Common Names

  • 2-Aminoethanesulfonic acid
  • L-taurine
  • Tauric acid

For Patients & Caregivers

How It Works

Taurine has been shown to help muscle function and may lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Taurine is an amino acid present in many tissues of mammals that plays an important role in heart, muscle, and nervous system functioning. Taurine is obtained through diet by eating meat, dairy, and seafood products, and it can also be made in the body from the amino acid cysteine. Eating foods rich in taurine may lower cardiovascular risk.

In animal studies, taurine reduced muscle dysfunction and wasting from disuse, imbalances that prevent the natural detoxification processes, and nerve pain. In humans, taking taurine supplements before exercise reduced muscle damage after high-intensity exercise, but its effect on physical or mental performance has been mixed. It has also been shown that even though taurine levels can be increased in the muscles of rodents through oral supplementation, this does not occur in humans. In overweight and obese adults, taurine reduced inflammation and fat levels in the blood and improved fat and sugar metabolism. However, this has not translated into improvements in blood sugar or insulin response in Type 2 diabetes.

Taurine is marketed as a dietary supplement and is also a major ingredient in many energy drinks. There have been some toxic effects noted in animal studies and in humans when taken in excess amounts or with alcohol.

Purported Uses
  • Diabetes
    Taurine reduced kidney disease caused by diabetes and improved blood sugar levels in lab studies. However, long-term taurine supplementation did not affect insulin response or blood glucose levels in overweight men prone to Type II diabetes.
  • High blood pressure
    Oral supplementation of taurine was shown to reduce blood pressure in humans.
  • Athletic performance
    Taurine supplementation helped improve exercise performance in some studies, but not in others. Additional, larger studies are needed to confirm this effect.
  • Weight loss
    In two small studies, taurine supplementation was shown to reduce weight in healthy overweight and obese individuals, but larger trials are needed.
  • Neuropathy
    Studies done in lab and in animal models indicate that taurine has neuroprotective effects. Human trials have yet to be conducted.
Patient Warnings

Excessive taurine intake combined with alcohol and/or caffeine has caused severe adverse effects, including death.

Do Not Take If
  • You are taking antihypertensive medications: Taurine may increase the blood-pressure lowering effects of these drugs.

Side Effects

Case reports
In these reports, taurine was identified as a major ingredient of energy drinks.
Acute kidney failure: In a 17-year-old boy who ingested large quantities of both alcohol and an energy drink containing taurine and caffeine.
High pulse rate and death: In a 28-year-old-man after drinking 3 cans of an energy drink containing caffeine and taurine among other ingredients.

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For Healthcare Professionals

Scientific Name
2-aminoethanesulfonic acid
Clinical Summary

Taurine is a free amino sulfonic acid present in many tissues of mammals. In the bile, it conjugates with cholesterol to form soluble acids to facilitate excretion. Taurine also plays an important role in the functioning of cardiovascular, skeletal muscle, and nervous systems. Meat, seafood, and dairy products are rich sources, but it can also be synthesized in the body from cysteine (1). Vegetarians may have a lower level of plasma taurine due to reduced intake of meats (2). Taurine is marketed as a dietary supplement and is also a major ingredient in many energy drinks.

In animal models, chronic taurine intake reversed muscle dysfunction and atrophy (3) and decreased oxidative stress (4). Another study showed that maternal taurine ingestion confers a protective effect against developing adult hypertension in the offspring (5). Taurine also demonstrated neuroprotective effects, (6) reduced diabetic-induced nephropathy (7), and improved glycemic control (8) in vitro and in vivo.

In humans, consumption of foods rich in taurine has been associated with lower cardiovascular risk (9) (10). Ingestion of taurine before exercise improved performance (11), and a taurine supplement plus branched-chain amino acids reduced muscle damage following high-intensity exercise (12). However, other studies with energy shots that contained taurine have not found improvements in physical or cognitive performance (13) (14). Although oral taurine supplementation can increase skeletal muscle of rodents, these results have not been duplicated in humans (15) (16).

