Taurine is one of my favorite supplements for perimenopause, menopause, sleep, mood, insulin resistance, and migraine prevention.
It’s a sulfur-containing amino acid that is unique in that it is not used to build proteins but instead plays an essential role as a free amino acid in many aspects of physiology including the healthy functioning of the immune and nervous systems. Taurine so important and widespread that it accounts for up to 0.1% of body weight.
Because taurine can be synthesized from methionine and cysteine, it has traditionally been classified as a “non-essential” amino acid, which is certainly a misnomer because the rate of synthesis in humans is very low. Instead, taurine must be ingested and the standard daily intake from an omnivore diet is up to 400 mg, obtained solely from animal foods such as meat, dairy, and seafood. There’s no taurine in plant foods.
Dietary taurine is even more important for women because estrogen impedes biosynthesis.
Benefits of taurine for women’s health
Calms the brain and soothes anxiety
Taurine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter structurally similar to glycine and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), the two main calming neurotransmitters in the brain.
By interacting with both glycine and GABA receptors, taurine helps to support beneficial “GABAergic” tone or activity, which improves sleep, prevents migraines, and can relieve premenstrual and perimenopausal mood symptoms.
Helps to reverse insulin resistance and prevent obesity
Taurine improves healthy insulin sensitivity by supporting mitochondria and preventing the harmful overproduction of reactive oxygen species (ROS). Together with magnesium, taurine can also reduce inflammation, suppress appetite, and prevent obesity.
👉🏽Tip: Taurine’s benefits for both GABA and insulin make it particularly helpful for the hot flashes of perimenopause and menopause. (For more information about the link between insulin resistance and hot flashes, see my new book, coming March 2021.)
Supports healthy estrogen metabolism
By supporting the healthy formation of bile acids, taurine can prevent gallstones and help to promote the healthy detoxification of estrogen through the liver and bowel.
Enhances treatment of iron-deficient anemia
Results from a clinical trial suggest that the addition of taurine can boost hemoglobin in response to iron supplementation. The benefit is probably due to enhanced survival of red cells thanks to taurine’s antioxidant and cell-membrane stabilizing effects.
Taurine builds bone
How to supplement taurine
The recommended dose is between 500 to 3000 mg and it works best when taken with magnesium, another important nutrient for mood, mitochondria, and insulin sensitivity. I typically prescribe a magnesium glycinate powder that also contains 3000 mg of taurine. Magnesium taurate (a magnesium salt of taurine) is also an option.