At times of extreme physical exertion, the body no longer produces the required amounts of taurine, which results in a relative deficiency. Taurine acts as a metabolic transmitter and is also known to have a detoxifying effect.
Taurine also plays an important role in the brain. Some researchers believe that taurine can be a beneficial dietary supplement for people who suffer from bipolar disorder (manic depression).
Taurine and heart disease
In Japan, taurine is used to treat ischemic heart disease as well as certain heart arrhythmias. People who suffer from congestive heart failure are reported to have benefited from taurine therapy - in the amount of 3 to 5 grams per day - and taurine may also be helpful in the treatment of both hypertension and high cholesterol.
Taurine and type 1 diabetes
Studies (1) have demonstrated that taurine acts as a potent antioxidant and improves drug-induced type 1 diabetes mellitus in laboratory rats, by combating the destructive effect oxygen free radicals have on the pancreas. Moreover, the second mechanism by which taurine improves insulin resistance is through an increase in the excretion of cholesterol via conversion to bile acid.
Because type 1 diabetes is so devastating if not treated properly, taurine in the amount of 500 mg 1 to 3 times a day is generally a good idea in these cases.
Studies (2) have shown that even in infants, taurine insufficiency results in reduced bile acid secretion, reduced fat absorption and reduce liver function, all of which can be reversed by supplementing the diet with taurine.
These studies also support the theory that taurine is essential for proper development and growth. Consequently, taurine has been added to most commercially-available infant formulas.
Taurine and hepatitis
In a double-blind, randomized study (3), acute hepatitis patients were given taurine in the amount of 4 grams 3 times a day after meals. The participants in the taurine study experienced significant decreases in bilirubin, and total bile acids.
Taurine and alcoholism
Taurine has been shown to be useful in treating people with alcohol dependency. In people undergoing alcohol withdrawal, taurine given at 1 gram 3 times per day for 7 days resulted in significantly fewer psychotic episodes when compared to people who were taking a placebo (4).
Yet another study (5) involving over 3,000 alcohol dependent people with who were given taurine at similar doses showed that taurine is more effective than placebo at preventing alcohol relapse. The effectiveness of this taurine supplement appeared to be dependent on the dose given.
How safe is taurine?
Human and animal studies (6) have demonstrated overwhelmingly that taurine is a safe - and beneficial - supplement. In my opinion, we carry one of the highest quality taurine in our office from Biotics Research.
(1) American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 71, No. 1, 54-58, January 2000
(2) Hayes KC, Stephan ZF, Sturman JA. Growth depression in taurine-depleted infant monkeys. J Nutr1980;110:2058-2064.
(3) Matsuyama Y, Morita T, Higuchi M, Tsujii T. The effect of taurine administration on patients with acute hepatitis.
(4) Ikeda H. Effects of taurine on alcohol withdrawal. Lancet 1977;2:509.
(5) Wilde MI, Wagstaff AJ. Acamprosate. A review of its pharmacology and clinical potential in the management of alcohol dependence after detoxification. Drugs 1997;53:1038-1053.
(6) Van Gelder NM, Sherwin AL, Sacks C, Andermann F. Biochemical observations following administration of taurine to patients with epilepsy. Brain Res 1975;94:297-306.