In overweight adults, taurine helped to reduce triglycerides and improve lipid metabolism (17). Another study found that taurine supplementation and nutritional counseling increased adiponectin levels and decreased inflammation and lipid peroxidation in obese women (18). However, long-term supplementation did not affect insulin response or blood glucose levels in overweight men prone to Type 2 diabetes (19). In prehypertensive patients, taurine significantly decreased blood pressure and improved vascular function (43). Other small studies suggest taurine supplementation may reduce blood pressure in young borderline hypertensive patients (20) and benefit older patients with congestive heart failure (21) (22).

Co-administration with taurine reduced chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting during maintenance therapy in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (23).

Taurine has been associated with some adverse effects in animal models including increases in infection risk (24), delayed learning and memory (25) and when coadministered with ethanol, a drastic reduction in blood glucose resulting in death (26). In humans, some case studies have reported adverse reactions from the excessive ingestion of energy drinks with taurine and caffeine as major ingredients, and in combination with alcohol (27) .

Food Sources

Meat and seafood, especially dark meat poultry and shellfish; dairy products (28)

Purported Uses
  • Athletic performance
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Neuropathy
  • Weight loss
Mechanism of Action

Taurine can be synthesized in the body from cysteine by cysteine sulfinic acid decarboxylase (1). It circulates in the body in the free form and is not incorporated into proteins. With respect to skeletal muscle, taurine facilitates Ca2+ dependent excitation–contraction processes, contributes to regulation of cellular volume, and assists in providing antioxidant defenses from stress responses (16). Taurine binds with cholesterol to form bile acid and protects the liver from alcohol-induced steatosis and lipid peroxidation (29). In animal models of diabetes, it reduced hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia by improving insulin sensitivity and leptin modulation (8). It also protected the mitochondria of pancreatic islets from malnourishment damage (30).

In other studies, taurine showed renoprotective effects by decreasing proinflammatory cytokines and renal oxidative stress (31), and by inhibiting glucose-induced apoptosis in vascular endothelial cells (32). Potential prevention of diabetic nephropathy is associated with the inhibition of advanced glycation end products and exerted anti-fibrotic activity (7).

Taurine was shown to protect against atherosclerotic disease by reversing endothelial abnormalities (33). Oral taurine supplementation reduces blood pressure by decreasing the levels of plasma epinephrine (20) and inhibits ischemia-induced apoptosis in the heart muscle by activating protein kinase Akt activities and suppressing caspase-9 (34). It upregulates hydrogen sulfide-synthesizing enzyme expression and reduces vascular reactivity via inhibition of transient receptor potential channel subtype 3-mediated calcium influx (43). Taurine also serves as a neurotransmitter (35) and crosses the blood-brain barrier by transporters (36). It reduces glutamate excitotoxicity through regulation of calcium ions and mitochondrial energy metabolism (37). The anti-apoptotic function of taurine is due to its inhibition of glutamate-induced membrane depolarization (38).

Adverse Reactions

Case reports  In these reports, taurine was identified as a major component of energy drinks.

Acute renal failure: In a 17-year-old boy following consumption of 3 L of an energy drink in combination with 1 L of vodka, which amounted to 4600 mg of taurine and 780 mg of caffeine mixed with 380 g of alcohol (27).

Ventricular tachycardia and death: A 28-year-old-man suffered ventricular tachycardia and died after drinking 3 250-mL cans of an energy drink containing caffeine and taurine among other ingredients (42).

Taurine administered with ethanol (animal study): Caused a drastic reduction in blood glucose, resulting in death (26).

Herb-Drug Interactions
  • Antihypertensive medications: Taurine may potentiate the hypotensive effects of these drugs (20).
Dosage (OneMSK Only)
  1. Laidlaw SA, Shultz TD, Cecchino JT, et al. Plasma and urine taurine levels in vegans. Am J Clin Nutr. Apr 1988;47(4):660-663.

