|MadSci Network: Biochemistry|
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. 1994.
Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Biochemistry.