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For most, taking extra taurine isn't helpful

November 04, 2002|Shari Roan

Taurine, an amino acid made by the body, also is found in animal proteins, such as meat, fish and eggs. The Food and Drug Administration recently seized shipments and stopped sales of a taurine supplement made by Kirkman Laboratories, accusing the Oregon-based manufacturer of making unsubstantiated claims that the product could reduce symptoms of autism.

Uses: Interest stems from the fact that taurine plays a role in brain and retinal development. It's found in breast milk (and added to infant formula) and helps produce bile acids, which aid in fat absorption.

Dose: Capsules of 500 to 1,000 milligrams usually are taken two or three times a day.

Precautions: There is little to suggest that taurine supplements are potentially harmful or toxic although very high doses may cause diarrhea. Taurine may interact with certain chemotherapy drugs.

Research: Because the body makes taurine, most people don't need supplements. However, some researchers suspect they may be able to help people with epilepsy, Down syndrome, depression, eye disease, heart disease and diabetes.

Dietary supplement makers are not required by the U.S. government to demonstrate that their products are safe or effective. Ask your health-care provider for advice on selecting a brand.


-- Shari Roan

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