  2. Pierno S, Liantonio A, Camerino GM, et al. Potential benefits of taurine in the prevention of skeletal muscle impairment induced by disuse in the hindlimb-unloaded rat. Amino Acids. Jul 2012;43(1):431-445. doi: 10.1007/s00726-011-1099-4

  3. Silva LA, Silveira PC, Ronsani MM, et al. Taurine supplementation decreases oxidative stress in skeletal muscle after eccentric exercise. Cell Biochem Funct. Jan-Feb 2011;29(1):43-49. doi: 10.1002/cbf.1716

  4. Junyent F, Utrera J, Romero R, et al. Prevention of epilepsy by taurine treatments in mice experimental model. J Neurosci Res. May 1 2009;87(6):1500-1508. doi: 10.1002/jnr.21950

  5. Huang JS, Chuang LY, Guh JY, et al. Effect of taurine on advanced glycation end products-induced hypertrophy in renal tubular epithelial cells. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. Dec 1 2008;233(2):220-226. doi: 10.1016/j.taap.2008.09.002

  6. Balshaw TG, Bampouras TM, Barry TJ, et al. The effect of acute taurine ingestion on 3-km running performance in trained middle-distance runners. Amino Acids. Feb 2013;44(2):555-561. doi: 10.1007/s00726-012-1372-1

  7. Ra SG, Miyazaki T, Ishikura K, et al. Additional effects of taurine on the benefits of BCAA intake for the delayed-onset muscle soreness and muscle damage induced by high-intensity eccentric exercise. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;776:179-187. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-6093-0_18

  8. Seifert JG, Connor DA. The influence of commercial energy shots on response time and power output in recreational cyclists. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014;11(1):56. doi: 10.1186/s12970-014-0056-5

  9. Kammerer M, Jaramillo JA, Garcia A, et al. Effects of energy drink major bioactive compounds on the performance of young adults in fitness and cognitive tests: a randomized controlled trial. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2014;11(1):44. doi: 10.1186/s12970-014-0044-9

  10. Galloway SD, Talanian JL, Shoveller AK, et al. Seven days of oral taurine supplementation does not increase muscle taurine content or alter substrate metabolism during prolonged exercise in humans. J Appl Physiol (1985). Aug 2008;105(2):643-651. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.90525.2008

  11. Spriet LL, Whitfield J. Taurine and skeletal muscle function. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. Jan 2015;18(1):96-101. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000135

  12. Zhang M, Bi LF, Fang JH, et al. Beneficial effects of taurine on serum lipids in overweight or obese non-diabetic subjects. Amino Acids. Jun 2004;26(3):267-271. doi: 10.1007/s00726-003-0059-z

  13. Rosa FT, Freitas EC, Deminice R, et al. Oxidative stress and inflammation in obesity after taurine supplementation: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Eur J Nutr. Apr 2014;53(3):823-830. doi: 10.1007/s00394-013-0586-7

  14. Brons C, Spohr C, Storgaard H, et al. Effect of taurine treatment on insulin secretion and action, and on serum lipid levels in overweight men with a genetic predisposition for type II diabetes mellitus. Eur J Clin Nutr. Sep 2004;58(9):1239-1247. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601955

  15. Fujita T, Ando K, Noda H, et al. Effects of increased adrenomedullary activity and taurine in young patients with borderline hypertension. Circulation. Mar 1987;75(3):525-532.

  16. Azuma J, Sawamura A, Awata N. Usefulness of taurine in chronic congestive heart failure and its prospective application. Jpn Circ J. Jan 1992;56(1):95-99.

  17. Azuma J, Sawamura A, Awata N, et al. Therapeutic effect of taurine in congestive heart failure: a double-blind crossover trial. Clin Cardiol. May 1985;8(5):276-282.

