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Taurine Protects Heart, Eyes and Improves glucose tolerance

Amino acids are the components of proteins. These amino acids are strung together like the links on a chain, where they form the proteins that make our bodies work properly. There are a few exceptions to this rule, amino acids that perform their function individually, not as components of proteins.

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Taurine is one such amino acid. In fact, taurine is the most abundant free amino acid in the body.

What does taurine do?

Taurine is a non-essential amino acid produced by the body through the synthesis of two other amino acids, methionine and cysteine. It is an important component of bile acids, which are used to absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins. It also regulates heartbeat; maintains the stability of cell membranes; transports calcium in and out of cells; and regulates the activity of brain cells. It is also a potent antioxidant.

Taurine is believed to play a role in treating a number of conditions, including congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes, and retinal damage.

Normally our bodies manufacture taurine rather than obtain it from our diet. It is produced by a combination of cysteine, methionine and vitamin C, but low amounts of these substances can in turn lead to taurine deficiency.

Can we get taurine from food?

Taurine is found in eggs, dairy products, fish and red meat. If you're a vegetarian you probably suffer from a taurine deficiency … and if you're a meat eater, it's unlikely that you're taurine deficient. But as we age we may not produce an optimal amount of taurine … and research has shown that it's definitely worth taking a taurine supplement—regardless of your diet—because our need for taurine can often exceed our normal dietary intake or our body's ability to manufacture it. And taurine has tremendous health benefits when you get more than what your body normally needs to prevent a deficiency.

Much of the impetus for this research has been based on the discovery that cats require a dietary source of taurine, or they develop dramatic health problems including reproductive failure, growth retardation, retinal degeneration and heart failure. In fact, taurine is so important to the health of felines that it is now added to cat food to ensure their health and longevity. While this has been a tremendous help in enhancing the health of our cats, there are many reasons why we want to make sure we are getting extra amounts of taurine every day.

A powerful antioxidant

Taurine is an important antioxidant in the body, and especially high amounts are found in the retina of the eye.1 Deficiencies of taurine are known to cause retinal lesions and visual deterioration, which can be reversed with dietary taurine.

In a 1975 study, a diet deficient in taurine was associated with retinal degeneration in cats.2

Protects against macular degeneration

Taurine is believed to enhance the rods and cones—the pigmented epithelial cells in the retina of the eye that serve as visual receptor cells. The greatest visual acuity occurs in the macular area of the retina near where the optic nerve enters from the back of the eye. As we age, the macula commonly degenerates as rods and cones die, which can result in blindness. The cause of the degeneration is unclear, but it occurs more commonly in diabetics and may be the result of free radical damage from ultraviolet light or oxygen exposure.3

Heart health

Your heart beats more than 2 billion times in your lifetime, transporting blood and oxygen to your body's various systems. One consequence of aging can be heart failure, a decreased ability of the heart to pump out all of the blood that flows into it. Research has shown that in humans taurine enhances the contractile strength of heart muscle and is believed to help prevent heart failure.45 

In a 1984 animal study, taurine protected against heart failure, reducing mortality by 80 percent in the taurine-treated group with no diminishment of cardiac function.6 In a later animal study in 1988, taurine was shown to lower blood pressure.7

Taurine has also been shown to prevent the development of atherosclerosis in animals with elevated cholesterol levels.8
Helps protect normal brain activity

Large amounts of taurine are also found in the brain. Recent in- vitro research has shown that among its brain-specific roles, taurine helps prevent the damaging oxidation of certain neurotransmitters implicated in Parkinsons disease9, in addition to its already established neuroprotective roles.10

Improves glucose tolerance

One of the negative consequences of our "sugar laden" modern diets is the harmful effects of excess fructose. In animals, high fructose diets are known to cause a diabetes-like syndrome and dramatically lower antioxidant levels and glucose tolerance. Supplements of taurine have been shown to effectively counter this in laboratory animals.11 Taurine works by increasing the action of insulin, improving glucose tolerance and enhancing antioxidant levels12—which are important functions to balance the negative effects of high sugar diets.

Decreases risk of muscle damage

Large amounts of taurine are also found in muscle, where it is believed to play an essential role. Taurine has shown the ability to lower muscle damage from intense exercise, and improve performance.13 Exercise depletes the muscles of taurine14, making supplementation essential for anyone concerned with getting the maximum benefit from their exercise program.

Enhance your health with taurine supplementation

Although there is no set required daily allowance for taurine, a good multinutrient supplement will contain 250mg per daily dose.

There is overwhelming evidence, however, based on the research that's been done, that all of us could benefit from increasing our taurine intake to 500-2000mg per day.

So, do what our feline friends do. Add taurine to your daily nutritional supplement regimen. You may not gain nine lives … but you might just gain health benefits that you wouldn't want to pass up in this lifetime. 

Editor's Note:

The natural health solutions described in these article are available through many on-line retailers including those listed below. By clicking these links you help support the important alternative health research we provide.

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These articles are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always consult with a physician before embarking on a dietary supplement program.


  1. Militante JD, Lombardini JB. "Taurine: evidence of physiological function in the retina.". Nutr Neurosci 2002 Apr;5(2):75-90. 

