Crystalline taurine is a colorless substance formed by the hydrolysis of taurocholic acid. According to “The Biology of Taurine: Methods and Mechanisms,” medical professionals formerly classified taurine as a non-essential amino acid. However, today medical professionals now consider taurine a semi-essential amino acid that plays a very important role in many of your body’s functions. Your body naturally produces sufficient amounts of taurine when you consume a varied diet. Taurine deficiency is not common unless you are a strict vegetarian or vegan.
How Your Body Uses Taurine
Taurine is an important component of bile acid that aids your body in absorbing nutrients. Taurine assists the passage of sodium, potassium and calcium and magnesium ions to stabilize your cell membranes electrically. Additionally, taurine plays the role of an ion and pH buffer in your central nervous system, skeletal muscles and heart and helps maintain the structure and function of your retina’s cells.
Taurine is present in animal protein, dairy products and eggs. If you do not consume the right amount of proteins, your body cannot naturally produce sufficient amounts of taurine. Infants cannot produce taurine in sufficient quantities and typically receive taurine from breast milk or other sources such as formula. Vegetarians and vegans may need to take taurine supplements. If you think you have low levels of taurine, consult a medical professional for testing. A medical professional can also advise you on taurine supplements effective for your specific deficiency.
Benefits of Taurine
According to a study published in the 1994 “Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology,” taurine may help prevent heart failure by helping your heart muscle contract. Additionally, according to “The Biology of Taurine: Methods and Mechanisms,” you can find large quantities of taurine in your white blood cells. Taurine also has antioxidant properties that can protect your body from free radical damage. Further, because taurine is a key ingredient in bile, taurine helps your body digest fat and fat-soluble vitamins.
Deficiencies in taurine can create some health complications. According to “The Biology of Taurine: Methods and Mechanisms,” low taurine levels occur in individuals with hyperthyroidism, depression, anxiety, kidney failure and infertility. If you are a diabetic, your body’s need for taurine will increase. Further alcoholics commonly have problems processing taurine. Additionally, individuals with intestinal problems, zinc deficiency, candida and cardiac arrhythmia typically lose large amounts of taurine through urine and may require taurine supplementation.
- “Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology”; Long-term Effect of Taurine in Congestive Heart Failure; J. Azuma; 1994
- "The Biology of Taurine: Methods and Mechanisms (Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology)"; Ryan J. Huxtable, F. Franconi and A. Giotti; 1987
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Heart Failure