Taurine is often referred to as an amino acid. Amino acids are the building block of proteins. But taurine is actually an amino sulfonic acid. It is not used to build protein but has many other important functions in the body. Taurine is found in large amounts in the brain, retina, heart, and blood cells called platelets. The best food sources are meat, fish, and eggs.

Taurine can be manufactured in the body of most people from other amino acids. But some people cannot make it and need to get taurine from their diet or supplements. Breast milk is rich in taurine, but infants who are not breastfed do not get enough taurine and do not have the ability to make it, so taurine is often added to infant formulas. It is also added to the formulas used for tube-feeding in adults.

People take taurine for congestive heart failure (CHF) and swelling (inflammation) of the liver (hepatitis). It is also used for athletic performance, boosting energy, diabetes, and other conditions, is but there is no good scientific evidence to support these uses.

How does it work ?

Taurine has important functions in the heart and brain. It helps support nerve growth. It might also benefit people with heart failure by lowering blood pressure and calming the nervous system. This might help prevent heart failure from becoming worse.

General roles of taurine in the body

Taurine is vital for a person’s overall health. It is one of the most abundant amino acids in the muscle tissue, brain, and many other organs in the body.

Taurine plays a role in several essential body functions, such as:

As a 2012 review notes, a lack of taurine in the body may lead to a range of health complications, including:

Supplementing with taurine or getting plenty of taurine from dietary sources may have specific effects on the body. These effects may include:

Promoting healthy metabolism

Taurine plays an essential role in metabolism and digestion, as it helps the liver to create bile salts. Bile salts help break down fatty acids in the intestines.

Bile acids are the body’s main way of breaking down cholesterol. Each day, an adult breaks down about 500mg of cholesterol and converts it to bile. To do this, it needs specific amino acids, such as taurine.

Protecting the eyes

According to a 2014 review, taurine is the most plentiful amino acid in the retina of the eye and helps protect against retinal degeneration.

The review also states that reduced amounts of taurine may play a role in eye disorders, such as laucoma and diabetic retinopathy. The research suggests that doctors should consider taurine as a potential treatment for these conditions. However, scientists have yet to conduct the necessary clinical trials.

Protecting the heart

Scientists have identified a link between a lack of taurine and cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is a condition that causes the heart to work harder than it should. It is a major risk factor for congestive heart failure.

A 2014 review indicates that taurine helped slow the progression of a therosclerosis in animals. Atherosclerosis refers to a buildup of fatty deposits or plaque within the arteries due to high cholesterol levels. This condition is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, such as stroke.

A 2017 study investigated the effects of taurine supplements and exercise in people with heart failure. People who exercised before and after taking taurine for 2 weeks showed lower levels of blood cholesterol and inflammation, compared to those who took a placebo.

Protecting the muscles

The muscles contain high levels of taurine. It helps to ensure proper muscle function and protects against muscle damage.

According to a 2015 review, taurine could also play an important role in the treatment of neuromuscular disorders, such as muscular dystrophy. However, there is a need for more research in this area.

Protecting against brain aging

Taurine may have a protective effect on the brain. As a 2017 review posted to Brain Defects Research notes, taurine supplementation works to promote healthy long-term memory storage.

According to the review, the amount of taurine in the brain decreases with age. Taurine supplementation may help to maintain these levels across the lifespan. Some scientists believe that this could fend off certain age-related neurodegenerative conditions.

A 2014 animal study investigated the effects of taurine supplementation in mice with Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). Some mice received the 6-week taurine supplementation, while some received a placebo.

Mice that received the taurine showed improvements in Alzheimer-like learning and memory deficits. Further research is necessary to determine whether these same benefits apply to humans.

Protecting against neurological conditions

According to the review in Brain Defects, taurine imbalance also seems to play a role in epilepsy, autism, particularly in people who have experienced a brain injury.

Animal studies have consistently shown that taurine helps alleviate symptoms of neurotoxicity and neurological impairment in rodents. However, there is currently insufficient evidence to confirm whether taurine helps to protect against specific neurological conditions in humans.

Improving exercise performance

Though there is limited research in the area, taurine may boost exercise performance in some people.

A 2013 study investigated whether taurine supplementation would improve exercise performance in trained runners.

Eight male runners took part in the study, which involved a 3km time trial on two separate occasions. Each participant took a taurine supplement on one occasion, and a placebo pill on the other.

Time trial performances were significantly better after taking taurine compared to placebo. Overall, the runners in the taurine condition saw a 1.7%improvement in their time.

However, taurine ingestion did not significantly affect heart rate, oxygen uptake, or concentrations of lactic acid in the blood. As such, it is still not clear how taurine improves exercise performance.

Improving markers of diabetes

A 2012 animal study investigated the effects of taurine on glucose and fat metabolism in diabetic rats. Rats that were fed a taurine-supplemented diet for 12 weeks showed the following improvements compared to rats that received the placebo:

However, further research is necessary to determine whether taurine provides the same benefits in humans with diabetes.


