Taurine is one of my favorite prescriptions for perimenopause, menopause, sleep, mood, insulin resistance, and migraine prevention.
Taurine is an amino acid, but unlike most other amino acids, it’s not used to build protein. Instead, taurine has direct effects on the liver, brain, and immune system. It’s also an important antioxidant! And, fun fact: taurine accounts for up to 0.1 percent of body weight.
Taurine is a “semi-essential” amino acid because although we technically can synthesize it from methionine and cysteine, the rate of taurine synthesis is very low in humans. For optimal health, taurine must be ingested from animal foods such as meat, dairy, and fish. Plant foods have no taurine, and a standard omnivore diet provides about 400 mg.
Dietary or supplementary taurine is more important for women than men because estrogen slows the biosynthesis of taurine.
Benefits of taurine for women’s health
Calms the brain and soothes anxiety
Taurine is a calming neurotransmitter similar in structure to glycine and GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) — the brain’s other two calming neurotransmitters.
By interacting with GABA receptors, taurine helps to support beneficial “GABAergic” tone or overall GABA activity, thereby improving sleep, preventing migraines, and relieving 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 reduce inflammation, suppress appetite, and prevent obesity.
👉🏽Tip: Taurine’s benefits for GABA and insulin make it particularly helpful for the hot flashes of perimenopause and menopause.
Supports healthy estrogen metabolism or detoxification
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.
May slow aging
By reducing oxidative stress and preserving mitochondrial function, taurine has been shown to improve biomarkers associated with aging.
Builds muscle and bone
Finally, by supporting healthy muscle, taurine can help to prevent osteoporosis. (Because the biology of bone and muscle are connected.)
How to supplement with taurine
The therapeutic dose of taurine is 500 to 3000 mg and works best when taken with magnesium, another important nutrient for mood, mitochondria, and insulin sensitivity. I usually prescribe a magnesium glycinate powder with 3000 mg of taurine. Magnesium taurate (a magnesium salt of taurine) is another option.
Is taurine safe with a sulfur allergy?
A “sulfur allergy” is usually an allergy to sulfonamides (sulfa drugs) or a sensitivity to sulfites, which are common in processed foods and wine. It’s not possible to have an allergy to sulfur, the element found in taurine.
For more about taurine, see my book Hormone repair manual: every woman’s guide to healthy hormones after 40.