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What is Taurine?

Taurine is a semi-essential sulfur amino acid synthesized from the essential amino acid methionine and its related non-essential amino acid cysteine. This amino acid was found more than two centuries ago from animal sources. Taurine is present in both mammals and non-mammals with high and varying concentrations in several tissues. For more 150 years, taurine was touted as just a by-product of sulfur metabolism. However, taurine has been recently found and tested to have beneficial effects in conditions like epilepsy, hypertension, congestive heart failure and diabetes. Owing to its antioxidant properties, Taurine may be helpful in neurodegenerative diseases and atherosclerosis. Although most mammals are able to synthesize taurine (2-aminoethanesulfonic acid), humans especially children rely more on dietary sources of taurine to ensure there are adequate and optimal amounts available. It helps keep the nervous system and the muscles healthy, and plays an important role in ensuring the brain and the heart are in good shape.

Taurine is a non-essential sulfur-containing amino acid that works together with glycine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) functioning as a neuroinhibitory transmitter. Sometimes referred to as L-Taurine or 2-aminoethane sulfonic acid, Taurine is a nonessential amino acid, which means that it is manufactured from other amino acids in the liver. Taurine is found abundant in meat and fish. Good sources of taurine include brewer's yeast, eggs and other dairy products, fish and red meat. Unlike true amino acids, taurine is not integrated into proteins, and this makes it one of the most abundant free amino acids (the second most abundant amino acid in the muscle amino acid pool after glutamine in many tissues, including the brain as well as the skeletal and cardiac muscle. Taurine is crucial in the visual pathways, the brain and nervous system, cardiac function, and it is a conjugator of bile acids. Taurine is incorporated into one of the most abundant bile acids, chenodeoxychloic acid where it serves to emulsify dietary lipids in the intestine, promoting digestion. Basically, its role is to control the movement of ions into and out of cells such as sodium, potassium and possibly calcium and magnesium ions to electrically stabilize the cell membranes. By helping move these key nutrients into the cell membranes, Taurine is able to keep healthy brain and heart function.

Taurine is also known to provide support for neurotransmitters and to have a protective effect on the brain. Studies have demonstrated that taking L-taurine supplements can strengthen the heart muscles, thus regulating blood pressure and significantly lowering the risk of heart failure and arrhythmias. With respect to the fact that taurine plays a huge role in muscle maintenance, it is believed that taurine supplementation may be beneficial to body builders, thus gaining for itself a spot among the common ingredients added in many bodybuilding supplements. One study indicated that a shortage in taurine deficiency results to a reduced nitric oxide production, which in turn causes a decrease in blood (and oxygen) flow to the muscles. People who are keen on taking up bodybuilding or any physically demanding sport or endeavor may want to take taurine supplements, although many supplements and protein drinks already contain this substance. Taurine is also important to the body's metabolism of fats. It is an integral component of bile, and is required to help absorb fat-soluble vitamins and control serum cholesterol levels. As an antioxidant Taurine seems to offer the body some antioxidant protection by protecting the eyes through a reduction of the oxidative damage caused by sunlight, and stimulating and strengthening the body's immune system. Taurine has also been suggested as a potential treatment for epilepsy, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, alcoholism, cystic fibrosis, and Alzheimer's.

What is Taurine used for and who uses it?

Taurine is the body's water soluble anti-oxidant, and inhibitory neurotransmitter. The primary antioxidant properties of taurine is taken from its ability to scavenge and neutralize the reactive oxygen species hypochlorite secreted by leukocyte immune cells. Taurine is also commonly regarded to have hypocholesterolemic, hypotensive, antiatherogenic and detoxifying properties, and may also inhibit peroxidation of membrane lipoproteins by other reactive oxygen species

. Taurine's other biological functions include cellular growth, membrane stabilization, sperm motility, bile acid conjugation and neurotransmission. Taurine functions in tissues active electrically by stabilizing cell membranes, thus aiding the transport of potassium, sodium, calcium and magnesium in and out of cells and helping in the process of generating nerve impulses, and aids in osmoregulation (maintenance of proper concentrations of ions) inside the cell.

