Leonard Smith, M.D., is a renowned gastrointestinal, vascular and general surgeon as well as an expert in the use of nutrition and natural supplementation. As a surgeon, Dr. Smith has first-hand experience of the problems associated with faulty digestion and the surgical necessities they can cause.
For the past 20 years, Dr. Smith has investigated many holistic medical programs, including nutrition, exercise, chelation, stress management and the relevance of mental and spiritual attitudes in healing. Acknowledging the effectiveness of whole organic foods and nutritional supplementation, Dr. Smith strives to stay on the leading edge of research and breakthroughs in the field of functional nutrition.
In last week's article, Are You Dangerously Deficient in Taurine?, I explained the importance of the amino acid taurine and how it is essential for developing babies and newborns. I also covered the risks of deficiency in children and adults.
This week's article covers how to accurately determine taurine levels, how much to take and other supplements that can enhance taurine production.
There are several reasons you may want to be tested for taurine levels. I have included just a few of those that have been highlighted in my research.
- You May Want to Get Tested For Taurine Levels If You:
- Are under high physical demands such as severe exercise (like an athlete) or injury
- Have intestinal, liver or immune problems
- Have a fungal infection, like candida
- Have a child with autism, in which case both of you should be tested
- Are planning to have a child or breastfeeding
- Are obese
- Are a smoker
- Have edema
- Have low or high iron levels
- Have heart disease
- Experience anxiety, migraines, insomnia, agitation, restlessness, irritability, obsessions and depression.
Recommended Testing For Taurine Levels
- It has been shown that the best way to determine levels of taurine in humans is by measuring it in whole blood as opposed to blood plasma (blood plasma is the non-cellular part of blood usually used in most measurements).
- This takes into account that various blood cells (Lymphocytes, Neutrophils and platelets) have much higher taurine levels than plasma.
- Look at white blood cell taurine levels if you have chronic viral hepatitis.
While there are general guidelines for taurine supplementation, you may want to have your levels tested first. Keep in mind that some tests are more accurate than others.
Urine and stool tests are less likely to be accurate, especially for vegans, newborns and people with low zinc or the systemic fungal infection, candida. In these cases, these tests may show a deficiency or excess of taurine, which would not be an accurate measurement of total body taurine levels
What Expecting Mothers Should Know
When a fetus in his mother's womb is under stress, there may be a significant decline in the production of the taurine transporter molecule. This means that taurine will not be transported or carried into the cells of the developing fetus in sufficient amounts.
Fetal distress basically means your baby is not tolerating labor well and may have a heart rate that is too high or too low. While babies born with this condition are typically in good health, some cases may result in problems such as seizures, retardation and learning disabilities.
There are many causes linked to fetal distress - including low grade infection, and/or inflammation, which can lead to a degree of acid buildup in the tissues and blood. The Body Ecology Diet. Learn why mothers are at risk for infections during pregnancy, including candida (which also lowers taurine) by reading: The Myths and Truths of the Mercury/Autism Connection.
Since taurine is an essential amino acid for the fetus and newborn (they cannot make taurine on their own), the mother's supply of taurine is essential for her developing baby. If a mother's taurine is low during or after her baby's birth (newborns get taurine from breast milk), taurine from her diet or supplementation is important.
While more research is needed, we feel this plays a role in Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) that range from ADD to autism.
Many autistic children have candida and are losing taurine through their urine. Urine tests would show taruine to be too high, when in fact, total body taurine is low. Read last week's article, Are You Dangerously Deficient in the Taurine?, to learn why a urine test for taurine can be ineffective if you or your child have candida.
Taurine is an essential amino acid for babies. If an expecting mother is deficient in taurine, her developing baby is at risk
Supplementing With Taurine
I recommend getting your taurine levels tested by your doctor and understanding the possible side effects before supplementing with taurine.
Here are some general guidelines based on research for taurine supplementation that you can share with your doctor.
Keep in mind that these doses are general guidelines, supported by medical literature. All dosage guidelines would vary depending on your kidney and liver function, genetics, general state of health and body size.
I believe taurine should be taken with P5P (the active form of vitamin B6) because it is necessary for taurine production.
Research Indicates The Following Dosage Guidelines
(check with your doctor for your specific situation):
- Overall, the dosage used may range from 500 mg to 5-6 grams.
- Recommended range for total sulfur containing amino acids, like taurine, for maintenance is:
- Infants and small children - 27-58 mg per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of bodyweight. For example a young child weighing 24 pounds (or 11 kilograms), a daily dose of taurine could be around 500 mg. per day in two divided doses.
- Adults 13-16 mg per kilogram (2.2 pounds) of body weight.
Athletic training - 6 grams in 3 divided doses has been used.
- Heart disease - 5-6 grams daily in three divided doses (low taurine and magnesium levels were found in patients after heart attacks).
- Arrhythmias or congestive heart failure - 2 grams three times daily has shown improved cardiac and respiratory function.
- Seizures - 500 mg, three times daily.
Possible Side Effects of Taurine Supplementation
Possible symptoms of toxicity from taurine supplementation include diarrhea and peptic ulcers.
The potential for ulcers arises from the fact that taurine stimulates gastric acid production. For many people who are low in stomach acid, including the elderly and autistic children, gastric acid production could be a benefit.
However, if you have plenty of stomach acid or are taking hydrochloric acid (HCl) to aid your digestion, you may want to discuss this with your doctor or discontinue your HCl supplements when supplementing with taurine.
Supplements that Enhance Taurine Production
- Vitamin D3, 1000 - 2000 IU
- Vitamin A
- P5P (active form of vitamin B6) - jet airline fuel creates airborne carbonyl residues which may block the conversion of B6 to P5P in your body. Depending on where you live, there maybe significant jet fuel residues in the air and on the ground.
- Glutamine supplementation increases plasma taurine in trauma patients and stressed rats.
- Vitality SuperGreen is an excellent source of covalent bonded glutamine (readily absorbed by your gut), as opposed to typical glutamine (does not absorb well).
- Methionine (an essential amino acid found in animal protein) could be an alternative to taurine supplementation because it can make cysteine, which then makes taurine.
- Keep in mind that if you supplement with methionine, you must have enough P5P (either in your body or as a supplement) in order to make taurine.
- Energy Boost Fulvic Acid and Vitality Boost Humic Acid are both sources of methionine.
Based on the animal study, mentioned below, fermented foods and drinks would also be beneficial to build a healthy inner ecosystem that could help with taurine metabolism in your gut.
Animal Studies Point to Possible Importance of Your Inner Ecosystem
In a study done on cats consuming the appropriate level of dietary taurine, low levels were found in their urine and feces. The reason for this disparity is probably due to microbial degradation in the gut, which leads me to believe that the metabolism of the gut is important in determining their taurine status.
If the same is true for humans, it's one more reason why a healthy inner ecosystem, teeming with good bacteria, is critical. The Body Ecology Diet provides the keys to creating your healthy inner ecosystem and boosting your immunity.