Taurine is a non-essential/conditionally essential amino acid which acts as a cell membrane stabilizer in the body and can aid various antioxidant defence systems. It is found in foods, in the highest amounts in meats and seafood. It is seen as a constituent of many sports drinks. It does not participate in protein synthesis.
Some scientifically researched benefits are as follows:
- Cardiovascular health: It acts as both a cell-protecting agent by modulating the cell membranes fluidity and health, as well as exerting anti-oxidant like effects. Taurine reduces oxidative stress on cardiac muscle tissue. It appears to be able to activate angiogenesis process (formation of new blood vessels). Studies show benefits in patients with congestive heart failure.
- Diabetes: Taurine may hold promise in treating insulin resistance by modifying the effects of insulin signalling. It can aid in relieving joint pain caused by changes in collagen seen in diabetic patients. It also seems to have a beneficial effect on delaying retinopathy.
- Sports performance: Fat oxidation during low-intensity activity has been noted with a dose of 1,600mg taurine supplementation in trained cyclists. It can improve muscle function by increasing calcium ions release and thereby enhances force production.
- Kidneys/Lungs/Liver: Similar to the heart, studies show that taurine supplementation can protect against toxin-induced free radical damage in these organs.
- Nervous system: It seems to have anxiolytic (anxiety-relieving) and antidepressant properties. It is known to maintain cell water balance (osmoregulation) in the brain.
The observed safety limit, the highest dose for which one can be relatively assured that no side effects will occur over a lifetime, has been suggested to be 3g of taurine in supplemental form (in addition to food intake) a day.
~ Shwetha Bhatia, Registered Dietitian, Mind Your Fitness!