Taurine and human nutrition

Clin Nutr. 1997 Jun;16(3):103-8. doi: 10.1016/s0261-5614(97)80234-8.


Taurine (2-aminoethane sulphonic acid), a ubiquitous beta-amino acid not incorporated into proteins but found either free or in some simple peptides is considered as a conditionally semi-essential amino acid in man. Once thought of as no more than an innocuous end product of cysteine metabolism, taurine has in recent years generated much interest due to research findings indicating a role in numerous physiological processes. These roles are varied and include membrane stabilization, detoxification, antioxidation, osmoregulation, maintenance of calcium homeostasis, and stimulation of glycolysis and glycogenesis. Intracellular and plasma taurine levels are high and although cellular taurine is tightly regulated, plasma levels are known to decrease in response to surgical injury and numerous pathological conditions including cancer, trauma and sepsis. Decreased plasma concentrations can be restored with supplementary taurine. Although the importance of taurine as a physiological agent with pharmacological properties is now recognised, the potential advantages of dietary supplementation with taurine have not as yet been fully exploited and this is an area which could prove to be of benefit to the patient.