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What Foods Contain Taurine?

author image Robin Wasserman
Robin Wasserman has been writing and prosecuting biochemical patents since 1998. She has served as a biochemical patent agent and a research scientist for a gene-therapy company. Wasserman earned her Doctor of Philosophy in biochemistry and molecular biology, graduating from Harvard University in 1995.
What Foods Contain Taurine?
A variety of fish for sale at a market. Photo Credit: Kondor83/iStock/Getty Images

Taurine is a sulfur-containing amino acid. However, unlike other amino acids, taurine is not a constituent of any protein. Instead, it exists free in intracellular fluids. Adult humans are capable of synthesizing taurine from the essential amino acids methionine and cysteine, although they still may require a small amount of dietary intake. Newborns cannot synthesize taurine directly and do require dietary intake, according to a 1977 study reported in the journal "Neonatology." A number of foods contain taurine.

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Fish contain high levels of taurine. The Department of Molecular Biosciences at the School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California Davis reports that whole capelin contains 6.174 g of taurine per kilogram of dry weight. Cooked dungeness crab contains 5.964 g of taurine per kilogram of dry weight. Whole mackerel contains 9.295 g of taurine per kilogram of dry weight and Alaskan salmon fillets contain 4.401 g of taurine per kilogram of dry weight.


Animal meat is a good source of taurine. A variety of large animals. including birds and insects, all contain taurine. Mechanically deboned beef contains about 197 mg taurine per kilogram of dry weight. Beef liver contains about 2.359 g taurine per kilogram of dry weight. Lamb contains about 3.676 g taurine per kilogram of dry weight and chicken liver contains about 6.763 g taurine per kilogram of dry weight, according to a UC Davis study reported in the "Journal of Animal Physiology" in 2003.

Human Breast Milk

Infants require dietary intake of taurine. Human breast milk has an excellent supply. Initial four- to five-day postpartum breastmilk, also known as colostrum, contains high levels of taurine. Gradually the amount of taurine in breastmilk reduces and by 30 days postpartum, there is roughly 40 percent of the peak levels. Because taurine is important in the development of the brain and eyes, baby formula manufacturers have begun adding it to artificial baby milks.

Sea Algea and Plants

While vegetables grown on land do not contain taurine, sea algae does contain taurine, according to a 1997 study reported in the journal "Plant Physiology."

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