Taurine

What Is It?

Taurine, an amino acid derivative found in meat and other animal foods (except for milk and milk products), appears to shield the heart from harm. It’s best known for empowering bile acids to clear cholesterol from the body. It may also fight cellular troublemakers that can damage the heart. Studies in animals suggest that taurine lowers blood pressure as well–yet another heart-healthy property. Although research has produced conflicting results, taurine may also benefit vision disorders, epilepsy, and gallstones.

While the body synthesizes taurine on its own, strict vegetarians who consume no meat products may need to pay special attention to getting enough of this amino acid derivative. This is particularly relevant for vegetarian women who plan on having children; taurine participates in the development of the visual and central nervous systems of the growing fetus and infant.

Although first identified in the 1820s, much remains to be learned about the therapeutic importance of taurine. It is not a true amino acid, but rather a substance created from the metabolism of an amino acid (cysteine).

General Interaction

There are no known drug or nutrient interactions associated with taurine.

Cautions

Because the evidence to support the use of taurine is still limited and somewhat preliminary, be sure to stick with tried-and-true methods of preventing heart disease, a serious condition. Consult your doctor if you wish to experiment with taurine supplements.

Ailments-Dosage

Angina 500 mg L-taurine 3 times a day on an empty stomach
Arrhythmia 1,500 mg L-taurine twice a day on an empty stomach
Epilepsy 500 mg L-taurine 3 times a day on an empty stomach
High Blood Pressure 500 mg L-taurine twice a day

Doctor Recommendations
David Edelberg, M.D.

This important amino acid is considered “nonessential” because your body can make all it needs to function normally. But nonessential in no way translates as unimportant. Taurine is a crucial component of the bile we require to digest fats, for example. High concentrations of the nutrient are found in the heart, brain, skeletal muscles, and white blood cells. Therapeutically, taurine has been used for treating congestive heart failure, preventing irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias), and controlling blood sugar.

HOW IT HELPS HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE

Although far from a nutritional mainstay in the treatment of high blood pressure, clinical research has shown that taurine can in fact benefit this condition. There are two possible explanations for how it does this. First, taurine is important for the proper use of calcium, magnesium, and potassium in the cells, and it may mimic a popular blood pressure medicine called a calcium channel blocker. And second, taurine is capable of lowering levels of epinephrine, the adrenal hormone that elevates blood pressure when you’re under emotional or physical stress.

Forms

Taurine is available in capsules of 500 mg and 1,000 mg. Try starting out with a small dose–say 1 gram (1,000 mg) a day–but be sure to start on some other herbal remedies as well.

OTHER SUGGESTIONS

Talk to your doctor if you’re interested in taking taurine to help control your blood pressure. Some nutritionally oriented physicians contend that in order to prevent an imbalance of amino acids in your body and give your system a periodic break, you should: Take an amino acid complex along with any single amino acid that you’re on for more than one month. Take periodic “holidays” from single amino acid therapy: two months “on” followed by a month “off,” for example.

FINAL CAUTION

If you have any serious illness, take amino acid supplements only with your doctor’s knowledge and approval.

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