What foods contain taurine

Taurine - important for the eyes, nerves, heart and lipid metabolism

Taurine is important for the retina of the eyes. It contributes to the nervous and heart functions and has antioxidant effects.

Taurine is derived from "taurus" (bull), as this substance was found in ox bile in the 1820s. Although classified as an amino acid, unlike other amino acids, taurine is not involved in building structural proteins, for example muscles or connective tissue. Taurine usually occurs in the body in free, unbound form, and it is formed from the sulfur-containing amino acids cysteine ​​and methionine.

Taurine has important functions in the body
Taurine contributes to the growth of the eyes and brain. The largest amounts are found in the central nervous system, in the retina of the eyes and in the blood platelets. Taurine is part of a number of smaller proteins and neurotransmitters that are important for nerve function. It can also calm and strengthen easily excitable cell membranes in the heart, nerves, and platelets. Taurine also has an antioxidant effect. It can render free radicals harmless and, for example, bind and detoxify chemicals, environmental pollutants, etc. in the liver. Taurine also promotes the balanced function of the bile acids and contributes to a healthy fat metabolism.

The main suppliers of taurine
Taurine is found mainly in animal foods and rarely in plant foods. Vegetarians therefore only consume very small amounts of this amino acid.

Some taurine-rich foods contain 100 grams each

Mussels, fresh240 mg
tuna70 mg
Oysters70 mg
Pork, fillet50 mg
Lamb, fillet47 mg
Beef, fillet36 mg
Chicken, leg34 mg
cod31 mg
Whole milk6 mg

Does the daily diet cover the need for taurine?

Since taurine is mainly found in animal foods, strict vegetarians may not be able to consume enough of it.

The need for taurine is usually covered by diet and together with the body's own synthesis. Between 40 and 400 mg of taurine are usually consumed daily with food. Humans can synthesize taurine rather poorly, around 50 to 125 mg are formed daily. In the case of a diet low in taurine, for example with a strictly vegetarian diet, in which dairy products are also avoided, the taurine levels are often very low.

Typical groups for an increased need for taurine
The need for taurine can be increased in the case of a number of diseases and stresses, e.g. strong oxidative stress. For example, chronic liver diseases can make the synthesis of taurine difficult and increase the risk of a deficiency. In particular, strict vegetarians who have an increased need for taurine should ensure an adequate, supplementary intake.

The need for taurine can be increased in the following conditions, complaints and illnesses

  • if there is a lack of the amino acids methionine, cysteine ​​and vitamin B6
  • with disturbed fat digestion (e.g. liver, gall bladder or pancreatic diseases)
  • with increased oxidative stress (pollutants, etc.)
  • at risk of retinal diseases (cataracts)
  • if you have high blood pressure or if you are at risk of cardiovascular diseases
  • in atherosclerosis
  • in chronic degenerative diseases
  • in chronic liver diseases
  • in epilepsy

Can you overdose on taurine or are there side effects?
There are few known side effects when taking taurine. Occasionally, upset stomachs may occur and children may be more sleepy.

Taurine for prevention and therapy - and how much?
Taurine is usually not necessary for general prevention. The preventive intake can possibly take place in the case of increased health risks, for example for heart diseases. For medical treatment, taurine is used when there is a known deficiency or when there is an increased need, the dosage is determined by the therapist.

Since taurine is made from cysteine, taurine levels can also be increased with the help of cysteine ​​supplements. Vitamin B6 is involved in the synthesis and should then be prescribed additionally.