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.
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.