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What Is Taurine Deficiency?

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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2014
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Taurine deficiency occurs when an individual does not consume enough taurine, or 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid, an organic acid that has many important biological roles in the body. Taurine plays an important part in roles relating to metabolism and to certain pathways in the nervous system, particularly those relating to brain function and vision. It is usually produced by the body; taurine deficiency tends to occur when one's body cannot produce enough of the organic acid. A deficiency in taurine is often suggestive of a deficiency in some other nutrient in the body, as there are many vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that are involved in the production of taurine.

It can be quite difficult to identify taurine deficiency because its symptoms resemble those of many different disorders. One of the most common symptoms is impaired vision, as taurine serves an important role in visual nerve pathways. It is also necessary to properly digest fats, so deficiency leads to weight gain in some cases as well. Taurine deficiency can also cause some psychological symptoms such as depression or anxiety; this is also related to taurine's role in nervous system pathways. Other possible symptoms include hypertension, hyperthyroidism, and, in particularly extreme and rare cases, kidney problems as severe as kidney failure.

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There are several possible causes of taurine deficiency, and most of them are related to some other imbalance or disorder. Deficiency in various vitamins and amino acids, such as vitamin A, zinc, Cysteine, and methionine can all slow the body's production of taurine. Those who do not eat enough meat or eggs often lack the necessary components to produce some enzymes that are necessary to produce appropriate levels of taurine. Some bacterial and fungal infections, such as candida, interfere with the body's taurine-producing complexes. Monosodium glutamate (MSG), a component used to flavor many processed foods, degrades taurine, thereby reducing the amount that the body has to work with.

Once one manages to identify taurine deficiency, there are many ways to deal with it and to maintain healthy levels of the organic acid. There are many different taurine supplements in pill, powder, or liquid form that can return the amount of taurine in one's body to healthy levels. Identifying and treating other deficiencies in vitamins, amino acids, and enzymes can also help fix taurine deficiency problems. Dietary changes can also be used to reverse deficiency; consuming more meat, fish, and eggs and eating fewer processed foods with MSG can help to return one's taurine levels to normal.

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anon233424
Post 3

Every time I don't take taurine I get bad cramps in my feet in both legs, especially when doing some exercise. And that's despite eating quite healthy, including the diet with more fish, meat, eggs etc.

indigomoth
Post 2

@umbra21 - The thing is, they don't put very much taurine in those drinks anyway. Not enough to have an effect on anybody anyway.

Actually, taurine is really necessary for cats. They get taurine deficiency all the time if they aren't fed properly. My sister is a vet nurse and she mentioned it once. Most pet foods have enough taurine included to keep them safe.

But, at one point, back in the day, they didn't know cats needed it so much and cats that were fed the wrong kind of food for too long would get sick for what seemed like no reason.

It's a good reason to stick to giving cats a healthy diet, rather than feeding them off your plate.

umbra21
Post 1

Taurine deficiency is actually pretty rare, which you wouldn't know if you listened to energy drink commercials.

We had to look it up in biology class, I think because my teacher wanted to make a point. There have never been any studies done which show taurine actually makes you less tired, which it is supposed to do, according to that kind of advertising. But, it seems to get added to every energy drink.

The only thing they contain that actually seems to do anything is caffeine!

It actually really annoys me that they can get away with it by using vague language and insinuations. I guess maybe people who have genuine taurine deficiencies can get something out of them.

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