Functions Of Taurine

  • Bile Acid Conjugation and Cholesterol Excretion.

  • The liver forms a 2-4 gram bile acid per day, with the terminal ileum serving as the main absorption site for the enterohepatic recycling of approximately 80 percent of these acids. Bile acids which have emulsifying effect on fats are produced in liver and are stored in gall bladder. These secretions are poured in small intestine where they combine with fatty substances in food enhancing their digestion and absorption. For these bile acids to be solubilized at physiological pH, it is essential they may be conjugated through peptide linkages with either glycine or taurine; these amino acid conjugates are referred to as bile salts.

  • Taurine is incorporated into one of the most abundant bile acids, chenodeoxychloic acid. Studies h ave shown that taurine deficiency results in reduced bile acid secretion, reduced fat absorption and reduced liver function, all of which can be reversed by supplementing the diet with taurine.

  • Taurine conjugation of bile acids has a significant effect on the solubility of cholesterol, increasing its excretion, and administration of taurine has been shown to reduce serum cholesterol levels in human subjects. In a single-blind, placebo-controlled study, 22 healthy male volunteers, aged 18-29 years, were randomly placed in one of two groups and fed a high fat/high cholesterol diet, designed to raise serum cholesterol levels, for three weeks. The experimental group received 6 grams of taurine daily. At the end of the test period, the control group had significantly higher total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol levels than the group receiving taurine.10

Brain Functions :-

  • Taurine in brain functions as a neuroinhibitory transmitter. Thus it reduces excitatory signals in brain and thus calms excited patients. This action is useful in patients with anxiety, hyperactivity, poor brain function and epilepsy. These symptoms are also observed in patients on alcohol withdrawal.

Eye Health :-

  • Taurine, together with zinc is also required for proper eye health and vision.

  • Taurine is an important antioxidant in the body, and especially high amounts are found in the retina of the eye.

Muscle Health :-

  • L-Taurine is present in high amounts in muscles. Its concentration increases muscle strength and exercise capacity hence it is used by athletes to improve muscular performance. It is also a part of energy drinks.

Cellular Integrity :-

  • Taurine is important for transport of ions like potassium, calcium and sodium across cell membranes which are important in cells with high activity like brain, heart and liver cells. Thus taurine deficiency may affect the functions of these vital organs.

Detoxifying Effects :-

  • Taurine directly combines with toxic molecules and removes them from blood circulation. Thus it helps in blood purification that protects other organs from damages.

  • Exposure to bacterial endotoxins has been suggested as one factor which can augment the magnitude of individual responses to xenobiotics. Circulating endotoxins of intestinal origin have been found to create a positive feedback on endotoxin translocation from the gut, stimulating increases in serum endotoxin levels. In experimental animals, taurine was found to significantly inhibit intestinal translocation and to protect the animals from endotoxemic injury. Therefore, it is possible taurine might be able to modify factors underlying susceptibility to toxic chemicals.10

Antioxidant Action :-

  • Taurine is a potent antioxidant and prevents tissue injury as a result of antioxidation.

  • Antioxidants combine with free radicals and toxic oxidant molecules produced during metabolic reactions (Reactive Oxygen Species or ROS) and destroys them. This property protects cells and tissues from toxic effects of free radicals. Body manufactures certain enzymes like superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and catalase which have antioxidant actions.

  • Taurine in inflammatory liver cells has cytoprotective action (cyto cells). Taurine increases the activities of antioxidant enzymes like superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase and catalase. Taurine reduces Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) levels by increasing the levels of the antioxidant enzymes.11

Taurine In Cardiovascular Health :-

  • Taurine comprises over 50 percent of the total free amino acid pool of the heart. It has a positive inotropic action on cardiac tissue and has been shown in some studies to lower blood pressure. In part, the cardiac effects of taurine are probably due to its ability to protect the heart from the adverse effects of either excessive or inadequate calcium ion (Ca2+) levels.10

  • Taurine improves fat metabolism in the body and prevents high blood cholesterol. Higher blood cholesterol is a starting factor for various organ disorders like heart and blood vessels, brain, liver and kidney. Increased cholesterol is prone for free radical oxidation by hydrogen peroxide free radicals (lipid peroxidation) and gets deposited and solidified in these organ cells and walls replacing normal structures.

  • Fat deposition in blood vessels reduces size of blood vessels and reduces blood supply to the organ. Reduced blood supply as known as ischemia. Ischemia in heart muscles causes pain (angina) and heart attacks (myocardial infarction) whereas in brain it causes stroke.

  • Taurine has also been shown to prevent the development of atherosclerosis in animals with elevated cholesterol levels.

  • In Japan, taurine is used to treat hypertension and ischemic heart diseases.

  • Taurine, a sulfur-containing amino acid, has been reported to have antihypertensive and sympatholytic activity. Nineteen patients with borderline hypertension were supplemented with 6 g taurine daily for seven days in a double- blind, placebo-controlled study.

  • Systolic BP in the 10 taurine-treated patients decreased an average of 9 mm Hg compared with a 2 mm Hg decrease in the nine patients treated with placebo; diastolic BP in the taurine-treated patients decreased an average of 4 mm Hg compared with 1 mm Hg in the placebo-treated subjects. Taurine supplementation resulted in a significant decrease in plasma epinephrine but not norepinephrine levels. Individuals with hypertension tend to have higher epinephrine compared to people with normal blood pressure. Research shows taurine relaxes blood vessels by enhancing endorphin production, resulting in lowered blood pressure. 12

Taurine In Diabetes13 :-

  • Taurine protects pancreatic beta cells from harmful effects of free radicals.

  • Insulin is a hormone manufactured in the pancreatic beta cells and regulates glucose metabolism in the body. Thus taurine supplementation improves glucose metabolism in diabetics.

  • Both plasma and platelet taurine levels have been found to be depressed in insulin dependent diabetic patients; however, these levels were raised to normal with oral taurine supplementation. In addition, the amount of arachidonic acid needed to induce platelet aggregation was lower in these patients than in healthy subjects. Taurine supplementation reversed this effect as well, reducing platelet aggregation. In vitro experiments demonstrated that taurine reduced platelet aggregation in diabetic patients in a dose-dependent manner, while having no effect on the aggregation of platelets from healthy subjects.10

  • Taurine also protects kidneys which are more prone to damages in diabetics. Taurine reduces blood concentrations of toxic or harmful substances (like blood urea nitrogen concentrations and albumin) and also provides antioxidant protection.