By Yolanda Smith, BPharm
Taurine is a natural amino acid naturally present in bodily tissues that play a role in physiological functions that is also available in food sources for dietary intake.
Due to its wide effects in the body, it has been added as an ingredient in several consumer products. However, in large dose it may have a toxic effect on the body and the current upper limit of taurine is not known. There is some concern about cardiac toxicity, and the observed safe limit should be followed to reduce the risk of side effects.
Supplements and Consumer Products
Taurine has become increasingly popular in a range of health foods, including dietary supplements, functional foods and energy drinks. Nutritional research in the area supports the beneficial effects of taurine in promoting many physiological functions and performance benefits.
As a result, the health industry has responded with various supplementation products that allow individuals to increase their daily intake of taurine and other amino acids beyond normal dietary intake.
However, the optimal dose of taurine is yet to be agreed upon and research does not clearly indicate how much an individual needs to reap the benefits, without experiencing toxic effects of the amino acid.
It is essential that the public consumers of foods and beverages containing taurine are aware of the benefits and risks, particularly in relation to toxicity. Energy drinks are freely available for purchase and many consumers may be unaware of the taurine content in the products they buy. As a result, they are at risk of consuming high doses of taurine unknowingly and may be at risk of toxic effects.
Some medical researchers have considerable concern about the safety of taurine for the heart tissue and believe that the amino acid may cause damage to the heart. However, at present this suggestion is not supported by any significant research. In fact, opposing research indicates that the leakage of taurine from damaged cells in cardiac failure may be responsible for the elevated serum taurine levels.
Observed Safe Limit
The maximum safe dose of taurine as a supplement is the dose at which there is a high level of confidence that an individual will not experience any side effects. This dose assumes that the supplement will be taken on a long-term daily basis.
According to one study, the observed safety limit was deemed to be 3 grams of taurine as a supplement, taken in addition to normal dietary intake. There have been several studies that have investigated the effects of higher doses, which are largely well tolerated, but there is insufficient evidence to support the long-term use of higher doses.
Last Updated: Sep 28, 2015