Taurine: The Wonder Nutrient
I think that taurine is a missing link for many people. I have been reading a little bit about it for a few months but I finally hit the research hard recently and I can’t believe it’s not talked about more. It is needed for bile salt production, it helps reverse fatty liver, it helps weight loss, fat metabolism, heart health, AND it is key in keeping sodium and potassium balanced.
Vegetarians, vegans, overweight people, and those with thyroid disorders are most likely to have a deficiency, plus as we age our ability to produce it diminishes. We can make this nutrient ourselves but with environmental factors, we can burn through it quicker.
It has so many uses in the body that it is known as a wonder nutrient. It is CRUCIAL for so many things.
From this article from Life Extension:
“A study released in November 2012 made the bold statement that taurine is one of the most essential substances in the body. The authors wrote:8 “Considering its broad distribution, its many cytoprotective attributes, and its functional significance in cell development, nutrition, and survival, taurine is undoubtedly one of the most essential substances in the body.” “
Taurine is technically a non-essential amino acid because ideally, we should be able to make this nutrient ourselves-taurine is made from the amino acid cysteine, methionine, and vitamin B6. But research is starting to show that it may be something that may need to be supplemented with or you may need a drastic diet change to get more of this crucial nutrient. Taurine is mostly found in animal foods so vegans and vegetarians tend to develop a deficiency of it. Those with thyroid disorders or obese people actually burn through taurine quickly and it creates an even worse deficiency.
Taurine’s Many Uses
Taurine has a role in:
Diabetes– Taurine promotes insulin control and glucose metabolism and it can help prevent type II diabetes.
Cardiovascular health– Taurine helps blood pressure, fat and cholesterol regulation, artery health, plus it strengthens heart muscles and prevents damage to the heart.
Liver health– Taurine is most known for its role in making bile so fats can be properly utilized. The Liver needs taurine for proper detoxification and is a key component to prevent and reverse fatty liver disease because of its role in reducing oxidative stress. Check out this study from PubMed on liver health and taurine.
Brain health– Taurine is considered to be a honorary neurotransmitter because of its many roles in brain function. It helps to regulate GABA in the brain. Taurine is used for anxiety, bipolar, hyperactivity, and epilepsy.
Obesity- People that are overweight tend to “waste” through taurine easily which creates a cycle: they become more deficient in taurine, which makes them gain more weight, which makes them even more deficient in taurine. Taurine helps insulin and glucose metabolism plus it has the amazing ability to decrease belly fat!
Eye Health- Along with zinc and retinol, taurine helps to keep eyes healthy. Taurine helps to protect retinal cells from damage.
Mineral Balance– This is the BIG one- taurine is needed for proper regulation of the main minerals magnesium, sodium, potassium, and calcium. So for those using HTMA and have dysregulation among these minerals (especially if they are all low), taurine may be very important to balance them! Taurine is especially important for the sodium/potassium balance in the body.
Taurine is also important for hormonal balance, muscles, digestion and immune health. Taurine is also a critical nutrient for balancing copper- this is something I am still going to look into but it seems to be very important for making copper bioavailable as well as getting rid of excess unused copper.
How to Get more Taurine:
Taurine is most abundant in animal foods. Eggs, fish, dairy, organ meats, beef and poultry. The average recommended dose is 1000mg a day of taurine. You can easily get this from 3 ounces of cheese or cottage cheese. Cottage cheese has 1700mg per cup! Milk and yogurt have about 400mg per cup. (Are you noticing a trend in the amount of taurine dairy has? I do NOT believe dairy is as bad as it is made to be- it is the quality of the products as well as the state of your gut health that is the issue).
There are several supplements for taurine available. Jarrow and BulkSupplements seem to be 2 of the best choices out there. Ideally, we want to get taurine from food though. Isolated amino acids can compete with other amino acids in the long term.
And I should not have to say this but energy drinks are NOT a good source of taurine. Please don’t poison yourself with that nonsense. Many people have died from overconsumption and regular use. I cringe to think that I used to drink them often.
So there you have it- everything I know about taurine (so far!). It seems to be quite an important nutrient, but just one of the many that people are likely to be deficient in.