Metabolic dysfunctions are a major risk factor for cardiovascular incidents such as myocardial infarction, stroke, and non-ischemic cardiovascular disease1. The constellation of symptoms indicative of metabolic dysfunction include: central obesity (apple body types), glucose intolerance, insulin resistance (eg. non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus), hypertension, dyslipidemia, high markers of inflammation, and poor blood clotting (hyperfibrinolysis). Given the complexity of this syndrome, identifying and developing treatments can be very difficult. As we learn more, we gain a greater understanding about how we can approach the underlying cause of metabolic dysfunctions while managing the symptoms.Given the wide array of symptoms, metabolic syndrome was often overlooked
This month with AOR I did a webinar entitled “Promoting Healthy Blood Sugar”. In the webinar I gave several suggestions of products that I thought and have seen clinical benefit in balancing blood sugar. I feel that the taurine product mentioned in the webinar, deserves a closer look.
Taurine (see below) is an amino acid that is different from other amino acids in that is has a sulfur group in place of a carbon group in its molecular structure and as such is not incorporated into proteins. It is synthesized in the liver from other amino acids (cysteine and methionine) and requires vitamin B6 (P5P) as a cofactor for its creation.
Low levels of taurine have been associated with retinal degeneration, growth retardation, and cardiovascular concerns. Clinically, taurine has been used in the following areas;
- Cardiovascular disease
- Hypercholestrolemia (high cholesterol)
- Retinal degeneration
- Heart arrhythmia
- Seizure disorders
- Ocular disorders
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Hepatic disorders
- Cystic fibrosis
Of note, taurine is concentrated in high amounts in the eye, heart and liver.
Funnily enough, with poorly managed blood sugar, which can set the stage for diabetes and/or metabolic syndrome, these are areas of the body that come under fire. Clinical presentation and complications of these conditions often involve issues with heart health (atherosclerosis and increased stroke risk),eye health (decreased vision, cataracts, blindness) and liver health (poor cholesterol and triglycerides, increased liver enzymes).
Taurine has been shown to be effective in combating many of these concerns. Specifically with respect to diabetes, taurine has been shown to positively influence blood glucose and insulin levels, as well as increasing glycogen synthesis. In addition, it may play a role in the functioning and integrity of the beta cells in the pancreas- the ones that produce insulin.
Taurine has also shown to play a role in the management of blood pressure, often a challenge of patients with poorly managed blood sugar. It has been shown to have positive impact on vascular inflammation, atherosclerosis, vascular wall thickening and oxidative stress. All of these concerns decrease cardiac function and increase blood pressure.
Another feather in taurine’s cap is that with few exceptions, it is safe to take, even at relatively high doses. It can be taken along side conventional medications for blood sugar, blood pressure and heart disease, but should be guided under the care of a licensed medical professional.
So, if you are having challenges with blood sugar, blood pressure or other issues mentioned above, or you have a family history and want to take a preventative approach, may I suggest giving taurine a closer look.
Kendler, BS. Taurine: An overview of its role in preventative medicine. Prev Med 1989; 18:79-100.
Timbrel, JA et al. The in vivo and in vitro protective properties of taurine. Gen Pharmac 1995; 26:453-462.
Worku, A, Mozaffari,M. Am J Cardiovasc Dis. 2011; 1(3): 293–311