Taurine

View Heart Disease (Coronary Artery Disease) Slideshow Pictures

What other names is Taurine known by?

2-Aminoethylsulfonic Acid, 2-Aminoethane Sulfonic Acid, Acide Aminoéthylsulfonique, Acide Kétoisocaproïque de Taurine, Acid Aminoethanesulfonate, Aminoethanesulfonate, Aminoéthylsulfonique, Éthyl Ester de Taurine, L-Taurine, Taurina, Taurine Ethyl Ester, Taurine Ketoisocaproic Acid.

What is Taurine?

Taurine is an amino sulfonic acid, but it is often referred to as an amino acid, a chemical that is a required building block of protein. Taurine is found in large amounts in the brain, retina, heart, and blood cells called platelets. The best food sources are meat and fish.

You may see taurine referred to as "a conditional amino acid," to distinguish it from "an essential amino acid." A "conditional amino acid" can be manufactured by the body, but an "essential amino acid" cannot be made by the body and must be provided by the diet. People who, for one reason or another, cannot make taurine, must get all the taurine they need from their diet or supplements. For example, supplementation is necessary in infants who are not breastfed because their ability to make taurine is not yet developed and cow's milk does not provide enough taurine. So taurine is often added to infant formulas. People who are being tube-fed often need taurine as well, so it is added to the nutritional products that they use. Excess taurine is excreted by the kidneys.

Some people take taurine supplements as medicine to treat congestive heart failure (CHF), high blood pressure, liver disease (hepatitis), high cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia), and cystic fibrosis. Other uses include seizure disorders (epilepsy), autism, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), eye problems (disorders of the retina), diabetes, and alcoholism. It is also used to improve mental performance and as an antioxidant. Antioxidants protect cells of the body from damage that results from certain chemical reactions involving oxygen (oxidation).

Possibly Effective for...

  • Congestive heart failure (CHF). Taking 2-3 grams of taurine by mouth one to two times daily for 6-8 weeks seems to improve heart function and symptoms in patients with moderate heart failure (New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class II) to severe heart failure (New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class IV). Some patients with severe heart failure rapidly improve from NYHA class IV to II after 4-8 weeks of treatment. Improvement seems to continue for as long as taurine treatment is continued, up to one year.
  • Liver disease (hepatitis). Early research suggests that taking 1.5-4 grams of taurine daily for up to 3 months improves liver function in people with hepatitis.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Infant development. Research suggests that feeding infants a formula containing taurine for up to 12 weeks does not affect weight, height, head circumference, or behavior in infants.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • An eye disease called age-related macular degeneration. Early research suggests that taking a nutritional supplement containing taurine by mouth, in addition to standard care for 6 months, improves vision in people with AMD.
  • Cystic fibrosis. Taurine supplementation might be useful along with usual treatment to reduce fatty stools (steatorrhea) in children with cystic fibrosis. However, it does not seem to improve growth, lung function, or other symptoms of cystic fibrosis.
  • Diabetes. Early research suggests that taking 1.5 grams of taurine twice daily for 4 months does not affect blood sugar, blood fats, or insulin levels in people with diabetes.
  • Fatigue. Early research suggests that taking an energy drink containing taurine prior to driving may reduce driver fatigue.
  • Exercise performance. Research suggests that taking 1-1.66 grams of taurine before exercise does not improve overall exercise performance. Using products containing taurine combined with other ingredients might improve cycling performance but not strength training or sprint performance.
  • Stomach ulcers caused by Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) infection. Early research suggest that taking 500 mg of taurine twice daily together with conventional treatments for 6 weeks reduces H. pylori infection and improves ulcer healing.
  • High blood pressure. Early research suggests that taking 6 grams of taurine daily for 7 days reduces blood pressure in people with borderline high blood pressure.
  • Anemia due to iron deficiency. Early research suggests that taking iron with 1000 mg of taurine improves red blood cell counts and iron levels in women with anemia due to iron deficiency.
  • Mental performance. Early clinical research suggests that taurine, in combination with caffeine and B vitamins (Red Bull Energy Drink), can improve attention and reasoning in adolescents, but does not improve memory.
  • Muscle soreness. Research suggests that taking 2 grams of taurine together with branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) three times daily for 2 weeks reduces muscle soreness in healthy people who do not exercise regularly.
  • Inherited muscle wasting disease (myotonic dystrophy). Early research suggests that taking100-150 mg/kg of taurine for 6 months improves the ability to relax muscles after use in people with myotonic dystrophy.
  • Lack of sleep. Early research suggests that taking taurine plus caffeine or a combination product containing taurine, caffeine, glucuronolactone, and B vitamins (Red Bull Energy Drink) reduces sleepiness and improves reaction time in people who are sleep deprived.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate taurine for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

How does Taurine work?

Researchers aren't exactly sure why taurine seems to help congestive heart failure (CHF). There is some evidence that it improves the function of the left ventricle, one of the chambers of the heart. Taurine might also improve heart failure because it seems to lower blood pressure and calm the sympathetic nervous system, which is often too active in people with high blood pressure and CHF. The sympathetic nervous system is the part of the nervous system that responds to stress.

Are there safety concerns?

Taurine is POSSIBLY SAFE for adults and children when taken by mouth in appropriate amounts. Taurine has been used safely in adults in studies lasting up to one year. It has been given safely to children for up to 4 months. People enrolled in research studies have not reported any side effects connected with the use of taurine. However, there is one report of brain damage in a body-builder who took about 14 grams of taurine in combination with insulin and anabolic steroids. It is not known if this was due to the taurine or the other drugs taken.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the safety of taurine in pregnancy and during breast-feeding. Avoid using it.

Bipolar disorder: There is some concern that taking too much taurine might make bipolar disorder worse. In one case, a 36-year-old man with adequately controlled bipolar disorder was hospitalized with symptoms of mania after consuming several cans of an energy drink containing taurine, caffeine, inositol, and other ingredients (Red Bull Energy Drink) over a period of 4 days. It is not known if this is related to taurine, caffeine, inositol, a different ingredient, or a combination of the ingredients.

Are there any interactions with medications?



Lithium
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Taurine might slow down the rate at which lithium is flushed out of the body. This could increase levels of lithium that stay in the body. As a result, your healthcare provider might need to lower your dose of lithium.



Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)
Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Taurine might decrease blood pressure in some people. Taking taurine along with medications used for lowering high blood pressure might cause your blood pressure to go too low. However, it's not known if this is a big concern. Do not take too much taurine if you are taking medications for high blood pressure. Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.

Dosing considerations for Taurine.

The following doses have been studied in scientific research:

BY MOUTH:
  • Congestive heart failure: 2-6 grams of taurine per day in two or three divided doses.
  • Hepatitis: 4 grams of taurine 3 times daily for 6 weeks.
  • Nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy: 2 grams of taurine daily for 6 months has been used.
  • Muscle soreness after exercise: 2 grams of taurine three times daily after meals before exercise and continued three days after exercise.
FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Reviewed on 3/29/2011 12:35:40 PM

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors