Taurine, an amino acid, is used by the body for liver and brain functions. Your body produces taurine from metabolizing vitamin B-6, methionine and cysteine. Doctors may recommend taurine supplements for congestive heart failure, angina, cystic fibrosis and other respiratory and heart conditions. Many energy and sports drinks contain taurine.
Negative Nitrogen Balance
The main negative side effect associated with taurine supplementation is negative nitrogen balance. The University of Utah Health Care Center reports that consuming a single amino acid supplement like taurine can offset your natural nitrogen balance. This may lead to a decrease in your metabolic efficiency and a strain on your kidneys. Children taking taurine supplements may also experience stunted growth.
Research into drug interactions with taurine is sparse and inconclusive, according to the University of California San Diego. Some research points to chemotherapy drugs like ciplatin and fluorouracil affecting how well your body absorbs taurine. Though the long term and drug contraindications for taurine are not well known, you should still speak to your physician about possible complications from taurine supplementation before taking products that contain the amino acid.
One of the primary drawbacks of taking supplemental taurine is the lack of research into its use and effects. Some studies indicate taurine may be useful for treating viral hepatitis, alcoholism, hypertension and multiple sclerosis, but researchers either did not perform these studies with strict controls or other studies contradicted the initial findings. Taking taurine to treat a condition without first seeking the consent of your physician is ill-advised and may lead to unintended side effects.
The New York University Langone Medical Center advises that you only take taurine supplements that meet the highest quality testing standards. Even a minor contaminant in the taurine supplement can become significant if you take it in large enough doses. If you are taking taurine in the form of an energy drink, additional ingredients such as caffeine may produce unintended side effects.