Taurine has been studied in doses of 1 to 6 g/day.Chronic hepatitis: Taurine 2 g 3 times daily for 3 months. Exercise: Various dosages and treatment durations of taurine, either alone or as part of a combination energy product, have been evaluated for effects on exercise. Hypertension: Supplemental taurine 3 to 6 g/day (treatment duration range, 1 to 8 weeks). Portal hypertension: Taurine 6 g/day for 1 month.


Contraindications have not been identified.

Taurine (2-Aminoethanesulfonic Acid).

Taurine is another example of a conditional vitamin because it is synthesized by animals (including humans), but not in sufficient amounts. It has been shown to be important in preventing numerous health problems, such as CVD, brain function, diabetes, and mitochondrial diseases, as summarized below. Because of taurine’s extensive involvement in health problems that lead to long-term damage, it is proposed here that it is also a longevity vitamin.

The synthesis of taurine involves cysteine decarboxylation and sulfhydryl oxidation. The rate of its biosynthesis is species-dependent, with a low level in humans, compared with rodents (which led to the suggestion that supplementation might be beneficial) It is located in the cytosol and in mitochondria and it is present in virtually all human tissues at millimolar concentrations; it is especially high in electrically excitable and secretory tissues and in platelets. A 70-kg human contains about 70 g of taurine . An excellent review of all of the earlier work on taurine is available in Huxtable. Most of taurine is acquired from the diet, mainly from fish and other seafood, seaweed, eggs, and dark-meat poultry.

Taurine is particularly important in the mitochondria, where it is present as 5-taurinomethyl-uridine in tRNA-leu and tRNA-trp, and as 5-taurinomethyl-2-thiouridine in tRNA-glu, tRNA-gln, and tRNA-lys. In all five tRNAs, it is located in the wobble position, where it functions to read accurately alternate codons in the mitochondrial genome. A taurine modification defect in mitochondrial tRNA is associated with the mitochondrial diseases MELAS (mitochondrial encephalopathy, encephalopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes) and MERRF (myoclonus epilepsy with ragged-red fibers), suggesting causality, and also that a taurine deficiency could result in the same diseases. Because of the involvement of mitochondria in energy production, there has been much interest in taurine in sports medicine in humans with reference to exercise-induced fatigue and recovery, as has been reviewed previously In addition, a strong case has been made that taurine is the main buffer in mitochondria and that it moderates mitochondrial oxidant production.

Another possibly important function of taurine is its detoxification of chloramine (a very toxic membrane-soluble oxidant) via its conversion to taurine-chloramine).

Examples of several important insidious long-term pathologies that taurine would protect against are: CVD, brain dysfunction, and diabetes. Taurine effects on CVD have been examined by numerous RCTs and have been reviewed previously. Taurine supplementation lowers blood pressure, improves vascular function, and raises plasma hydrogen sulfide levels as shown in a recent RCT with prehypertension patients. Taurine consumption was the most significant factor associated with reduced risk of ischemic heart disease (IHD) in two international epidemiological studies of CVD in 61 populations (25 countries; n = 14,000): Japanese people in Okinawa had the highest taurine dietary intake and the lowest incidence of IHD and longest lifespan. In contrast, Japanese immigrants in Brazil who eat little seafood, but more meat and salt, had a 17-y shorter lifespan as a consequence of a very high IHD mortality. Other human clinical studies showed that taurine decreases platelet aggregation, serum cholesterol levels, LDL/triglyceride levels, and enhances cardiac function.

Taurine plays an important role in brain development, including neuronal proliferation, stem cell proliferation, and differentiation; it has no toxic effects in humans. It is a neuromodulator in the central nervous system: it activates the GABA- and glycine-insensitive chloride channel and it inhibits the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor. It is also neuroprotective and has a role in neural development and neurogenesis; it was shown in an RCT that symptoms of psychopathology were improved by its administration in patients with first-episode psychosis (62).

Diabetic remediation by taurine has been reviewed previously. Its supplementation remediates diabetic pathologies, including retinopathy, neuropathy, nephropathy, cardiopathy, atherosclerosis, altered platelet aggregation, and endothelial dysfunction. In patients with type 1 and type 2 diabetes the taurine transporter is up-regulated in mononuclear blood cells, indicating that increased levels of taurine are sought by the cell. In rats, taurine reduces oxidative stress caused by diabetes.

Taurine is important for fetal development, because the human fetus cannot synthesize taurine, which is provided by the mother via the taurine transporter, and it is necessary for organ development and protects against development of type 2 diabetes. Therefore, taurine is also a survival vitamin. Transport of taurine is required for normal development of numerous fetal tissues in several experimental animals. Taurine functions as an osmolyte; it was shown to be important in that respect in a variety of species, including rodent investigations that are consistent with the above results on humans.

Taurine is well established as an important conditional vitamin for survival functions and for healthy longevity in both humans and experimental animals. I expect that a large class of new conditional vitamins will be discovered. Possible candidates are lipoic acid, ubiquinone, and carnitine.

Ref: Prolonging healthy aging: Longevity vitamins and proteins | PNAS


Taurine: Benefits and risks (medicalnewstoday.com)

TAURINE: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews (webmd.com)