Taurine is a sulfur-containing amino acid required for bile formation.
How is taurine made?
It is normally made by the body from cysteine, the conversion requiring B6.
What are the functions of taurine?
- It serves to control neurotransmitters and metabolic function.
- Taurine is important for proper heart function, healthy sleep and promoting calmness.
- Taurine is an antioxidant that also plays a role in brain chemistry.
- It can improve symptoms of depression, stimulate insulin release, and enhance cholesterol excretion.
- Taurine is used to treat heart disease, hypertension, and epilepsy.
Taurine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter involved in neuromodulatory and neuroprotective actions.
Supplementing with taurine can have a specific effect on GABA function. There are two primary ways in which taurine affects GABA:
- First, it can inhibit GABA transaminase, an enzyme that metabolizes GABA. This allows GABA to stay in the synaptic cleft longer to bind to the postsynaptic receptor.
- Second, taurine can bind to the GABAA receptor (GABAAR) mimicking the effects of GABA.
By helping GABA function, taurine is an important neuromodulator for the prevention of Excitotoxicity (=pathological process by which nerve cells are damaged or killed by excessive stimulation by neurotransmitters such as glutamate and similar substances.)
Therefore, taurine and GABA constitute an important protective mechanism against excessive excitatory amino acids. Similarly, taurine is increased in response to the exposure of free radicals elucidating its neuroprotective actions. Exposure to free radicals increases glutamate excretion, further potentiation NMDA receptor activation. Taurine modulates this effect to prevent cell excitability by keeping the cell hyperpolarized.
Low taurine may increase the risk for oxidative damage, impaired fat digestion, CVD-related problems (including high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, angina, and arrhythmias), and seizure disorders.
Low levels of taurine may increase risk for:
- oxidative stress
- fat maldigestion
- high cholesterol
- seizure disorders
Supplement with taurine or cysteine and vitamin B6.
Females do not synthesize taurine as easily as males.
Some possible symptoms:
- Severe hyperactivity
- Severe anxiousness
- Severe sleep difficulties
High urinary levels of taurine may be associated with the following:
- stress reactions
Symptoms may include:
- sleep changes
- poor concentration
- aches and pains
- social withdrawal.
Patients with Cushing’s syndrome (high cortisol) may have elevated urinary taurine levels.
Urinary taurine levels may also be high with the following:
- acute or chronic kidney damage
- inherited kidney disorders
- liver inflammation
- gastrointestinal dysbiotic bacterial or yeast over growth.
Oral supplementation may raise taurine levels; taurine is an ingredient in many “energy drinks”.
- High taurine levels may compete with glycine N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDR). Chronically high taurine excretion may deplete intracellular magnesium and calcium.
- High levels may be due to inflammatory processes in the body or excessive supplementation with other amino acids such as serine, and can be found in depression.
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