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How Does Taurine Work in the Body?

By Jessica Bruso

You get taurine, an amino acid, from the protein-containing foods you eat, and your body can also make it out of the amino acids cysteine and methionine combined with vitamin B-6. This abundant amino acid plays a number of essential roles in the body and may also limit your risk for certain health conditions.

Roles in the Body

Your body uses taurine and other amino acids as building blocks to form whatever proteins it needs, including muscle. Taurine is also important for the formation of bile for the digestion of fats, the development and function of the retina, the maintenance of cell membranes and the release of the neurotransmitters that carry signals between nerve cells.

Improving Heart Health

Taurine helps keep your heartbeat regular, according to the New York University Langone Medical Center. Although more research is necessary, a review article published in "Experimental & Clinical Cardiology" in 2008 notes that taurine may help lower blood pressure and prevent against ischemia-reperfusion injury when blood returns to your tissues after they've been temporarily deprived of oxygen. In addition, taurine may regulate the amount of calcium in cells, limit clogged arteries and act as an antioxidant to help limit inflammation. Thus, it may be helpful for people suffering from heart disease, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis and diabetic cardiomyopathy.

Protecting the Nervous System

Taurine helps develop your nervous system and protect it from damage, including the potentially adverse effects of glutamate. It may also help limit your risk for neurodegenerative diseases, according to an article published in "Current Opinions in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care" in November 2006, although further studies are necessary for verifying this effect.

Preliminary Research Results

An animal study published in "Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology" in 2013 found that taurine appears to increase nitric oxide and testosterone levels in aged rats, thus increasing their sexual response. Another animal study published in "Hearing Research" in December 2010 found taurine may improve tinnitus symptoms. Taurine may also increase endurance by limiting muscle fatigue, according to an animal study published in "Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology" in 2009. This amino acid appears to limit the risk for diabetes and its complications as well, according to a study published in "Amino Acids" in May 2012. Further studies are necessary to determine whether taurine has these same beneficial effects in people.

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