Taurine is often considered an amino acid, but technically it is just a natural acid found within your body. Taurine is utilized in functions such as neuron signal transmission, calcium and electrolyte balance, and blood cholesterol and triglyceride regulation. A lack of taurine can lead to gastrointestinal problems, such as bloating and cramping, and fluid retention throughout the body. Some women supplement with taurine to reduce bloating and pelvic discomfort related to PMS, while some bodybuilders use it as a diuretic to lose water and highlight their muscle development.
Taurine and Digestion
Taurine is an important ingredient within bile and can be found in the intestines in abundance. Bile is made in the liver and secreted from the gall bladder into the intestines to aid with fat digestion and utilization. Inadequate amounts of dietary taurine can lead to weak bile and poorly digested fatty food, which continues down into the large intestine to cause problems. Lower abdominal bloating, cramping and tenderness, as well as diarrhea or loose stools, are symptoms of undigested fat in the large intestine, according to “Advanced Nutrition: Macronutrients, Micronutrients and Metabolism."
Taurine and PMS
PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, can vary widely in intensity among women, but bloating, abdominal cramping, water retention and pelvic discomfort are usually the symptoms experienced. One theory as to why PMS symptoms occur is related to pelvic congestion and disruption of the nerve impulses to and from the various neural ganglia surrounding the sacrum and lower lumbar spine. Taurine is thought to alleviate some symptoms of PMS because it helps generate normal nerve impulses. Further, taurine has antioxidant, detoxifying and diuretic properties, which may also help reduce issues related to PMS.
Taurine as a Diuretic
Taurine’s ability as a natural diuretic is said to provide relief from PMS-related water retention and bloating, although the evidence for this claim is still anecdotal. However, taurine is needed for electrolyte balance because it keeps potassium and magnesium inside your cells while keeping excessive sodium-based salts out, as cited in “Fluids and Electrolytes with Clinical Application.” In this way, taurine acts as a diuretic and removes excess fluid from tissues, which the body eventually excretes as urine. Further, taurine is involved in calcium homeostasis within bones, and a lack of dietary taurine can lead to elevated levels of calcium in the blood and other tissues, which can cause fluid disruption, edema and bloating.
Taurine and Cholesterol
Taurine reduces the secretion of fatty compounds within cells, which are the primary components of harmful LDL cholesterol and a major risk factor for atherosclerosis, or clogged arteries, according to “Human Biochemistry and Disease.” Consequently, a lack of taurine can lead to blocked blood vessels due to high cholesterol and calcium levels circulating in the bloodstream. Clogged arteries increase blood pressure, put more strain on the cardiovascular system and lead to pooling of fluid in certain areas of the body, such as the ankles and lower abdomen. Pooling of fluid is called edema, but sometimes referred to as bloating if it occurs within the lower abdomen.
Other Uses of Taurine
In addition to reducing bloating and water retention, taurine supplements are used to combat high blood pressure, arterial spasms, epilepsy seizures, asthma attacks and congestive heart failure, although your primary care physician should be consulted before you embark on any supplement regimen, especially if it is related to any disease or health condition.