In humans, taurine (2-aminoethanesulfonic acid) is mainly obtained from diet. Despite the fact that the health effects of taurine are largely unknown, taurine has become a popular supplement and ingredient in energy drinks in recent years. Evidence from mechanistic and animal studies has shown that the main biological actions of taurine include its ability to conjugate bile acids, regulate blood pressure (BP), and act as a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. These actions suggest that high levels of taurine may be protective against coronary heart disease (CHD). However, data from epidemiologic and intervention studies in humans are limited. We review what is known about taurine's metabolism, its transportation in the body, its food sources, and evidence of its effect on cardiovascular health from in vitro, animal, and epidemiologic studies. We also discuss shortcomings of the human studies that need to be addressed in the future. The identification of taurine as a preventive factor for CHD may be of great public health importance.
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