Taurine is a non-essential amino acid, synthesized in the body from methionine and cysteine. It is useful to people who suffer from atherosclerosis, heart disorders, edema, hypertension, and hypoglycemia. Important to the heart muscle, white blood cells, musculoskeletal system, and central nervous system, it has been used in the treatment of breast cancer, anxiety, poor brain function, epilepsy, and Down syndrome children.
Recently Taurine has become popular as a supplemental ingredient. Most of the supplemental uses of taurine are related to cardiovascular or muscle conditions.
Taurine tends to be well absorbed and tissue levels can go up rapidly after oral administration.
Taurine has been shown to promote sarcolemma Ca-ATPase activity, as well as Na/Ca cotransport enzyme which helps to remove calcium from the interior of the cell and facilitates the relaxation of the heart muscle during diastole. Taurine is also able to reduce the calcium-triggered response of blood platelets to various activating factors, and to suppress sympathetic nervous system activity while also reducing the responsiveness of vascular smooth muscle cells to vasoconstricting agents.
Taurine has been considered effective therapy for congestive heart failure. In heart muscle, taurine is essential for proper calcium balance and metabolism. Taurine specifically supports heart function with its antioxidant action, by preventing arrhythmias, reducing hypertension, reducing platelet stickiness and by improving cardiac contractility.
There is no current US RDA for the intake of taurine.
Taurine has been found to be particularly concentrated in the heart with its levels exceeding the combined total of all other amino acids. During active stress the levels of taurine go up in the heart. Levels go down after an MI or ischemic attack. In Japan, taurine is used to treat various types of heart disease. Some arrhythmias may require IV administration.
Taurine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, its main use being to help treat epilepsy and other excitable brain states. Research shows low taurine levels at seizure sites and its anti-convulsant effect comes from its ability to stabilize nerve cell membranes, which in turn prevents the erratic firing of nerve cells. Taurine functions as a mild sedative; doses for this effect are 500mg three times daily.