Taurine is an amino acid found in poultry, meat, seafood, eggs and dairy products. Your body can also make it from two other amino acids, cysteine and methionine, and from vitamin B-6. While there is no recommended daily intake of taurine, the NYU Langone Medical Center reports that some scientific studies indicate supplementing with taurine may help treat viral hepatitis and congestive heart failure. Vegans and strict vegetarians may require supplementation if their diets do not provide adequate vitamin B-6. Talk to your doctor about any possible side effects before taking taurine.
Effects of Low Doses
A typical dose of supplemental taurine ranges from 2 to 6 grams, usually divided into two or three separate doses taken throughout the day. According to a review by the Council for Responsible Nutrition published in 2008 in "Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology," healthy adults do not experience any adverse side effects associated with regularly consuming 3 grams of a taurine supplement each day.
Effects of High Doses
Scientific studies have not determined whether consuming more than 3 grams of taurine is safe or harmful. An article published in 2006 in "Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery" reported that a 27-year-old competitive bodybuilder who had consumed a one-time dose of 14 grams of taurine developed encephalopathy, a potentially life-threatening brain disease. Since the man had also been taking illegal drugs and megadoses of other supplements, it is impossible to determine if the condition was caused by taurine alone.
Possible Drug Interactions
Taurine supplements should not be taken at the same time as lithium, a medication used to treat symptoms associated with bipolar disorder. Lithium is eliminated from the body through urine. High levels of taurine inhibit urine production and may cause the lithium to build up to toxic levels. Lithium toxicity may cause diarrhea, vomiting, muscle weakness, seizures, dizziness and slurred speech. Interactions between taurine and other medications or supplements aren't known; discuss each with your doctor before taking taurine.
Pregnant or nursing women and young children should not take taurine supplements. There are no clinical research studies proving that infants and children will not be harmed by exposure to higher than normal levels of the amino acid. In addition, you should avoid taurine if you have bipolar disorder, kidney disease or liver disease. If you do choose to use taurine and develop any unusual medical problems, stop taking the supplement and seek medical attention promptly.