Taurine is an amino acid, one of the building blocks of proteins. Found in the nervous system and muscles, taurine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the body. It is thought to help regulate heartbeat, maintain cell membranes, and affect the release of neurotransmitters (chemicals that carry signals between nerve cells) in the brain.
There is no dietary requirement for taurine, since the body can make it out of vitamin B 6 and the amino acids methionine and cysteine. Deficiencies occasionally occur in vegetarians, whose diets may not provide the building blocks for making taurine.
People with diabetes have lower-than-average blood levels of taurine, but whether this means they should take extra taurine is unclear.
Meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, and fish are good sources of taurine. Legumes and nuts don't contain taurine, but they do contain methionine and cysteine.
A typical therapeutic dosage of taurine is 2 g 3 times daily.
What Is the Scientific Evidence for Taurine?
Congestive Heart Failure
Several studies (primarily by one research group) suggest that taurine may be useful for
congestive heart failure . For example, in one
double-blind, placebo-controlled trial , 58 people with CHF took either placebo or 2 g of taurine 3 times daily for 4 weeks.
^ Then the groups were switched. During taurine treatment, the study participants showed highly significant improvement in breathlessness, heart palpitations, fluid buildup, and heart x-ray, as well as standard scales of heart failure severity.
Animal research as well as small blinded or
open studies in humans have also found positive effects.
^ ^ ^ ^ Interestingly, one very small study compared taurine with another supplement commonly used for congestive heart failure,
coenzyme Q 10 . The results suggest that taurine is more effective.
There are several viruses that can cause acute viral hepatitis , a disabling and sometimes dangerous infection of the liver. The most common are hepatitis A and B, although there are others (with such imaginative names as C and D).
One double-blind study suggests that taurine supplements might be useful for acute viral hepatitis. In this double-blind, placebo-controlled study, 63 people with hepatitis were given either 12 g of taurine daily or placebo. ^ (The report does not state what type of viral hepatitis they had.) According to blood tests, the taurine group experienced significant improvements in liver function as compared to the placebo group.
Acute hepatitis can also develop into a long-lasting or permanent condition known as chronic hepatitis. One small double-blind study suggests that taurine does not help chronic hepatitis. ^ For this purpose, the herb milk thistle may be better.