MadSci Network: Biochemistry

Re: How does taurine affect the body?

Date: Fri Feb 4 17:08:52 2000
Posted By: Elizabeth Kunkel, Faculty, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Clemson University
Area of science: Biochemistry
ID: 948869673.Bc

Chemically, taurine is an amino acid.  In the body, taurine is found mostly 
in the muscle and central nervous system.  It has functions related to 
vision, membrane stability, bile salt formation and nerve transmissions.  
Our bodies make taurine from the sulfur amino acids, cysteine and 
methionine.  Because our bodies make it, taurine is not ordinarily an 
essential nutrient.  However, consumption may be beneficial for infants fed 
 formulas that do not contain taurine and for adults maintained on 
intravenous formulas.  There is no indication that consumption of extra 
taurine is beneficial for other groups of humans.  If we consume too much 
taurine, it is excreted in the urine and it is not known to be toxic.  The 
taurine we eat comes almost completely from animal foods (there is very 
little found in vegetables); so vegetarians have a low taurine intake and 
no deficiency has been found in that group.  Reference:  Shils, ME, Olson, 
JA and Shike, M.  Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease, 8th edition.  

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