What is taurine and what are its benefits?

Taurine, an amino acid found naturally in the body, is called Taurine. Amino acid is the building block of proteins. Proteins are used by the body to repair and grow tissues.

Taurine is a natural ingredient in some foods like meat and fish. Taurine can also be found in energy drinks as an ingredient.

Taurine can also be used as a dietary supplement. Taurine is a popular supplement in the health field because it has the potential to stimulate metabolism. Early research suggests that taurine may have additional benefits for the body such as protecting the brain and heart, and the immune system.

Talk to your doctor before you consider taking taurine as an dietary supplement. The research into the benefits and dangers of taurine is still being done.

This article summarizes the most recent research regarding the risks and benefits of taurine.

Taurine’s general roles in the body

Taurine is found in some energy drinks.

Taurine is essential for overall health. Taurine is an amino acid that is abundant in muscle tissue, brain and other parts of the body.

  • Taurine is involved in many essential body functions such as:
  • Calcium levels can be controlled in some cells
  • Making bile salts
  • Balance of electrolytes in your body
  • Supporting the development of the nervous systems

According to a 2012 reviewTrustedSource, a deficiency in taurine may cause a variety of health problems, including:

  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Developmental disorders
  • Eye tissue damage
  • Cardiomyopathy is a major risk factor for developing heart failure.
Taurine benefits

Taurine has potential benefits and dangers

The body may experience specific effects from supplementing with taurine, or taking in sufficient taurine from dietary sources. These effects could include:

Healthy metabolism

Taurine is an important part of metabolism and digestion. It helps the liver create bile sodiums. Bile salts are used to break down fatty acid in the intestines.

The body’s primary method of breaking down cholesterol is through bile acids. An adult consumes approximately 500mg cholesterol each day and converts it into bile. It needs certain amino acids to do this, like taurine.

Eye protection

A 2014 review by Trusted Source found that taurine is the most abundant amino acid in the retina and protects against retinal damage.

A review found that decreased levels of taurine could play a role for eye conditions such as diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. These conditions could be treated with taurine, according to the research. Scientists have not yet conducted the clinical trials necessary to confirm this.

Protecting your heart

Taurine could help people with heart disease to exercise more.

Scientists have found a link between cardiomyopathy and a deficiency in taurine. Cardiomyopathy refers to a condition where the heart works harder than it should. It can lead to congestive heart disease.

According to a 2014 study, taurine was found to slow down the development of atherosclerosis in animals. High cholesterol levels can lead to plaque or fatty deposits in the arteries. This condition can lead to stroke and other cardiovascular diseases.

In 2017, a study by Trusted Source examined the effects of taurine and exercise on people with heart disease. The levels of blood cholesterol, inflammation and blood pressure in people who exercised for two weeks before and after taking taurine were lower than those who did not exercise.

Protecting your muscles

Taurine is a major component of the muscles. Taurine is important for proper muscle function and protection against muscle damage.

A 2015 reviewTrustedSource suggests that taurine may also be useful in treating neuromuscular disorders such as muscular dystrophy. There is still much to be done in this area.

Protecting your brain against the effects of aging

Taurine could have a protective effect for the brain. According to a Brain Defects ResearchTrusted Source 2017 review, taurine supplementation promotes long-term memory preservation.

The review found that the brain’s level of taurine decreases as we age. Supplementation with taurine may be able to help maintain these levels throughout life. Scientists believe this may help to prevent certain neurodegenerative diseases that are associated with aging.

In a 2014 animal study, Trusted Source examined the effects of taurine supplementation on mice with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Some mice were given 6-weeks of taurine supplementation while others received a placebo.

Taurine was given to mice that showed improvement in memory and learning abilities. More research is needed to confirm that these same benefits are available for humans.

Protecting yourself against neurological conditions

Taurine has been consistently proven to reduce neurotoxicity in rodents through animal studies. There is not enough evidence to prove that taurine protects against certain neurological conditions in humans.

Improved exercise performance

Although there are not many studies in this area, some research suggests that taurine might increase exercise performance.

One 2013 study by Trusted Source examined whether taurine supplementation could improve the performance of trained runners.

The study involved eight male runners running 3km times on two occasions. Participants took one taurine supplement and one placebo pill.

Taurine significantly improved time trial performance over placebo. Overall, runners who took taurine saw an increase of 1.7% in their time.

Taurine intake did not have any significant effect on heart rate, oxygen uptake or blood lactic acid concentrations. It is not known how taurine can improve exercise performance.

Diabetes markers are improving

An animal study by Trusted Source in 2012 examined the effects of taurine and glucose metabolism in diabetic rats. The following improvements were observed in rats who received taurine-supplemented food for 12 weeks:

  • Reduced glucose levels
  • Improved insulin resistance
  • Lower cholesterol

Further research is needed to determine if taurine has the same benefits for people with diabetes.

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