  18. Islambulchilar M, Asvadi I, Sanaat Z, et al. Taurine attenuates chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Amino Acids. Jan 2015;47(1):101-109. doi: 10.1007/s00726-014-1840-x

  19. Condron C, Casey RG, Kehoe S, et al. Taurine modulates neutrophil function but potentiates uropathogenic E. coli infection in the murine bladder. Urol Res. Aug 2010;38(4):215-222. doi: 10.1007/s00240-009-0235-z

  20. Ito K, Arko M, Kawaguchi T, et al. Intracerebroventricular administration of taurine impairs learning and memory in rats. Nutr Neurosci. Mar 2012;15(2):70-77. doi: 10.1179/1476830511Y.0000000036

  21. Taranukhin AG, Saransaari P, Oja SS. Lethality of taurine and alcohol coadministration in mice. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;776:29-38. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-6093-0_4

  22. Schoffl I, Kothmann JF, Schoffl V, et al. “Vodka energy”: too much for the adolescent nephron? Pediatrics. Jul 2011;128(1):e227-231. doi: 10.1542/peds.2010-2677

  23. Wojcik OP, Koenig KL, Zeleniuch-Jacquotte A, et al. The potential protective effects of taurine on coronary heart disease. Atherosclerosis. Jan 2010;208(1):19-25. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2009.06.002

  24. Lee YY, Lee HJ, Lee SS, et al. Taurine supplementation restored the changes in pancreatic islet mitochondria in the fetal protein-malnourished rat. Br J Nutr. Oct 2011;106(8):1198-1206. doi: 10.1017/S0007114511001632

  25. Das J, Sil PC. Taurine ameliorates alloxan-induced diabetic renal injury, oxidative stress-related signaling pathways and apoptosis in rats. Amino Acids. Oct 2012;43(4):1509-1523. doi: 10.1007/s00726-012-1225-y

  26. Wu QD, Wang JH, Fennessy F, et al. Taurine prevents high-glucose-induced human vascular endothelial cell apoptosis. Am J Physiol. Dec 1999;277(6 Pt 1):C1229-1238.

  27. Moloney MA, Casey RG, O’Donnell DH, et al. Two weeks taurine supplementation reverses endothelial dysfunction in young male type 1 diabetics. Diab Vasc Dis Res. Oct 2010;7(4):300-310. doi: 10.1177/1479164110375971

  28. Takatani T, Takahashi K, Uozumi Y, et al. Taurine prevents the ischemia-induced apoptosis in cultured neonatal rat cardiomyocytes through Akt/caspase-9 pathway. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. Apr 2 2004;316(2):484-489. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2004.02.066

  29. Kumari N, Prentice H, Wu JY. Taurine and its neuroprotective role. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;775:19-27. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-6130-2_2

  30. Kang YS, Ohtsuki S, Takanaga H, et al. Regulation of taurine transport at the blood-brain barrier by tumor necrosis factor-alpha, taurine and hypertonicity. J Neurochem. Dec 2002;83(5):1188-1195.

  31. Leon R, Wu H, Jin Y, et al. Protective function of taurine in glutamate-induced apoptosis in cultured neurons. J Neurosci Res. Apr 2009;87(5):1185-1194. doi: 10.1002/jnr.21926

  32. Abebe W, Mozaffari MS. Role of taurine in the vasculature: an overview of experimental and human studies. Am J Cardiovasc Dis. 2011;1(3):293-311.

  33. Ghandforoush-Sattari M, Mashayekhi S, Krishna CV, et al. Pharmacokinetics of oral taurine in healthy volunteers. J Amino Acids. 2010;2010:346237. doi: 10.4061/2010/346237

  34. Avci S, Sarikaya R, Buyukcam F. Death of a young man after overuse of energy drink. Am J Emerg Med. Nov 2013;31(11):1624 e1623-1624. doi: 10.1016/j.ajem.2013.06.031

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