Structural formula of the taurine molecule.
Note the sulfone and the amino groups.
Taurine - an amino acid, first isolated by Tiedemann and Gmelin (Germany) in 1827 from bovine bile. It owes its name to the Greek word taurus, which means "bull". The discovery of taurine was of little importance until, in 1970, scientists showed that it is an essential ingredient in cat food. Due to its lack, animals developed blindness and serious problems with heart function.
Taurine is a β-amino acid (amino and sulfonic groups are separated by 2 carbon atoms) and does not contain asymmetric atoms, so there are no L and D isomers. Taurine is a non-protein amino acid, i.e. it does not participate in the construction of proteins. It contains sulfur in the thiol group and has a specific physiological role. It shows high biological activity and is essential for the proper functioning of the human body.
Taurine in the body comes from two sources: from food and internal synthesis from other sulfur amino acids, mainly in the liver and brain. However, although the body can synthesize it itself, it is usually in small amounts and in some situations the demand for it exceeds the production capacity. Taurine is a relatively essential amino acid and can be produced in the body in small amounts by the degradation of cysteine.
How much should taurine intake be?
The daily requirement for taurine is estimated at about 60 mg. In supplementation doses, as a supplement to the diet, the consumption of taurine up to 500 mg is completely safe. Eliminating the deficiency of taurine in the body is also necessary because replacing it with another substance is impossible, as taurine affects numerous vital physiological and biochemical processes in the cell. Vegetarian and vegan diets may favor taurine deficiency.
The increased need for taurine is in the following situations:
- Intensive Growth and Development (Childhood)
- Aging of the Body (Elderhood)
- Any Medical Conditions
- Intense Physical Effort (Sports, Hard Physical Work)
- Stress Related to Various Life Situations
Natural sources of taurine
In nature, rich sources of taurine can be found in oysters, meat, fish, whey and some legumes such as peas and lentils. Taurine is also found in breast milk.
The concentration of taurine in meat ranges from 30 – 200 mg per 100 gram of meat. It is the most abundant in turkey meat and the least in broiler chicken meat. Plenty of taurine is found in seafood - in marine invertebrates 300-800 mg / g - and in fish (50-200 mg / 100 g).
Natural sources of taurine
Fish: Salmon, Tuna, Cod
Poultry, Chicken Meat
Offal (Liver, Heart)
Goat's Milk & Products (Cheese, Cottage Cheese)
Our body produces small amounts of taurine in the liver, brain, intestines and skeletal muscles, from the conversion of other essential (sulfur) amino acids, mainly cysteine.
Taurine deficiency leads to:
- Visual impairment up to sight damage
- Heart problems and permanent damage to the heart muscle
- Malabsorption of fat-soluble vitamins up to avitaminosis
- damage to the cells of many organs as a result of the harmful effects of free radicals and heavy metals