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Taurine’s Benefits For Heart Health And More

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Taurine: Research Review

First, what is taurine, beyond being an ingredient in many energy drinks?

It’s an amino acid that many animals, including humans, can synthesize in our bodies. Some other animals—including obligate carnivores such as cats (but not dogs, who are omnivorous by nature) cannot synthesize taurine and must get it from food.

So, as humans are very versatile omnivorous frugivores by nature, we have choices:

  • Synthesize it—no need for any conscious action; it’ll just happen
  • Eat it—by eating meat, which contains taurine
  • Supplement it—by taking supplements, including energy drinks, which generally (but not always) use a bioidentical lab-made taurine. Basically, lab-made taurine is chemically identical to the kind found in meat, it’s just cheaper and doesn’t involve animals as a middleman.

What does it do?

Taurine does a bunch of essential things, including:

  • Maintaining hydration/electrolyte balance in cells
  • Regulating calcium/magnesium balance in cells
  • Forming bile salts, which are needed for digestion
  • Supporting the integrity of the central nervous system
  • Regulating the immune system and antioxidative processes

Thus, a shortage of taurine can lead to such issues as kidney problems, eye tissue damage (since the eyes are a particularly delicate part of the CNS), and cardiomyopathy.

If you want to read more, here’s an academic literature review:

Taurine: A “very essential” amino acid

On the topic of eye health, a 2014 study found that taurine is the most plentiful amino acid in the eye, and helps protect against retinal degeneration, in which they say:

❝We here review the evidence for a role of taurine in retinal ganglion cell survival and studies suggesting that this compound may be involved in the pathophysiology of glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy. Along with other antioxidant molecules, taurine should therefore be seriously reconsidered as a potential treatment for such retinal diseases❞

Read more: Taurine: the comeback of a neutraceutical in the prevention of retinal degenerations

Taurine for muscles… In more than sports!

We’d be remiss not to mention that taurine is enjoyed by athletes to enhance athletic performance; indeed, it’s one of its main selling-points:

See: Taurine in sports and exercise

But! It’s also useful for simply maintaining skeleto-muscular health in general, and especially in the context of age-related decline and chronic disease:

Taurine: the appeal of a safe amino acid for skeletal muscle disorders

On the topic of safety… How safe is it?

There’s an interesting answer to that question. Within safe dose ranges (we’ll get to that), taurine is not only relatively safe, but also, studies that looked to explore its risks found new benefits in the process. Specifically of interest to us were that it appears to promote better long-term memory, especially as we get older (as taurine levels in the brain decline with age):

Taurine, Caffeine, and Energy Drinks: Reviewing the Risks to the Adolescent Brain

^Notwithstanding the title, we assure you, the research got there; they said:

❝Interestingly, the levels of taurine in the brain decreased significantly with age, which led to numerous studies investigating the potential neuroprotective effects of supplemental taurine in several different experimental models❞

What experimental models were those? These ones:

…which were all animal studies, however.

The same systematic review also noted that not only was more research needed on humans, but also, existing studies have had a strong bias to male physiology (in both human and assorted other animal studies), so more diverse study is needed too.

What are the safe dose ranges?

Before we get to toxicity, let’s look at some therapeutic doses. In particular, some studies that found that 500mg 3x daily, i.e. 1.5g total daily, had benefits for heart health:

Bottom line on safety: 3g/day has been found to be safe:

Click here to see the findings of the risk assessment published in the Journal of Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology

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