Taurine

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Taurine

Common Names

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

For Patients & Caregivers

How It Works

Taurine may help muscle function and lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Taurine is an amino acid present in many tissues of mammals. It plays an important role in heart, muscle, and nervous system functioning. Taurine is obtained through diet by eating meat, dairy, and seafood products. 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. And even though taurine levels can be increased in the muscles of rodents with oral supplementation, this does not occur in humans. In overweight and obese adults, taurine reduced inflammation and blood fat levels, and improved fat and sugar metabolism. However, it has not improved 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
    Although lab studies suggest benefit, taurine supplementation did not improve insulin response or blood glucose levels in overweight men prone to type 2 diabetes.
  • High blood pressure
    A few studies suggest taurine supplementation may reduce blood pressure in humans.
  • Athletic performance
    Studies on taurine supplementation to improve exercise performance are mixed. Larger studies are needed to confirm this effect.
  • Weight loss
    Taurine supplementation reduced weight in overweight and obese individuals in a few small studies, but larger trials are needed.
  • Neuropathy
    Lab studies suggest that taurine has neuroprotective effects, but 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 lower plasma levels of 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 vitro and in vivo, taurine demonstrated neuroprotective effects (6), reduced diabetic-induced nephropathy (7), and improved glycemic control (8). In animal models, chronic taurine intake reversed muscle dysfunction and atrophy (3) and decreased oxidative stress (4), and maternal taurine ingestion conferred protection against offspring developing adult hypertension (5).

In humans, consumption of taurine-rich foods has been associated with lower cardiovascular risk (9) (10). Evidence on whether taurine can improve exercise performance are mixed (11) (12) (13) (14), and although taurine increased skeletal muscle in rodents, these results have not been duplicated in humans (15) (16).

A few studies in overweight or obese patients suggest taurine may reduce triglycerides and improve lipid metabolism (17), increase adiponectin levels, and decrease inflammation and lipid peroxidation (18). However, long-term supplementation did not affect insulin response or blood glucose levels in patients with type 2 diabetes (19). Other studies suggest potential decreases in blood pressure (20) (43) (44) and benefit in older patients with congestive heart failure (21) (22). It may also help manage muscle cramps in patients with chronic liver disease (45), improve cognitive function in dementia patients (46), and reduce stroke-like episodes in patients with a rare genetic disorder (47). Other preliminary data suggest taurine co-administration reduced chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (23), but more studies are needed.

Taurine has been associated with some adverse effects in animal models including increased infection risk (24), delayed learning and memory (25), and when coadministered with ethanol, drastic reductions in blood glucose resulting in death (26). In humans, adverse reactions have been reported from excessive ingestion of energy drinks with taurine and caffeine, 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 by cysteine sulfinic acid decarboxylase (1). It circulates in free form and is not incorporated into proteins. Taurine binds with cholesterol to form bile acid and protects the liver from alcohol-induced steatosis and lipid peroxidation (29). With respect to skeletal muscle, taurine facilitates Ca2+ dependent excitation–contraction processes, helps regulate cellular volume, and assists in antioxidant defense from stress responses (16). It also serves as a neurotransmitter (35) and crosses the blood-brain barrier by transporters (36). Taurine reduces glutamate excitotoxicity through regulation of calcium ions and mitochondrial energy metabolism (37). Its anti-apoptotic function is due to its inhibition of glutamate-induced membrane depolarization (38).

In animal models, taurine reduced hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia by improving insulin sensitivity and leptin modulation (8). It also protected mitochondria of pancreatic islets from malnourishment damage (30). Renoprotective effects were attributed to decreases in proinflammatory cytokines and renal oxidative stress (31). It also inhibited glucose-induced apoptosis in vascular endothelial cells (32), and advanced glycation end products and fibrotic activity to prevent diabetic nephropathy (7).

In humans, taurine protected against atherosclerotic disease by reversing endothelial abnormalities (33), and reduced blood pressure by decreasing the levels of plasma epinephrine (20). It also upregulated hydrogen sulfide-synthesizing enzyme expression and reduced vascular reactivity via inhibition of transient receptor potential channel subtype 3-mediated calcium influx (43).

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).