Due to its ability to neutralize hypochlorous acid, a potent oxidizing substance, taurine is able to protect from DNA damage DNA damage caused by aromatic amine compounds. Taurine is a potent neuroprotectant, protecting against glutamate excitotoxicity, cerebral ischemia, oxidative stress, and the formation of toxins such as carbon tetrachloride and ammonia. Taurine shields many of the body's organs against toxicity and oxidative stress due to various substances. Taurine may also enhance athletic performance as it works as an insulin mimetic, thus enabling improved glucose deposition into muscles.

Taurine plays a crucial part in many physiological functions. While conjugation of bile acids is probably its most renowned function, this is but a small fraction of the total amount of taurine in the human body. Other metabolic actions of taurine include: detoxification, membrane stabilization, osmoregulation, and modulation of cellular calcium levels. Taurine is of paramount importance in conjugating bile acids to create water-soluble bile salts. Bile acids serve as a detergent for emulsification and absorption of lipids and fat-soluble vitamins. Taurine conjugation of bile acids has a huge impact on the solubility of cholesterol, improving its excretion, and use of taurine has been demonstrated to significantly lower serum cholesterol levels.

Taurine may be beneficial in treating congestive heart failure, cardiovascular diseases, hypercholesterolemia, epilepsy and other seizure disorders, macular degeneration, Alzheimer's disease, hepatic disorders, alcoholism, and cystic fibrosis. Taurine supplementation has been indicated in studies to reduce and minimize the severity of steatorrhea linked with cystic fibrosis. Taurine aids and facilitates gallbladder function by forming tauracholate from bile acids, a substance that helps improve cholesterol elimination in the bile.

Taurine helps control and manage the heart beat as well, regulate cell membrane stability, and keep brain cell over-activity at bay. Taurine combats troublemakers at the cellular level that can damage the heart, as it comprises more than half of the total free amino acid pool of the heart. Taurine helps regulate the contraction and pumping action of the heart muscle and it helps manage and maintain healthy blood pressure and platelet aggregation. Taurine also has great potential in the treatment of arrhythmias, especially arrhythmias secondary to ischemia.

How pure is your Taurine?

This pharmaceutical grade Taurine is assayed by the manufacturer to be 99.76% product. It does not contain any fillers, additives or anti-caking agents. The remaining 0.24% by weight are inactive byproducts of the extraction.

L Taurine is a crystalline, free-form amino acid. Taurine is a relaxing, inhibitory neurotransmitter and plays a huge part in regulating the heartbeat and electrical activity of the nerves. Taurine is also required for the "sodium/potassium ATP-ase pump" to properly function, the mechanism which controls the ion balance between the cells and the extra cellular fluid that surrounds them. Taurine, is termed conditionally essential because in some situations or under certain conditions, such as in situations of high stress or physical exertion, large amounts of taurine are eliminated from the body and cannot be replaced by the body in adequate amounts. For these reasons, it must be supplied either from the diet or from supplementation. Taurine is also involved in vital functions of the human body because it acts as an antioxidant and has been demonstrated to trigger and stimulate detoxification by binding together or conjugating with harmful substances thus accelerating their excretion from the body.

What are some of the common effects of Taurine?

Some research suggests that Taurine is a beneficial dietary supplement for those who suffer from Bipolar disorder as it plays an important role in the brain. Taurine has a protective effect on the brain and especially if it is dehydrated. Anxiety, epilepsy, seizures and hyperactivity all benefit from the use of Taurine. When seizures occur because of swelling in the brain tissue, for instance, Taurine reduces the number of seizures that occur. People who suffer from congestive heart failure benefit from 3-5 grams a day of Taurine as well as treating high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Studies have shown that Taurine acts as a powerful antioxidant, improves drug-induced type 1 diabetes mellitus in lab rats, and combats the destruction of oxygen free radicals on the pancreas. Taurine improves insulin resistance by increasing secretion of cholesterol and turning it into bile acid. Infants have also been studied and the results found that Taurine is essential for proper development and growth. Because of this, Taurine is now added to most commercial infant formulas.

