You may see taurine listed as an ingredient in sports beverages and energy drinks. These products often claim to boost your energy level, but some believe it's possible that taurine could have an effect on your weight, too. Modern science has not issued a definitive study; however, animal research and initial human tests suggest that taurine may indeed help you burn unwanted fat.
Katherine Zeratsky, a nutritionist for the Mayo Clinic, identifies taurine as an amino acid. Natural sources of taurine include protein-rich food sources, such as meat and fish. Taurine regulates your blood's water level and mineral level. It may also function as an antioxidant.
You can purchase taurine supplements online or in most health food stores. Zeratsky notes that you should keep your intake at or below 3,000 mg per day, since anything above that level is simply excreted by the kidneys. She also warns that scientists know little about the ways taurine might affect your body after long-term use.
In "Amino Acids and Proteins for the Athlete," author Mauro Di Pasquale notes that taurine does contribute to weight loss. It improves metabolic function on the cellular level, he says, helping you burn more fat. Taurine can also keep you from losing muscle mass during periods of rapid weight loss; according to Di Pasquale, taurine increases your body's sensitivity to insulin and boosts your protein synthesis, two factors that aid in muscle development. Di Pasquale cites two studies that confirm his statements -- the first determined that taurine helped obese mice lose weight, while the second confirmed these findings in humans after 30 Japanese students lost weight and body fat with taurine supplementation.
Taurine can do more than support weight loss. According to Leon Chaitow in "Amino Acids in Therapy," your eyes need taurine to function properly. He notes that exposure to full-spectrum light, such as sunlight, can increase your body's concentration of taurine. People who spend a great deal of time under fluorescent lighting, which is not full-spectrum, may develop a taurine deficiency in glands such as the pineal and pituitary. Over time, Chaitow notes, this deficiency may impair your vision.
Talk to your doctor before taking any taurine supplements. Only your doctor can tell you whether taurine might interfere with your current prescription medications. Your doctor can also help you determine a safe course of weight loss that takes all your current health conditions into consideration.