“Taurine” What You’ve Been Missing

Taurine is an amino acid found in eggs, meat and fish. Your body can produce taurine from the amino acids methione and  cysteine but not in sufficient quantities, and we have to rely on  our intake of meat and fish proteins in our diets. Taurine levels drop as we age and researchers have noticed that societies which maintain the highest level of taurine live the longest.

In fact, taurine benefits so many systems of our bodies that scientists have called it ” a wonder molecule.”  

The list of taurine benefits keeps growing, and here are a few that I will discuss in this blog.
Promotes longevity, prevents obesity, improves insulin sensitivity, controls and treats diabetes, reverses cardiovascular disease, prevents age related vision loss and retinal damage, reduces epileptic seizures, prevents and treats liver disease, reverses tinnitus (ringing in the ears), reduces and treats anxiety, raises testosterone levels, fights oxidative stress, faster recovery and better performance in athletic training, improves brain speed and cognitive function, stimulates growth of new brain cells.

After reading this list of benefits it becomes clear why people who maintain the highest levels of taurine enjoy the longest lifespan. Lets look at each one of the above in more depth.

Promotes Longevity: Scientists studying longevity noticed that cultures whose diets are rich in seafood also have longer life spans and fewer diseases. There are many factors influencing life expectancy and taurine is a major one. People who maintain high levels of taurine stay healthier than those with low levels. Our bodies can produce taurine but not in enough quantity. We must rely on diet and or supplementation. To complicate matters, our levels naturally decline with age and many disease process accelerate the decline. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease etc. reduces our taurine levels.
Prevents Obesity: Taurine helps the body burn fat more efficiently. This in turn gives us more energy and helps maintain a lean body. Taurine targets the abdominal fat, and abdominal fat is where most of our inflammation is generated. Systemic inflammation is present in all disease processes including cancer. Studies have shown that taurine reduces triglyceride levels as well as LDL and VLDL. It also reduces the risk for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). In animal studies it was noted that obesity reduced taurine level creating a vicious cycle. But, supplementation with taurine interrupted this cycle.
Improves Insulin Sensitivity: Taurine is well known for improving the insulin sensitivity of cells. This improves the action of insulin causing an increased uptake of glucose into the cells for energy production. Taurine also has an effect on the hypothalamus minimizing the hunger feelings which helps stall weight gain. Diabetic patients have lower serum taurine levels than healthy people.
Controls and Treats Diabetes:  Fortunately, human studies have shown that supplementing with just 1,500 mg of taurine a day can restore taurine levels to those in healthy control subjects. This helps control diabetes by reducing blood glucose and restoring insulin sensitivity. Diabetic complication can be reversed such as arterial stiffness, cardiovascular disease, and heart muscle damage. Taurine supports nerve fiber integrity, potentially slowing or reversing painful diabetic neuropathy. And in the retina, another target of destructive elevated blood glucose, taurine fights glucose-induced oxidant stress and preserves the health of light-sensing cells in diabetic retinopathy. Kidney damage, another consequence of diabetes, can be minimized with taurine supplementation in diabetic animals.
Reverses Cardiovascular Disease: One consequence of aging can be heart failure, a decreased ability of the heart to pump out all of the blood that flows into it. Research has shown that in humans taurine enhances the contractile strength of heart muscle and is believed to help prevent heart failure. In a 1984 animal study, taurine protected against heart failure, reducing mortality by 80 percent in the taurine-treated group with no diminishment of cardiac function.  In a later animal study in 1988, taurine was shown to lower blood pressure. In animal models of hypertension, taurine supplementation lowers blood pressure by reducing the resistance to blood flow in the blood vessel walls and by minimizing nerve impulses in the brain that drive blood pressure up.
Prevents Age Related Vision Loss and Retinal Damage: There are many reasons for age-related vision loss, but near the top is oxidative damage on the rod and cones in the retina. This damage leads to age-related macular degeneration. Interestingly taurine is found in high concentration in the retina, and declines significantly with age. Remember that diabetics have low levels of taurine are prone to macular degeneration. Taurine is a strong antioxidant preventing oxidative damage and restore deficient levels of nerve growth factor helping to ameliorate diabetic retinopathy.
Reduces Epileptic Seizures:While there are many types and many causes of epilepsy (seizures), a disruption in the function of excitable brain tissue underlies all of them. One of taurine’s major roles is the regulation of such excitable tissues, making taurine of natural interest to scientists and clinicians who study epilepsy. Taurine appears to work by increasing the production of the neurotransmitter GABA. GABA is our calming neurotransmitter and it helps prevent uncontrolled firing of brain cells.