Four grams of Taurine given three times a day in a double blind study showed that acute hepatitis patients experienced significant decreases in bilirubin and total bile acids. Moreover, Taurine is now useful in treating alcohol dependency. Alcoholic were given one gram of Taurine three times a day during the first seven days of alcohol withdrawal and they showed a marked decrease in psychotic episodes or withdrawal symptoms. Taurine is one of the few substances that help in the treatment of macular degeneration. It sometimes helps some causes of blindness and retinitis pigmentosa. High concentrations of polyunsaturated fats are contained in retinas. Damage occurs in the retinas if there is a deficiency of these fats in the retinas. Taurine's antioxidant abilities help protect the retina.Additionally, those suffering from Down's syndrome or asthma take Taurine supplements as well. Taurine powder is commonly used as an ingredient in energy drinks and powdered energy drink formulas because of the boost in physical performance, endurance and energy it gives prior to strenuous physical activity or workouts.

Effects of Taurine deficiency

Low or insufficient amounts of taurine are linked with numerous pathological lesions, including cardiomyopathy, retinal degeneration, and growth retardation, especially if deficiency happens during development. Symptoms of taurine deficiency include anxiety, epilepsy, hyperactivity and poor brain function. Low levels of the amino acid cysteine and vitamin B6 can also lead to or cause taurine deficiency.

What is the daily suggested dose of Taurine?

Altough typical daily Taurine dosage ranges from 500-1500 mg per day, up to 3,000 milligrams of supplemental taurine a day is considered safe. Any excess taurine is simply excreted by the kidneys. Taurine is found in eggs, fish, meat, and milk. Although there are no official Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for taurine since adults are able to manufacture taurine in the body, newborns can't make it themselves, and as such they have to get it from outside sources. If you are feeding your infant formula, make sure it is fortified with L-taurine.

As always, if you have concerns or questions, consult a physician or a health care professional before taking any supplements. Before taking any kind of medicine, check with your doctor to ensure that the supplement you want to take is right for you. You may be allergic or you may have a sensitive stomach which may raise the need for special instruction as far as dosage goes.

Precautions and Potential side effects of Taurine

Taurine in commonly used as one of the staple ingredients in energy drinks, with many containing 1000mg per serving, and some as much as 1,400 mg. Moderation is important, however. Little is known about the effects of heavy or long-term taurine use. It's also important to remember that other ingredients in energy drinks, such as high amounts of caffeine or sugar, can be harmful. For example, too much caffeine can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, interrupt your sleep, and cause nervousness and irritability. A 2003 study by the European Food Safety Authority found no adverse effects for up to 1,000 mg of Taurine per kilogram of bodyweight per day; however this was in regards to Taurine alone, noting they did not compare the effects of Taurine when combined with the other ingredients in energy drinks.

A review published in 2008 found no documented reports of negative health effects associated with the amount of taurine used in energy drinks, concluding that "The amounts of guarana, taurine, and ginseng found in popular energy drinks are far below the amounts expected to deliver either therapeutic benefits or adverse events." As such Taurine is considered safe when used in accordance with proper dosing guidelines. Be advised though that Taurine may interact with certain chemotherapy medications, so be sure to consult with a qualified health care provider before taking taurine supplements. There have been no toxic side effects reported so far, although some studies have shown that taurine may have a depressing effect on your nervous system. As always if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, be sure to consult with your physician before taking Taurine. If you are presently on prescription medication, it is advised to speak with your physician as well.

This information is NOT a substitute for medical advice. ALWAYS consult your doctor or pharmacist. Do not use any dietary supplement as a replacement for conventional care, or as a reason to postpone seeing a doctor about a medical problem. Tell all your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.

Taste, solubility, and suggested preparation of Taurine

Since this product dissolves quickly in water, just mix your usual dose with water or juice and drink. As a dietary supplement, take one level scoop (1000 mg) with water or your favorite beverage 2-3 times daily with meals or on an empty stomach, or as directed by your physician. If you experience stomach irritation, take with meals. Mix the powder for 15 to 20 seconds using a shaker cup or mix thoroughly with a spoon. Taurine is nontoxic and well absorbed. This pure powdered form mixes well with juice or water and has a slightly sour taste and does not have an odor.

