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What is Taurine Deficiency?

Daniel Liden
Daniel Liden

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.

The symptoms of taurine deficiency include hypertension.
The symptoms of taurine deficiency include hypertension.

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.

Taurine deficiency can cause psychological symptoms such as depression.
Taurine deficiency can cause psychological symptoms such as depression.

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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Discussion Comments


Taurine is a nutrient that is commonly referred to as an amino acid—a required building block for protein. Taurine can be made in our bodies. Large amounts of taurine can be found in the heart, the brain, the retina, and blood cells called platelets. Taurine is also common in animal-based foods, such as seafood and meat. It helps with a variety of bodily functions, including regulating fluids and minerals in the blood as well as supporting the functioning of the heart, muscles, nerves, and eyesight.


I am finding a possible correlation of my Taurine deficiency (causing heart palpitations, shooting intermittent pain, hypertension, issues with blood sugar control, chronic fatigue etc.) to a GAD1 genetic mutation. If you have done 23andme or similar genetic testing, it may be helpful to run your results through the full metabolic NutraHacker report (the one you have to pay $23 to get) and check to see if you have a GAD1 mutation. It appears that an infection that I had "turned on" this gene and my body no longer wants to process/create sufficient Taurine, so I have to take the supplement or symptoms return. This genetic mutation is linked to Late Onset Type 1 Diabetes, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other neurological/psychiatric disorder, so also look at family medical histories and check for possible correlation.

Genova Diagnostics has an amino acid panel that may be helpful for folks who are having difficulty identifying the source of their problem. It analyzes all the different amino acids and identifies where an individual is having problems and provides specific supplementation suggestions.


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.


@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.


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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    • The symptoms of taurine deficiency include hypertension.
      By: Monkey Business
      The symptoms of taurine deficiency include hypertension.
    • Taurine deficiency can cause psychological symptoms such as depression.
      By: tab62
      Taurine deficiency can cause psychological symptoms such as depression.
    • Low levels of taurine can result in severe anxiety.
      By: nadezhda1906
      Low levels of taurine can result in severe anxiety.
    • Taurine deficiency can cause severe kidney problems.
      By: nerthuz
      Taurine deficiency can cause severe kidney problems.
    • Taurine deficiency may cause anxiety.
      By: WavebreakMediaMicro
      Taurine deficiency may cause anxiety.
    • Symptoms of a taurine deficiency may include hyperthyroidism.
      By: Sebastian Kaulitzki
      Symptoms of a taurine deficiency may include hyperthyroidism.