Amino acid taurine may help with blood sugar control, but more human research is needed.
Taurine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the human body. Taurine supplements have been suggested to help control blood sugar by:
- Protecting beta cells. Taurine’s antioxidant effects may help protect insulin-producing beta cells.
- Supporting insulin. Taurine appears to directly stimulate insulin release, and may also improve insulin sensitivity.
Taurine is an amino acid-like compound found in virtually all parts of the human body. It is considered a semi-essential amino acid because the body can produce it from other compounds such as methionine. In addition, taurine is abundant in meat and seafood.
Taurine participates in many important processes, such as bile acid formation, acting as an antioxidant, stabilizing cell membranes, eye (retina) and brain function. Thanks to these wide-ranging effects, taurine is used in a variety of dietary supplements, including pre-workouts, energy boosters, vision enhancers, and nootropics.
In addition, some people use taurine as an anti-diabetic supplement because early research indicates that it can reduce the oxidative stress involved in diabetes and its complications. In addition, there is some evidence that taurine may help regulate diabetic blood sugar issues.
Foods High in Taurine
|Food||Method of Preparation||Mean Taurine Content mg/100g|
|Chicken dark meat||Raw||82.6|
|Chicken light meat||Raw||17.5|
|Turkey dark meat||Raw||306|
|Turkey light meat||Raw||29.5|
|Lamb dark meat||Raw||43.8|
|Salami, cotto beef||Cured||59.2|
How Taurine Might Help With Blood Sugar
Researchers are not yet entirely sure how taurine helps with diabetes and related blood sugar issues. Potential mechanisms include:<
Protecting beta cells
Oxidative stress is known to play a major role in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes; for example, it can cause damage to insulin-producing beta cells, resulting in reduced insulin production and secretion. As a potent antioxidant, taurine may help protect these cells from this oxidative damage. 1<
Supporting insulin activity
Some studies have shown that taurine can improve insulin release and sensitivity, ultimately resulting in improved blood sugar control and reduction of hyperglycemia. For example, one cell culture study showed that taurine directly promotes insulin release from beta cells.2 Another study showed that taurine interacts with kinins, substances which influence both insulin release and action. 3<
Taurine Uses & Benefits for Blood Sugar
Taurine supplements are sometimes used by individuals with hyperglycemia, prediabetes, and type 2 diabetes to help lower their blood sugar levels.
There is a good deal of animal and cell culture research supporting these blood sugar benefits, with studies showing that taurine improves hyperglycemia, insulin resistance, and insulin release. In addition, observational studies have reported that diabetics tend to have lower taurine levels than healthy individuals, suggesting a possible link.
However, these promising findings have yet to be seriously explored in human research, with only a handful of clinical trials that report mixed, inconclusive results. The bottom line is that taurine has potential as a blood sugar-lowering supplement, but it’s too early to say anything conclusive.
Animal studies of taurine indicate hypoglycemic effects and improved blood sugar control in animals with diabetes or obesity. Specific findings indicate that:
- Taurine may improve glucose control and beta cell function in obese mice 5
- Taurine alleviates hyperglycemia by improving insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetic rats 6
- Taurine improves hyperglycemia in type 1 diabetic rats and rabbits 7 8 9
- Taurine improves hyperglycemia and glucose uptake in rats with insulin resistance 10 11
Human studies of taurine suggest a possible link between reduced levels of this nutrient and the development of diabetes. On the other hand, studies of taurine supplementation for blood sugar management report mixed findings, with some positive and some negative results.
This randomized study was one of the first investigations on the effects of taurine on blood sugar in humans. For 48 hours, the researchers gave 6 overweight/obese, non-diabetic men an infusion of saline (control group), lipids, or lipids plus 2 weeks pretreatment with taurine (3 g daily). The lipid injection was meant to mimic the negative effects of diabetes and metabolic syndrome on insulin.
Taurine was found to improve insulin resistance and the function of insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas, effects which could improve blood sugar control.
- The researchers concluded that “Oral TAU ameliorates lipid-induced functional beta cell decompensation and insulin resistance in humans, possibly by reducing oxidative stress.” 12
This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study evaluated the effects of taurine on insulin in people at risk of type 2 diabetes. A total of 20 overweight participants were given placebo or taurine (1.5 g) daily for 8 weeks, and later switched groups so that everyone tried both treatments. Although blood taurine levels increased, this were was no difference between the two treatments on insulin release or activity.