Taurine is used in the following Proprietary Formulas

Red Bull, Bacchus Energy Drink, BSN NO-Xplode, Gaspari Nutrition SuperPump250, MuscleTech Cell-Tech Hardcore Pro Series, Double-T Sports CreaDyl, MuscleTech Nitro-Tech Hardcore Pro Series, AllMax Nutrition Taurine, Cheap Supplements Taurine, Higher Power L-Taurine XS, NOW Taurine, NOW Taurine Double Strength, NOW Taurine Powder, PrimaForce Taurine, SciFit L-Taurine, Supplement Direct Taurine, Twinlab Mega Taurine

References & Further Research

Benefit of taurine for vision: Dietary Taurine Supplementation Ameliorates Diabetic Retinopathy via Anti-excitotoxicity of Glutamate in Streptozotocin-induced Sprague-Dawley Rats
The purpose of this study was to investigate whether l taurine ameliorates the diabetic retinopathy. Sprague-Dawley rats were injected with streptozotocin to establish experimental diabetic model, then fed without or with 1.2% taurine for additional 4-12 weeks. After that, the protective effects of dietary taurine supplementation on diabetic retinopathy were estimated. Our results showed that chronic taurine supplement effectively improved diabetic retinopathy Chronic taurine supplementation increased glutamate transporter expression, decreased intermediate filament glial fibrillary acidic protein and N-methyl-D: -aspartate receptor subunit 1 expression in diabetic retina. These results demonstrated that chronic taurine supplementation ameliorates diabetic retinopathy via anti-excitotoxicity of glutamate in rats.

Taurine amino acid as antioxidant: Effect of taurine on antioxidant enzyme system in B16F10 melanoma cells
There is now increasing evidence that free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) are involved in a variety of pathological events. Reactive oxygen species are produced during normal cellular function and lead to lipid peroxidation, massive protein oxidation and degradation. Taurine is an abundant free amino acid in inflammatory cells, where it is thought to be cytoprotective. The aim of the present study was to examine whether taurine enhances endogenous antioxidant enzyme activity and/or regulates ROS generation in B16F10 mouse melanoma cells. B16F10 cells were exposed to medium containing taurine for a period of 24 h. Cell viability, measured by the MTT assay, exhibited a dose-dose dependent inhibition. Taurine increased the activities of superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and CAT compared to those of the control, an effect paralleling an increase in gene expression. Taurine also reduced ROS content in a dose-dependent manner. Taken together, our results suggest that taurine decreases ROS levels by increasing the levels of the antioxidant enzymes.

Taurine supplementation increases skeletal muscle force production and protects muscle function during and after high-frequency in vitro stimulation
Recent studies report that depletion and repletion of muscle taurine (Tau) to endogenous levels affects skeletal muscle contractility in vitro. In this study, muscle Tau content was raised above endogenous levels by supplementing male Sprague-Dawley rats with 2.5% (wt/vol) Tau in drinking water for 2 wk, after which extensor digitorum longus (EDL) muscles were examined for in vitro contractile properties, fatigue resistance, and recovery from fatigue after two different high-frequency stimulation bouts. Tau supplementation increased muscle Tau content by 40% and isometric twitch force by 19%, shifted the force-frequency relationship upward and to the left, increased specific force by 4.2%, and increased muscle calsequestrin protein content by 49%. Finally, Tau transporter protein expression was not altered by the Tau supplementation. Our results demonstrate that raising Tau content above endogenous levels increases twitch and subtetanic and specific force in rat fast-twitch skeletal muscle. Also, we demonstrate that raising Tau protects muscle function during high-frequency in vitro stimulation and the ensuing recovery period and helps reduce oxidative stress during prolonged stimulation.

Effect on exercise: Seven days of oral taurine supplementation does not increase muscle taurine content or alter substrate metabolism during prolonged exercise in humans
This study examined the plasma taurine response to acute oral taurine supplementation, and the effects of 7 days of T on muscle amino acid content and substrate metabolism during 2 h of cycling at approximately 60% peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak). Our data indicate that acute T produces a 13-fold increase in plasma taurine concentration; despite the ability to significantly elevate plasma taurine for extended periods throughout the day, 7 days of T does not alter skeletal muscle taurine content or carbohydrate and fat oxidation during exercise; and T appears to have some impact on muscle amino acid response to exercise.

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