  2. Hayes, K.C., Carey, R.E., et al. "Retinal degeneration associated with taurine deficiency in the cat" Science l88(4191): 949-51, May 30, 1975. 

  3. Gaby, A.R., Wright, J.V. "Nutritional factors in degenerative eye disorders: Cataract and macular degeneration." J Adv Med 6(1): 27-4O, Spring 1993.

  4. Azuma J, Sawamura A, Awata. "Usefulness of taurine in chronic congestive heart failure and its prospective application." Jpn Circ J 1992 Jan;56(1):95-9. 

  5. Azuma J, Sawamura A, Awata N, Ohta H, Hamaguchi T, Harada H, Takihara K, Hasegawa H, Yamagami T, Ishiyama T, et al."Therapeutic effect of taurine in congestive heart failure: a double-blind crossover trial." Clin Cardiol 1985 May;8(5):276-82;

  6. Azuma, J., et al. "Beneficial effect of taurine on congestive heart failure induced by chronic aortic regurgitation in rabbits." Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol 45(2): 261-70, August, 1984.

  7. Fujita, T., Sato, Y. "Hypotensive effect of taurine. Possible involvement of the sympathetic nervous system and endogenous opiates." J Clin Invest 82(3): 993-97. September 1988. 

  8. Murakami S, Kondo Y, Sakurai T, Kitajima H, Nagate. "Taurine suppresses development of atherosclerosis in Watanabe heritable hyperlipidemic (WHHL) rabbits." Atherosclerosis 2002 Jul;163(1):79-87 

  9. Biasetti M, Dawson Jr R. "Effects of sulfur containing amino acids on iron and nitric oxide stimulated catecholamine oxidation."Amino Acids 2002;22(4):351-68. 

  10. Foos TM, Wu JY. "The role of taurine in the central nervous system and the modulation of intracellular calcium homeostasis."Neurochem Res 2002 Feb;27(1-2):21-6.

  11. Balakrishnan SD, Anuradha CV, Anitha Nandhini AT. "Taurine Modulates Antioxidant Potential and Controls Lipid Peroxidation in the Aorta of High Fructose-fed Rats." J Biochem Mol Biol Biophys 2002 Apr;6(2):129-33

  12. Nandhini AT. "Anuradha CV.Taurine modulates kallikrein activity and glucose metabolism in insulin resistant rats." Amino Acids 2002;22(1):27-38

  13. Dawson Jr R, Biasetti M, Messina S, Dominy J. "The cytoprotective role of taurine in exercise-induced muscle injury."Amino Acids 2002;22(4):309-24 

  14. Matsuzaki Y, Miyazaki T, Miyakawa S, Bouscarel B, Ikegami T, Tanaka N. "Decreased taurine concentration in skeletal muscles after exercise for various durations." Med Sci Sports Exerc 2002 May;34(5):793-7

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Were that the ingestion of nutrients in supplement form were that simple. I have a syndrome in which Taurine (which interacts with the GABA recognition sites of the GABAa receptor complex)I have an swift,adverse reaction, to any drug or supplement that works via GABA, due to metabolic error on the G protein pathway. Anyone out there who is interested or can shed light on this? I do tolerate taurine sources; meat, milk, fish. I Become “hypo” with B6 and “shocky” with methionine (or magnesium).  Thanks for your time.

Please send a copy of this article to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

There is no such word as irregardless. Please edit your article.

Good catch Barbara!  Done!

Barbara, your an idiot. Nobody cares if there is no such word as irregardless, do u think your cool or something for pointing that out. Get a life!

Does this need to be taken with fat or a meal?

One more question, please.  How would taurine work in combination with GTF Chromium?

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Very interesting post. really informative. of all the blogs I have read on the same topic, this one is actually enlightening.
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Hi there,
Are you aware of any research re the use of Taurine in pregnancy? Specifically, as supplementation in the treatment of Hyperemesis Gravidarum? In my first pregancy I suffered severe HG from week 8 and was hospitalised between weeks 10-12. After I was discharged I happened to consult a reflexologist, who recommended Taurine. My dr in that case had never heard of it being used in that context, but was willing to allow it based on the fact that it is a natural amino acid in the body. The initial double dose (2 tablets twice daily) proved very effective and after 4 days I continued eit 2 tablets once a day. This was the only thing that helped manage my HG! If I stopped taking the tablets, it would get worse again. I have a very healthy, happy, bright child from that pregnancy :-)

I fell pregnant again last year and onset of HG was from 5-6 weeks, with hospitalization from week 8-10. The degree of severity was even worse than my first pregnancy. This dr refused to even consider the use of Taurine, due to lack of research. As a result of the negligent treatment I received, I lost the pregnancy at 10 weeks… I remain convinced, based on my previous experience, that I would have had a different outcome if I had supplemented with Taurine.

Are you perhaps aware of any information / research that could shed light on this?

Many thanks

This is something I need to look at, I’m always on my computer, looking at the monitor, writing about altering a file extension and other computer related stuff and it can hurt me eyes after some time, so I was thinking of eating more carrots, but I don’t know.

I am having persistent problem with my eyes - eye strain, slightly burred at times when too long on the computer etc
Lately I had taken taurine supplements in the form of soluble sparking tablets.
Do you think the taurine could be a causal factor?.

Everything you need is actually provided by one of those.
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