Taurine has promise for athletic performance, the prevention of cardiovascular disease, and possibly for psychiatric disorders such as anxiety, depression, and psychosis.

In this post, I review the scientific evidence on the benefits of taurine supplementation.

Taurine is a naturally occurring amino acid with the following structure.

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Taurine is found only in meat (50-100 mg/100g). The highest concentrations are found in oysters (400 mg/100g) (1).

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Estimated taurine intake from the American diet is about 400 mg/day (2). Much higher intakes are consumed by some human groups. Intake by vegans and vegetarians is nearly zero. Correspondingly, vegans and vegetarians have lower concentrations of taurine in their blood, urine, and breast milk (3, 4, 5).

Here is where things get interesting. Taurine supplementation has been shown to improve heart function in congestive heart failure and is approved in Japan for patients with congestive heart failure (6). Taurine may be effective for this disease because taurine may exert protective effects on stressed heart cells (7).

Taurine was shown in a 2018 meta-analysis of 10 randomized controlled trials to slightly improve endurance exercise performance (8).

A 2020 meta-analysis of 12 randomized controlled trials showed a clinically significant reduction in blood pressure, blood triglycerides, and blood cholesterol from taurine supplementation (9). Improvements in lipids have been shown in rats, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rabbits (10). Many studies in many species showing the same phenomenon suggests that the benefits (an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease) shown in the above meta-analyses are real.

Another meta-analysis including 188 subjects showed an improvement in both systolic and diastolic blood pressures after taurine supplementation compared to placebo (11). Indeed, the blood pressure reduction from taurine supplementation (here 1.6 grams per day) is almost as powerful as that seen in clinical trials using blood pressure medications like ACE inhibitors. At least one randomized controlled trial showed clear evidence for taurine supplementation improving vascular function (12).

A few human trials suggest that the effect on the vasculature, including blood pressure, may be mediated by in part by a reduction in circulating catecholamines (“stress” hormones) (see “Endpoint” column).

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This is supported by animal studies that report very, very large reductions in circulating epinephrine and norepinephrine (13).

One study in rats, published in 2017, suggested an anti-anxiety or anti-depressive effect of taurine (14). This study is confirmed by a wealth of studies documenting anti-anxiety effects of taurine in rodents (15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21).

Could a higher taurine intake account for some of the reports of an enhanced sense of wellbeing after vegans and vegetarians begin eating meat again?

Interestingly, the mental health benefits of taurine may apply even to severe psychiatric disorders, like schizophrenia. In a recent albeit small RCT in patients with first-episode psychosis, taurine-treated patients showed a substantial improvement compared to placebo (22).

In summary, taurine improves outcomes in congestive heart failure and reduces blood pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors. It may improve athletic performance and benefit mental health, especially anxiety, with no known adverse effects.

High-meat diets may provide upwards of several grams of taurine per day. More than 20 randomized controlled trials have been conducted using taurine, up to 10 g/day, with no adverse effects. It is estimated that at least 3 grams per day is a safe chronic supplementation dose (23).

It may be best to supplement nightly before bed, before a stressful event, and/or in the morning. A good starting dose may 500-1000mg per day and increasing upward from there.

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If you decide to purchase, please purchase *directly* through one of these links so that I get credit!

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