Let's consider the role of a non-essential amino acid called Taurine. It was coined a non-essential amino acid because your body can produce tiny amounts in your liver but your requirements change over your lifetime and the small amount produced by the conversion of cysteine often isn’t enough.
There are 3 reasons why you may have an increased need for Taurine at the moment.
The first 2 points are for the same reason. In peri-menopause your ovulation becomes irregular and if you don’t ovulate you don’t get your normal production of progesterone and this leaves you with unopposed estrogen. So whether it high estrogen or low progesterone we can agree the ratio between these 2 hormones has changed and you are left with an estrogen dominant type effect. The same problem can occur if you are taking Menopause Hormone Therapy without progesterone. Taurine is synthesized from cysteine, but cysteine can do many things like produce glutathione, be incorporated into proteins, go down the oxidation pathway, or form taurine. When we are in the estrogen dominant state, this blocks the taurine production pathway and favors one of the other routes. Making dietary sources or supplements more important at this stage of life.
This comes to our 3rd issue. Vegetarian or Vegan diets lack taurine, this is because ALL dietary sources are found in animal products. Seafood, chicken, pork, meat, and eggs are good sources.
If you are estrogen dominant and vegan please consider speaking to your health care provider about adding taurine into the mix as you are at greatest need for it because it's not in your diet and your body can’t synthesis it while being estrogen dominant state.
So why is taurine so important?
Taurine is the most abundant amino acid found in your body especially in your liver, kidney (both key detoxification organs), muscles, and brain.
Let's look at a few examples of how taurine can be beneficial to your health
Brain health - every region of the brain uptakes taurine. Taurine accounts for about 19% of the total free amino acid pool in your brain. It has neuroprotective benefits that also calm both the brain and your nervous system. This calming effect may help reduce any hyperactivity symptoms you have and help improve focus, attention, wakefulness, reaction speed, and your moods in general.
Due to its calming effects on your nervous system, most women find it also improves their sleep quality and quantity.
Heart health - taurine represents about 53% of the total free amino acid pool in your heart and other muscles. It is officially recognized as a treatment option for congestive heart failure, potentially by improving left ventilation function. It may help reduce blood pressure and blood lipid readings especially total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Liver health - it represents about 25% of the free amino acid pool of the liver. It may help promote healthy estrogen metabolizing, may prevent gallstones, and plays a key role in the formation of beneficial bile salts.
Energy - taurine may improve mitochondrial health by stabilizing the electron transport chain and inhibiting the production of reactive oxygen species. Healthy mitochondrial function is a necessity for good energy production.
Eye health - all ocular tissues contain taurine and it is the most abundant amino acid found here. Deficiency is linked with changes in the structure and function of the eye, whereas adequate amounts of taurine play a role in preventing age-related disease and dysfunction.
In regard to blood sugar regulation, taurine plays an important role in reducing insulin resistance and reducing the risk of diabetes. It can also be considered as an adjunctive treatment to help stabilize blood sugar levels for women with diabetes.
Muscle health - taurine is again the most abundant amino acid found here. If it is deficient it increases sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is the loss of muscle mass and function. Inadequate taurine levels also increase the severity and frequency of muscle cramps. When your muscles have adequate taurine this increases your exercise capacity by increasing the time to exhaustion, and it also increases muscle strength.
Anemia is quite often seen in perimenopausal women especially those with a vegetarian diet. Taurine taken alongside iron may help improve hemoglobin concentration, red blood cell count, and serum ferritin levels.
It may reduce hormonal migraines by improving detoxification and removal of excess estrogen.
May modulate your genes to induce longevity.
Some practitioners use doses between 2-6 grams, but take it in divided doses throughout the day. Personally, if I’m prescribing taurine I tend to start on a 1/4 of the dose and build slowly over time, as taurine is a sulfur-containing amino acid, a small percentage of women may find they react to it and this is generally overcome by starting low and increasing slowly over time. Most women have no issues at all with it but it’s still best to discuss this with your health care practitioner to determine the best dose for your individual case.
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