Taurine (chemical formula 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid) is a sulphur-containing amino acid which the body can produce from the amino acids cysteine and methionine . Generally a person’s body produces all the taurine it needs, and therefore this substance is classified as a non-essential amino acid. Taurine is named after the Latin ”Taurus” which means bull or ox, as it was first isolated from ox bile in 1827 by German scientists Leopold Gmelin and Friedrich Tiedemann. This amino acid is found in high amounts in the human brain, retina, central nervous system, skeletal muscles, heart and platelets. Deficiencies in vitamin A, vitamin B6, zinc, and the amino acids cysteine and methionine can cause your body to not be able to make enough taurine.
Taurine is necessary for the healthy physiological functions of the heart, brain and the retina in the eye. Has been used clinically in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases, liver diseases, cystic fibrosis, seizure disorders, ocular disorders, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and alcoholism.
Congestive Heart Failure (CHF)
Taurine comprises over 50 % of the total free amino acid pool of the heart. It has a positive inotropic action on cardiac tissue, and has been proved in some trials to lower blood pressure. Congestive heart failure, a condition in which the heart has trouble pumping blood, which leads to fluid accumulating in the legs and lungs. Taking taurine seems to improve heart function and symptoms in people with moderate heart failure (New York Heart Association functional class II) to severe heart failure (New York Heart Association functional class IV).Some patients with serious heart failure rapidly improve from New York Heart Association (NYHA) class IV to II after 4 to 8 weeks of therapy. In a 1984 animal-based study, taurine protected against heart failure, reducing mortality by 80 % in the taurine-treated group with no diminishment of cardiac function. In one double-blind, placebo-controlled trial , 58 patient with congestive heart failure took either placebo or 2 g of taurine 3 times daily for four weeks. During taurine therapy, the study participants showed important improvement in breathlessness, heart palpitations, fluid buildup, and heart x-ray, as well as standard scales of heart failure severity. Taurine in preventing arrhythmia is well documented and it is thought it may act by modulating potassium flux in and out of cardiac muscle cells. In Japan, this amino acid is used to treat ischemic heart disease, which can lead to strokes, and heart arrhythmia in patients with congestive heart failure.
High concentrations of taurine are found in the eyes and in especially, the retina. Deficiencies of amino acid taurine are known to cause retinal lesions and visual deterioration, which can be reversed with dietary taurine. According to taurine in Health and Disease, taurine has antioxidant effects in preventing macular degeneration and other eye illness.
Hepatitis is one of the most common liver diseases which causes degenerative effects on the liver. Taurine might help treat acute viral hepatitis, according to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. In double-blind, placebo-controlled trial 63 people with hepatitis were given either 12 g of taurine daily or placebo. According to blood tests, the taurine group experienced important improvements in liver function as compared to the placebo group.
Diabetes is a common metabolic disease that, is usually associated with heart, kidney, eye and nerve complications. Human and animal-based studies indicate that taurine supplementation is helpful in reduce some of the complications of insulin-dependant diabetes. Plasma and platelet taurine levels have been found to be depressed in insulin-dependent diabetic patients, but, these levels were raised to normal with oral taurine.
Insulin, a hormone secreted by the pancreas, then acts on muscles and the liver to clear glucose from the blood. In the diabetic, there may be or an insufficient production of insulin, the production of an incomplete hormone, or a decrease in the number and affinity of insulin receptors. This amino acid improves insulin sensitivity due to its lipid lowering effect. Taurine helps manage blood sugar and insulin levels and may improve the function of beta cells, the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. Taurine was shown to be beneficial in preserving stem cells that lead to promotion of pancreatic hormone production in a cold-storage method referred to as “cryopreservation”. Researchersin Pune, India, at the Stem Cells and Diabetes Section used taurine as part of the preservation of mononuclear cells that activate the genes that code for the pancreatic function.
Both taurine and a synthetic taurine analog (acamprosate) have been shown to be clinically beneficial in treating people with alcohol dependence. Twenty-two people undergoing treatment for alcohol withdrawal were given 1 gram of taurine three times per day orally for 7days. When compared to retrospective controls, important fewer of the taurine-treated patients had psychotic episodes.
Clinical trials using 30 mg/kg taurine daily for 4 months resulted in a significant decrease in fecal fatty acids. Cystic fibrosis is generally characterized by nutrient malabsorption in the ileum, impaired bile acid conjugation, and steatorrhea. Patients with cystic fibrosis are less able to absorb fat due to their pancreas issues, and this results in a fatty diarrhea called steatorrhea. During study reported in the June 1985 edition of Pediatric Research, 22 children with cystic fibrosis taking 30 mg of taurine per kg of body weight per day were able to decrease their steatorrhea by an average of 17.6%.
A seizure is characterized by anomalous uncontrolled electrical signals sent by nerve cells in the brain. Taurine acts like the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which reduces activity in the brain. In a 2008 study reported in the “Journal of Neuroscience,” found that taurine is a powerful activator of gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors in the thalamus, which are the areas that the neurotransmitter binds to. Taurine has been administered intravenously or orally at a wide range of doses for varying periods of time to patients with severe, intractable epilepsy. In some studies, a significant reduction in seizure frequency was observed, whereas no positive effect was seen in others. In one study a daily oral dose of 0.05-0.3 g/kg and 750 mg in other study both demonstrated remarkable efficacy in cases of intractable epilepsy, decreasing seizures by more than 30% in 11 of 34 patients. According to report, taurine was effective against partial epilepsy but had small effect on generalized epilepsy.
Natural Taurine Sources
Food sources of taurine include, shellfish, fish, meat, dairy products, poultry and eggs; as well as dietary supplement form.
Taurine is generally administered orally, with the adult dosage being 500 mg to 3g daily in divided doses. In studies of taurine for treating congestive heart failure, doses of 2 g to 6 g daily were used. These doses were split up into 2 or 3 smaller doses per day. For treating hepatitis, a dosage of 4 g three times daily for 6 weeks has been used in a clinical study.