C. Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D.
I wrote about taurine many months ago, but it is such an important amino acid that it is worth revisiting. Although some do not consider taurine an essential amino acid, because some people can manufacture it out of methionine, others consider it essential. I am one of those others! Some adults lack Cysteine oxidase, the enzyme necessary for the conversion. Also, a majority of people are borderline or deficient in the active form of B 6, pyridoxal -5-phosphate, which is essential for the conversion. Vitamin A deficiencies and zinc deficiencies also contribute to the deficiency in taurine. Furthermore, 86% of depressed people are deficient in taurine. And 62% of autistic children are deficient in taurine. Taurine is essential for the developing brain. Even lacto-ovo vegetarians get only 10% as much taurine as omnivores.
Stabilizes the electrical charge on cells
Is more concentrated in heart and retina than in other organs
Assists fat absorption
Prevents irregular heartbeat
Reduces free radicals; it is an antioxidant
Helps athletic performance—Assists white blood cells in fighting infections
IS TOTALLY ABSENT IN ALL VEGETABLES AND FRUITS
Is destroyed by MSG!
Is lost in the urine when you have candidiasis
Of crucial importance is the food sources of taurine:
Scallops—827 mg per 100 gm
Mussels—655 mg per 100 gm
Clam—4520 mg per 100 gm
Turkey dark meat-299 mg per 100 gm
Chicken, dark meat—199 mg per 100 gm
Beef—38 mg per 100 gm
White fish—172 mg per 100 gm
Brewers yeast—trace per 100 grams (yes, yeast is an ANIMAL!)
Milk—2.4 mg per 100 ml
Diseases which may be helped with taurine supplementation:
The bottom line:
If you are one of those who insists upon being vegan, you need to add taurine as well as B 12! If you have insomnia or any of the above problems, consider adding a minimum of one gram and up to 3 grams daily. For insomnia, I prefer starting with timed-release melatonin, up to 3 mg and adding slowly up to 3 grams of taurine if needed.
J of Parental and Enteral Nutrition, 14:183-188, 1990