Taurine is a conditional essential sulfur amino acid. This means that we can make it, but not in quantities large enough to satisfy our needs. Your liver and your brain make it, and it is abundant in human breast milk- that gives you a BIG CLUE how important it is to healthy brain development!
There is only one known vegetable source of it – nori – that seaweed used in sushi. So, that tells you how much you better be eating animal sources such as seafood and dark meat poultry- the highest sources of taurine- followed by red meat. We make it from the amino acid cysteine, so this is why some people can notice nice mood changes when they take a supplement like NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine) because it helps them make more taurine.
I opt to give taurine as a therapeutic nutrient for a lot of my patients, even the ones eating a lot of meat. Why? Well, it is incredibly common to have poor stomach acid, intestinal infections, mucous-filled digestion, and irritable bowel symptoms that drastically reduce people’s ability to digest, absorb, and assimilate the nutrients in their food. Heck, people barely CHEW their food now, so it gets very hard to break it down later in the system.
My patient base is primarily Autism, ADHD, anxiety, mood disorders, behavioral disorders including rage and violence, as well as dementia, Alzheimer’s and other cognitive deficits such as concussions, TBI, stroke, and seizures. In these groups, I find taurine deficiency EXTREMELY common. Using taurine has helped to “calm” a lot of brains in my office over the years.
Taurine deficiency is linked to many health conditions:
anxiety, depression, epilepsy, congestive heart failure, aging, liver disease, kidney disease, Parkinson’s, diabetes T1 and T2, and anyone using chemotherapy drugs.
Here’s how it calms a stressed-out brain: taurine acts like a neurotransmitter all by itself being very similar to GABA; it also stimulates GABA production. GABA is referred to as “the peacemaker” because it is the most calming/inhibiting neurotransmitter in the body.
Taurine also is protective against aging or other inflammatory damage because it increases BDNF or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which is a protein that promotes NEW BRAIN CELLS TO GROW. In particular, it helps stimulate the hippocampus area of the brain, which is hit very hard in memory loss conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Taurine has neuroprotective, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, memory support, as well as anti-anxiety benefits making it a strong consideration for adding seafood as well as possibly supplementing.
And, it does some amazing things for the eyes and ears…yes, it might help tinnitus! Diabetics probably need it, heart disease patients need it, and it’s one of the best emergency treatments for MSG reactions out there! Are you forced to eat crap Chinese food while traveling? Take some taurine with that meal to try and stop the tidal wave of brain cell death heading your way through over excitation of brain cells and subsequent neurotoxicity.
Dosing ranges from 500 mg to 2000 mg on average.
Do not take if you are on lithium without very close monitoring with your doctor.
Taurine needs to be used with caution and under supervision for bipolar disorder.
Beta-alanine is commonly taken by biohackers and athletes- but taking the two together can backfire and lead to taurine deficiency.
Pregnant and breastfeeding- first do no harm- do not take. Work with a clinician. If a new mom is vegetarian, I will do everything in my power to get her to eat meat and seafood for that nursing baby first. Pills are a last resort. But I also won’t let a newborn risk blindness from taurine deficient breast milk. That’s a “see your doctor” kind of call. But be sure that the doctor knows nutrition, most OB-GYNs have had literally ZERO nutrition education, and might not even know that taurine (or CBD or MCT or ketones) is in human breast milk. Talk to your midwife!