Taurine is one of the most abundant amino acid
s in the body. It's found in the central nervous system, skeletal muscle and is very concentrated in the brain
s with an unbalanced protein
intake, and therefore deficient in methionine or cysteine may have difficulty manufacturing Taurine.
Taurine functions in electrically active tissues such as the brain and heart to help stabilise cell membranes. Taurine seems to inhibit and modulate neurotransmitter
s in the brain and helps to stabilise cell membranes. It also has functions in the gallbladder
, and blood vessel
s and appears to have some antioxidant and detoxifying activity. Taurine aids the movement of potassium
, and magnesium
in and out of cells and thus helps generate nerve impulses. Zinc
seems to support this effect of Taurine. There have been reports on the benefits of Taurine supplementation for epileptic
s. It has also been found to control motor tics, such as uncontrollable facial twitch
es. Taurines' effectiveness in epilepsy
has been limited by its poor diffusion across the blood-brain barrier.
In Japan, Taurine therapy is used in the treatment of ischemic heart disease. Low Taurine and magnesium levels have been found in patients after heart attack
s. Like magnesium, Taurine affects cell membrane electrical excitability by normalising potassium flow in and out of heart muscle cells. Supplements decrease the tendency to develop potentially lethal abnormal heart arrythmias after heart attacks. People with congestive heart failure have also responded to supplementation with improved cardiac and respiratory function.
Taurine is necessary for the chemical reactions that produce normal vision, and deficiencies are associated with retinal degeneration. Besides protecting the retina, Taurine may help prevent and possibly reverse age-related cataract
s. Low levels of Taurine and other sulphur
containing amino acids are associated with high blood pressure, and Taurine supplements have been shown to lower blood pressure in some studies.
Taurine has been related to an increase in the metabolism of fats. Most drinks containing Taurine are high in sugar and unsuitable for dieters, however a range of "diet" sugar-free drinks have hit the market which contain the same levels of Taurine. Recent UK tests have shown that these drinks, combined with a structured diet (such as Weight Watchers
™), can help the dieting process. The results have helped make Vodka and Diet Red Bull
the alcoholic choice of dieters.