Herb-Drug Interactions
  • Antihypertensives: In a study of young patients with borderline hypertension, taurine supplementation reduced blood pressure (20). Therefore it may also potentiate the hypotensive effects of these drugs.
Dosage (OneMSK Only)
References
  1. Wu JY. Purification and characterization of cysteic acid and cysteine sulfinic acid decarboxylase and L-glutamate decarboxylase from bovine brain. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Jul 1982;79(14):4270-4274.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Scabora JE, de Lima MC, Lopes A, et al. Impact of taurine supplementation on blood pressure in gestational protein-restricted offspring: Effect on the medial solitary tract nucleus cell numbers, angiotensin receptors, and renal sodium handling. J Renin Angiotensin Aldosterone Syst.  2015 Mar;16(1):47-58.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Kim KS, Oh da H, Kim JY, et al. Taurine ameliorates hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia by reducing insulin resistance and leptin level in Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima fatty (OLETF) rats with long-term diabetes. Exp Mol Med. Nov 30 2012;44(11):665-673.
  9. Yamori Y, Taguchi T, Mori H, et al. Low cardiovascular risks in the middle aged males and females excreting greater 24-hour urinary taurine and magnesium in 41 WHO-CARDIAC study populations in the world. J Biomed Sci. 2010;17 Suppl 1:S21.
  10. Liu L, Liu L, Ding Y, et al. Ethnic and environmental differences in various markers of dietary intake and blood pressure among Chinese Han and three other minority peoples of China: results from the WHO Cardiovascular Diseases and Alimentary Comparison (CARDIAC) Study. Hypertens Res. May 2001;24(3):315-322.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Spriet LL, Whitfield J. Taurine and skeletal muscle function. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. Jan 2015;18(1):96-101.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.
  25. 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.
  26. Taranukhin AG, Saransaari P, Oja SS. Lethality of taurine and alcohol coadministration in mice. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;776:29-38.
  27. Schoffl I, Kothmann JF, Schoffl V, et al. “Vodka energy”: too much for the adolescent nephron? Pediatrics. Jul 2011;128(1):e227-231.
  28. 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.
  29. Kerai MD, Waterfield CJ, Kenyon SH, et al. Taurine: protective properties against ethanol-induced hepatic steatosis and lipid peroxidation during chronic ethanol consumption in rats. Amino Acids. 1998;15(1-2):53-76.
  30. 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.
  31. 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.
  32. 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.
  33. 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.
  34. 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.
  35. Kumari N, Prentice H, Wu JY. Taurine and its neuroprotective role. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;775:19-27.
  36. 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.
  37. El Idrissi A, Trenkner E. Growth factors and taurine protect against excitotoxicity by stabilizing calcium homeostasis and energy metabolism. J Neurosci. Nov 1 1999;19(21):9459-9468.
  38. 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.
  39. Tappaz ML. Taurine biosynthetic enzymes and taurine transporter: molecular identification and regulations. Neurochem Res. Jan 2004;29(1):83-96.
  40. 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.
  41. Ghandforoush-Sattari M, Mashayekhi S, Krishna CV, et al. Pharmacokinetics of oral taurine in healthy volunteers. J Amino Acids. 2010;2010:346237.
  42. 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.
  43. Sun Q, Wang B, Li Y, et al. Taurine supplementation lowers blood pressure and improves vascular function in prehypertension: Randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Hypertension. Mar 2016;67(3):541-549.
  44. Waldron M, Patterson SD, Tallent J, et al. The Effects of Oral Taurine on Resting Blood Pressure in Humans: a Meta-Analysis. Curr Hypertens Rep. Jul 13 2018;20(9):81.
  45. Vidot H, Cvejic E, Carey S, et al. Randomised clinical trial: oral taurine supplementation versus placebo reduces muscle cramps in patients with chronic liver disease. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. Oct 2018;48(7):704-712.
  46. Bae MA, Gao R, Cha W, et al. The Development of Taurine Supplementary Menus for the Prevention of Dementia and Their Positive Effect on the Cognitive Function in the Elderly with Dementia. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2019;1155:335-347.
  47. Ohsawa Y, Hagiwara H, Nishimatsu SI, et al. Taurine supplementation for prevention of stroke-like episodes in MELAS: a multicentre, open-label, 52-week phase III trial. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. May 2019;90(5):529-536.
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