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What is Taurine

What is Taurine - Sources, Benefits, Side Effects and More

Taurine is a naturally occurring sulfur-containing amino acid. It has no function in the synthesis of proteins, even though amino acids are frequently referred to as the building blocks of proteins. Instead, it is classified as a conditionally essential amino acid, meaning that it becomes essential only under the conditions of stress and sickness.

However, babies cannot produce taurine as adults can; hence, neonates and infants must rely on taurine from breast milk or formulas that contain taurine, as it is considered an essential amino acid for them.

The body uses taurine for a variety of roles and motives. It manages the activity of certain neurotransmitters and regulates the body’s osmotic pressure. Among other physiological functions, the stability of cell membranes is also maintained by taurine. Additionally, it is known to have potent antioxidant qualities, which can help prevent oxidative stress in cells.

What are Taurine Sources?

Various food sources, particularly those that are derived from animals, contain taurine. It's important to understand that this amino acid is rarely present in foods that are obtained from plant sources. As a result, those who strictly stick to a vegetarian or vegan diet get less taurine. However, the body can also produce it from other amino acids like cysteine and methionine that act as its precursors, thus making it less likely to be deficient.

The following are the dietary sources of taurine:

  1. Meat: meat sources include beef, lamb, or turkey.
  2. Poultry, such as chicken, duck, and turkey.
  3. Egg: yolks mainly contain taurine.
  4. Seafood: seafood sources include shrimp and fish such as salmon and tuna.
  5. Dairy products include milk, yogurt, and cheese sources.

Taurine Supplements and Their Mechanism

Taurine can be taken from supplements that are available in different forms, including tablets, capsules, and powdered forms. However, the mechanism of action of its supplementation is not fully understood, but various scientific studies show us certain taurine uses:

  • It regulates the cell volume and osmotic balance in the body, as it has a vast effect on the mobility of water and electrolytes.
  • It supports the central nervous system by acting as a neurotransmitter in the brain and regulating the activity of other neurotransmitters, such as GABA.
  • Calcium levels within cells are regulated by taurine.  It regulates calcium channels, transporters, and intracellular calcium signaling pathways to maintain calcium homeostasis.

Taurine Benefits

L-taurine amino acid supplementation offers several benefits.

Antioxidant Properties:

It is an antioxidant that can help secure the cells from oxidative stress by scavenging harmful free radicals and minimizing the harm done by reactive oxygen species in the body.

Supports Cardiac Health:

Taurine has been scientifically linked to advantages for the heart. It promotes healthy blood vessel activity, controls blood pressure, and improves cardiovascular health in general.

Regulates neurological functioning:

It serves as a neurotransmitter in the brain and is involved in both neurotransmission and the control of neuronal activity. It encourages healthy brain functioning and possesses neuroprotective benefits.

Mood Regulation:

It has been associated with a variety of positive mental health outcomes, including the modulation of mood. It is said to provide a relaxing effect and could lessen tension and anxiety.

Muscle Repair and Exercise Efficiency:

Supplementing with taurine has been associated with enhanced muscle recovery and exercise performance. It boosts endurance levels, lessens the muscle damage brought on by intense workouts, and catalyzes recovery after activity.

Supports Eye Health:

Taurine is essential for maintaining the health and functioning of retinal cells. Supplementing with taurine may benefit eye health and offer a degree of protection from certain eye disorders.

Effects on Inflammation:

It has been proven to have anti-inflammatory qualities. It helps maintain the body's general inflammatory balance by decreasing inflammation in a variety of tissues.

Maintains Liver Health:

Taurine has been proven to have liver-protective characteristics, which means it may aid in safeguarding the liver from damage brought on by toxic substances, alcohol, and some medications. It might help the liver work effectively and speed up the detoxification mechanism.

Hearing and Vision Maintenance:

This amino acid helps in developing and maintaining sensory systems. The benefits of supplements may help maintain normal hearing and vision.

Metabolic Support:

It has been researched for its potential impact on maintaining the state of metabolic health. It could improve insulin sensitivity, control blood sugar levels, and support the healthy metabolism of lipids.

Do taurine supplements have any side effects?

When used in appropriate doses, taurine supplements generally qualify as safe for the majority of people. However, as with any supplement, there is always a chance of side effects, so here are a few considerations for taurine side effects:

  1. High doses of taurine supplementation can cause gastrointestinal issues and discomfort, such as nausea and vomiting.
  2. It can cause low blood pressure in some individuals.
  3. Some individuals may have an allergic reaction to this supplement. In this case, consult your physician immediately.
  4. Special groups, such as pregnant and lactating women, should consult with their doctors first before starting the supplementation.

Is Taurine Halal or Haram?

Taurine's source and method of production determine whether it is Halal or Haram. The amino acid taurine itself is a naturally occurring component that can be found in fish, meat, milk, and other dairy products. Taurine is usually considered halal if it is made according to Islamic dietary regulations.

Bottom Line

Taurine is a naturally occurring amino acid in the body, but it is considered an essential amino acid for infants. The dietary sources of taurine include meat, poultry eggs, dairy products, and seafood. The advantages of taurine supplementation include metabolic support, mood regulation, and antioxidant properties. Its normal dosage usually doesn’t have any side effects, but high doses of the supplement can cause slight discomfort and other negative effects in the body.

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