Taurine is a conditional amino acid, which means it usually is produced by your body but also can be supplemented by diet. Taurine is found in a wide range of foods from seaweed and nuts to meats and fish. Taurine is an important part of numerous body metabolic processes and is known to help regulate the nervous system. Taurine supplementation has been long used for treatment of anxiety, nervousness and seizure disorders, and over the last few decades has also become a part of the therapeutic arsenal against the hyperactivity component of ADHD.
Dietary Therapies for ADHD
While traditional therapies for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder usually involve stimulants like Ritalin or Dexedrine (which have a calming effect on children with ADHD), these powerful medications also have strong side effects, and many parents prefer dietary- and behavior-modification-based therapies. However, the evidence is somewhat mixed, as while there have been several studies showing significant benefit to strict dietary regimens, some studies have demonstrated little benefit to dietary changes. Furthermore, specialized diets can be very difficult to maintain over the long run and can create stresses and resentments both within the family and in the child with ADHD.
According to WebMD, the various functions of taurine are complex and not fully understood but clearly involve regulation of the sympathetic nervous system on some levels. Supplementing the diet with taurine has proven beneficial for a wide range of conditions, from congestive heart failure to liver disease to seizure disorders to autism to hyperactivity and ADHD. Taurine also is known to have antioxidant effects.
Taurine as Inhibitory Neurotransmitter
Taurine acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the sympathetic nervous system of the body. Research has shown that taurine, along with GABA, has a broad positive anti-anxiety and anti-convulsive effect, and that dietary supplementation of either or both can also show positive effects on ADHD behaviors, especially hyperactivity.
Meats and fish are the best natural dietary sources of taurine, but it is also relatively abundant in eggs, dairy products, some nuts, seaweeds and algaes, but is only found in micro amounts in most plants. Taurine also can be taken as a supplement in powder, pill or liquid form.