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Preliminary animal studies indicate efficacy. More research is needed to confirm efficacy in humans.

 

 

 

Congestive heart failure

 

 

 

 

Several high-quality studies indicate efficacy.

 

 Diabetes  

Has hypoglycemic properties; more studies needed to determine its benefit. (11,12)

 

  

  

Epilepsy

 

 

 

 

Several studies indicate efficacy.  

 

 

Gallstones

 

Date Published: 04/19/2005

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