- The researchers concluded that “Daily supplementation with 1.5 g taurine for 8 weeks had no effect on insulin secretion or sensitivity, or on blood lipid levels.” 13
This study compared the taurine levels of people with type 2 diabetes and healthy individuals. The researchers evaluated the taurine levels of 39 diabetics and 34 healthy adults matched for similar age, sex, and other characteristics. They discovered that diabetics had lower taurine levels, and that supplementation increased taurine to the levels found in healthy individuals.
- The researchers concluded that “After oral supplementation, both plasma and platelet taurine concentrations increased significantly in the diabetic patients, reaching the mean values of healthy control subjects.” 14
Dosage for Blood Sugarl>
Supplements in Review Recommendationl>
We recommend giving taurine a try for blood sugar control. Although there is a lack of clinical research to strongly recommend taurine, there is enough evidence to warrant giving it a try for lowering blood glucose levels.
Dosages of 1-3 g are best. We recommend starting with 1 g taurine, assessing the effects, and moving up to daily dosages of up to 3 g – the only dosage successfully used in a human study of blood sugar management.
- Gavrovskaya LK et al. Protective effect of taurine on rats with experimental insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Bull Exp Biol Med. 2008 Aug;146(2):226-8. ↩
- William J L’Amoreaux et al. Taurine regulates insulin release from pancreatic beta cell lines. J Biomed Sci. 2010; 17(Suppl 1): S11. ↩
- Nandhini AT and Anuradha CV. Taurine modulates kallikrein activity and glucose metabolism in insulin resistant rats. Amino Acids. 2002;22(1):27-38. ↩
- Takashi Ito et al. The potential usefulness of taurine on diabetes mellitus and its complications. Amino Acids. 2012 May; 42(5): 1529–1539. ↩
- Santos-Silva JC et al. Taurine supplementation ameliorates glucose homeostasis, prevents insulin and glucagon hypersecretion, and controls β, α, and δ-cell masses in genetic obese mice. Amino Acids. 2015 Aug;47(8):1533-48. ↩
- Kyoung Soo Kim et al. Taurine ameliorates hyperglycemia and dyslipidemia by reducing insulin resistance and leptin level in Otsuka Long-Evans Tokushima fatty (OLETF) rats with long-term diabetes. Exp Mol Med. 2012 Nov 30; 44(11): 665–673. ↩
- Alvarado-Vásquez N et al. Effect of glycine in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. Comp Biochem Physiol C Toxicol Pharmacol. 2003 Apr;134(4):521-7. ↩
- Tenner TE Jr et al. Hypoglycemic effects of taurine in the alloxan-treated rabbit, a model for type 1 diabetes. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2003;526:97-104. ↩
- Winiarska K et al. Hypoglycaemic, antioxidative and nephroprotective effects of taurine in alloxan diabetic rabbits. Biochimie. 2009 Feb;91(2):261-70. ↩
- Nandhini AT et al. Effect of taurine on biomarkers of oxidative stress in tissues of fructose-fed insulin-resistant rats. Singapore Med J. 2005 Feb;46(2):82-7. ↩
- El Mesallamy HO et al. Effect of taurine supplementation on hyperhomocysteinemia and markers of oxidative stress in high fructose diet induced insulin resistance. Diabetol Metab Syndr. 2010 Jun 30;2:46. ↩
- Xiao C et al. Oral taurine but not N-acetylcysteine ameliorates NEFA-induced impairment in insulin sensitivity and beta cell function in obese and overweight, non-diabetic men. Diabetologia. 2008 Jan;51(1):139-46. Epub 2007 Nov 17. ↩
- Brøns C et al. Effect of taurine treatment on insulin secretion and action, and on serum lipid levels in overweight men with a genetic predisposition for type II diabetes mellitus. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 Sep;58(9):1239-47. ↩
- Franconi F et al. Plasma and platelet taurine are reduced in subjects with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus: effects of taurine supplementation. Am J Clin Nutr. 1995 May;61(5):1115-9. ↩