What is Taurine?
Taurine (L -Taurine or 2 – aminoethane sulphonic acid) happens to be a sulfur-containing amino acid.
Mammals do have taurine in almost every tissue, but the heart, brain, retina, blood platelets, as well as glands, contain particularly high amounts.
Taurine does play a crucial role in the development as well as protection of cells within mammals.
Taurine does control multiple important biological processes in the body. In this respect, taurine might actually be more easily compared to sodium or calcium ions rather than a drug that does target a specific receptor in one’s bodies.
Humans are also able to produce taurine, but not in sufficient quantities. Therefore, taurine is indeed a conditionally essential amino acid for humans. Some conditions whereby patients can be taurine deficient include premature babies, newborn infants, and chronic liver, heart, and kidney disease patients.
Taurine happens to be an osmolyte. This also does imply it can control water entry and exit in cells and also be able to stop them from changing the cell too much in size. It also interacts with fats in cell membranes and stabilizes them, preventing structural changes to the cell.
Despite the impressive range of positive effects taurine has on the body, its exact mechanisms of action do still remain largely unknown.
How the Body Makes Taurine?
Taurine is rather synthesized within the body from the only two other sulfur-containing amino acids, methionine, as well as cysteine.
Taurine synthesis does usually take place in the liver, with the help of the enzyme cysteine sulfinic acid as well as vitamin B6 (pyridoxine).
Other cells in one’s bodies are indeed able to take up taurine due to the special taurine transporter (TauT) molecule that is rather found on cell membranes.
Taurine is, of course, an essential nutrient for newborn children as they are yet not really able to synthesize or retain taurine within their bodies. Breast milk does contain the full taurine requirement for infants, as do modern-day baby formula.
How the Body Removes Taurine?
Taurine exits the body as part of bile or urine.
The kidneys are also able to increase or even decrease taurine excretion depending on the dietary availability of taurine. High amounts of taurine in one’s urine does indicate high dietary intake.
Taurine transporter molecules in one’s kidneys make use of energy to resorb as well as conserve taurine in one’s body.
Individuals with compromised kidney function or even faulty taurine transporters may in fact not be able to retain sufficient amounts of taurine.
1) Taurine is an Antioxidant
Tissues exposed to oxidative damage do have particularly high concentrations of taurine.
Similar to other antioxidants, taurine, directly and indirectly, does eliminate harmful oxidants to minimize tissue damage.
Through its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, taurine is indeed able to protect one’s bodies from unnecessary cell death as well as tissue damage.
2) Taurine May Reduce Inflammation
The antioxidant action of taurine does produce taurine chloramine (TauCl) as well as bromine (TauBr), which also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Taurine supplementation does enhance the formation of TauCl and TauBr in one’s body and may also be effective in treating inflammatory conditions.
Taurine is indeed very effective in treating acute inflammation (which is caused by infection, irritants, damaged cells, or even cancer). However, its role in the progression of inflammatory diseases (such as arthritis) is not as clear.
Diminished TauCl generation in one’s body may worsen inflammation-related joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis.
3) Taurine Might Help Fight Infections
Taurine’s antimicrobial effects in the body stem from taurine chloramine (TauCl) and taurine bromamine (TauBr) formation.
TauCl and TauBr are indeed able to kill a wide spectrum of bacteria, fungi (yeast and molds), viruses, as well as parasites.
Both TauCl and TauBr are rather treatments for infections such as chronic sinusitis, otitis media (swimmers ear), acne vulgaris, and gum diseases.
TauCl as well as TauBr tend to rapidly break down in one’s bodies and is only effective if rather used topically, not supplemented. However, taurine supplementation can indeed increase the production of these compounds in one’s bodies.
Taurine’s role as an antioxidant is also rather important for the protection of cells in one’s immune system.
4) Taurine May Help Fight Cancer
Taurolidine is a derivative of taurine that does turn into taurine within the body, increases cancer survival rates in animal models.
Taurolidine also blocked the growth of colorectal cancer in rats.
Cancer patients indeed have depleted taurine levels. Surgery as well as chemotherapy do decrease taurine levels even further and may also compound taurine decreases in the cancer patients. It is but obvious that taurine supplementation may indeed be of much benefit to cancer patients.
5) Taurine May Help Treat Diabetes
Antioxidants, such as taurine, are rather low in diabetic individuals. This does increase the risk of oxidative damage.
Diabetes lowers the body’s ability to absorb taurine.
Diabetic complications such as heart, kidney as well as nerve damage can be attributed to high oxidative damage thus resulting from low taurine levels.
The role of Taurine in protecting one’s kidneys from damage in diabetes is well documented in animal models and in human cells.
One and a half grams of taurine daily for about two weeks improves early heart abnormalities in a study (DB-RCT) of nine type 1 diabetic patient.
6) Taurine Protects the Heart
Heart and blood vessels cells do contain the taurine transporter, suggesting that taurine is important for heart function.
The risk of chronic heart disease is rather lower in individuals with a high urinary output of taurine.
Taurine can also prevent abnormal heartbeat.
Taurine supplementation is no doubt effective in treating the hardening as well as narrowing of blood arteries in animals.
7) Taurine Prevents Hypertension
Taurine may also be able to increase the production of endorphins by the brain (hypothalamus). This does calm the fight or flight response of the brain, which is rather overactive during stress and lowers blood pressure.
Low taurine levels are associated with increased blood pressure.
Oral taurine supplementation is potentially a very safe and convenient regimen for the control of high blood pressure.
Consumption of 3g taurine daily for about 2 months in hypertension patients does reduce both systolic as well as diastolic blood pressure.
It also does play a protective role in the heart as well as kidneys in rats with hypertension.