Taurine, or L-taurine, is one of 20 amino acids produced in small amounts in your body, but more commonly found in animal products such as eggs, meat, fish, and dairy. Taurine can also be found in many nutritional supplements and energy drinks because of its potential to enhance protein synthesis, cell hydration, metabolism and cardiac function, according to the book "Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements." Supplements safe for use in most adults are not necessarily safe during pregnancy, and special precautions may be needed. Consult your physician before taking a taurine supplement if you are pregnant, or if you have health problems.
According to New York University Langone Medical Center, taurine supplementation up to 3 grams per day is generally recognized as safe; however, this does not necessarily mean it is safe for consumption during pregnancy. Taurine is water soluble, meaning that taking in more taurine than your body needs causes excess taurine to be removed through urination. If you are pregnant, use extra caution; research about taurine's safety during pregnancy is very limited.
Taurine Toxicity in Pregnancy
According to an article published by the European Commission for Health and Consumer Protection, research indicates no indication that taurine supplementation has genotoxic, carcinogenic or teratogenic, properties. Teratogenic compounds are substances that cause genetic deformities in the fetus during pregnancy. The European Union has not established an upper limit, or UL, for taurine because of the lack of evidence regarding its toxicity in adult populations. However, pregnant and lactating women should still use caution in taurine supplementation.
Taurine in Pregnancy Research
Limited research is available in regards to taurine supplementation during pregnancy, and the majority of the investigations are conducted on animals and not humans. One study, published in 2002 by the "Journal of Prenatal Medicine," found that during pregnancy, taurine builds up in the maternal tissues and is released in the prenatal period to the fetus, and accumulates in the fetal and neonatal brain. A deficiency in taurine during pregnancy might potentially lead to some birth defects. However, a deficiency in taurine is exceptionally rare since it is produced naturally by the body.
According to eMedTV, there is no reliable scientific evidence that indicates taurine is either safe or unsafe during pregnancy. Logically, there is no reason to consider taurine as a toxic substance because it is naturally produced by your body; however, you should not assume any supplement is safe during pregnancy without checking with your doctor. Supplements containing taurine may also contain other compounds that may be harmful during pregnancy, especially energy drinks, which contain high amounts of caffeine and other compounds that are not recommended for pregnant women.
- Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements; Jose Antonio, et al.
- New York University Langone Medical Center: Taurine
- European Comission: Opinion on Caffeine, Taurine, and D-glucurnono-lactone as Constituents of So-called "Energy" Drinks
- Journal of Prenatal Medicine: Taurine and Taurine-Deficiency in the Prenatal Period
- eMedTV: Taurine and Pregnancy