Prevents and treats Liver Disease: Increasing evidence suggests that taurine may help treat the most common cause of liver disease in the US, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (or NAFLD). Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease occurs when too much fat accumulates in the liver, and it can be caused by insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Over time, the end result is the loss of liver function, leading to liver cirrhosis. Studies show that taurine defends liver cells against free radicals and toxins, helping to reduce the severity of oxidative stress-induced liver injury. This is vitally important in alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases, both of which can progress to cirrhosis and liver failure.
Reverses Tinnitus:Taurine protects the  inner ear cells from damage, normalizing the flow of calcium ions they require for proper function.
Taurine plays a vital role in hearing. In fact, studies have found that in some cases, taurine can reverse the biochemical processes behind hearing loss. Other studies have demonstrated that taurine can almost completely eliminate the ringing in the ears associated with tinnitus. Much of the damage to hearing occurs not in the mechanical parts of the ear, but rather in the nerve cells that convert sound waves into the electrical energy that is perceived in our brains. Like other nerve cells, these so-called “hair cells” depend on the flow of calcium ions into and out of the cell. Taurine helps restore and control normal calcium ion flow in auditory cells.
Reduces and Treats Anxiety: Taurine stimulate the GABA receptors in the thalamus increasing the output of the calming neurotransmitter GABA. Just as with seizures it calms the uncontrolled firing of excitable nerves. Taurine inhibits the anxiety process and relieves the side effects of stress by lowering cortisol levels, the anxious fight or flight mood that comes over us in times of stress.
Raises Testosterone Levels: Taurine’s ability to stop oxidative damage protects our bodies in many ways. Multiple studies reveal that Testosterone is also protected by taurine. Taurine protects testosterone from damage caused by ROS (reactive oxygen species), cadmium, nicotine, arsenic, and doxorubicin.  Furthermore taurine seems to protect testosterone molecules from the destructive effects of diabetes in animal models. Other animal studies showed up to 180% increase in serum testosterone levels, and it increased luteinizing hormone (LH), and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). In human studies the possible mechanism of action why taurine increases testosterone is that it appears to stimulate the production of human chorionic gonadotropin (hcg).
Faster Recovery and Better Performance in Athletic Training: Taurine increases the force of muscle contraction in both skeletal and heart muscles. It helps remove lactic acid which is waste produce of muscle contraction and responsible for the pain, soreness, and fatigue experienced during intense workouts. Strenuous workouts generates oxidative stress and DNA damage. Taurine’s antioxidant abilities protects muscles from such damage. Like other tissues in our bodies with high levels of activity, (eyes, brain, liver) taurine is found to be in high concentrations in our muscles also.
Taurine has shown the ability to lower muscle damage from intense exercise, and improve performance.
Improves Brain Speed and Cognitive Function: Beta Amyloid is a well-known factor in age related cognitive decline such as memory loss, decreased retention, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. In the presence of high levels of glucose or fructose in the brain proteins are at risk of glycation or sugar and proteins sticking together because of oxidation. These glycated proteins in the brain form Beta Amyloid Plaque. It is believed that this plaque is what is causing the brain to decline. This process is also believed to be responsible for other age related diseases such as diabetes, atherosclerosis, osteoarthritis, and cataracts. Recent studies have shown that taurine prevented glycation and the resultant plaquing. Increased levels and efficiency of GABA and glutamate and acted as a protective role against the normal ageing process.
Stimulated Growth of New Brain Cells: Taurine levels decline with age and this may be the underlying cause of age related decline in memory and cognition. Animal studies show that taurine stimulate new brain cell growth in the hippocampus which is responsible for memory. It does this by stimulating stem cells. Stem cells are primordial cells capable of migrating to different areas and becoming the cells in that area increasing the number of cells or replacing damaged cells. In one study neural cells cultured with taurine produced significantly more brain cells. In addition to increased number of cells taurine also stimulated the growth of neurites which connect cells together and allow them to communicate with each other. Taurine can rejuvenate damaged brains cells, increase new cell production, improve memory, and slow down the natural aging process.

I found differences throughout the literature of recommended doses. It ranged from 500mg to 2000mg per day. Based on the amount of research, the safety of this all natural nutrient, and the excitement in the research community I think all of us could benefit from increasing our taurine intake.

http://www.lifeextension.com/magazine/2013/6/The-Forgotten-Longevity-Benefits-of-Taurine/Page-01 http://main.poliquingroup.com/articlesmultimedia/articles/article/782/ten_benefits_of_taurine.aspx

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