The missing amino acid linked to depression

Taurine is an amino acid naturally produced by the pancreas.

Unlike other amino acids, which are the “building blocks of protein,” taurine has particular functions within the body, one of which is supporting the general function of your central nervous system.

Perhaps there’s a connection between this role and the apparent link between taurine levels and depression that scientists at several Korean research institutions have made…

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Low taurine could mean higher depression risk

Using ultra-high magnetic field 7T human MRI (7T MRI), their study found lower taurine levels in the hippocampus of women (aged 19 to 29) with depression than in those who were not depressed.

The Korean research team plans on looking further into whether there is a causal relationship here, and what that might be.

One possibility they propose is that taurine may be involved in the regulation of other neurotransmitters, such as GABA or serotonin, both of which regulate mood in general, and anxiety in particular.

In fact, previous research has indicated that supplementing taurine can reduce depression-like and anxious behaviors.

Taurine levels drop substantially with age. Specifically in people, the taurine levels in 60-year-olds are only about one-third of the levels in 5-year-olds.

But depression isn’t the only reason to work at keeping your taurine levels up…

Taurine’s importance: now and for the long haul

Dr. Bruce Ames is a highly respected biochemist whose “triage theory” explains why deficiencies — even ones without overt symptoms — could contribute to the aging process.

According to Dr. Ames, nutrition science ignores the fact that most vitamins and minerals are not only needed to maintain our day-to-day health but are also required for processes that impact our long-term health.

One of those is taurine. In addition to nervous system functions, it’s been found to impact immune function, obesity and the building of bone.

When we’re deficient in one of these vitamins, minerals or amino acids used in so many of the body’s processes, the body rations it. And you can guess where it goes: to the processes that ensure immediate survival.

That means that any processes related to longevity get the short end of the stick.

In mice who were supplemented taurine daily, the result was an increase in lifespan — the equivalent of about seven to eight human years.

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How to get more taurine

While taurine appears to play a major role in slowing the aging process in animals, more research is needed to confirm a similar role in humans.

But other studies have shown that taurine may also have a role in boosting heart health, improving glucose metabolism, and supporting a healthy liver. And now it appears it may have a significant impact on mental health.

So there’s no harm in making sure you get enough. Just don’t go over 3000mg a day if you supplement. If you have kidney problems, consult your doctor first.

Supplementing is a good idea if you eat a vegan or vegetarian diet since the main sources of taurine are animal proteins.

Taurine is found in:

  • Tuna
  • Tilapia
  • Scallops
  • Octopus
  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Beef
  • eggs
  • Dairy products

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Taurine Levels in Brain Linked to Depression — Neuroscience News

Association Between Taurine Level in the Hippocampus and Major Depressive Disorder in Young Women: A Proton Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy Study at 7T — Biological Psychiatry

The “triage theory”: micronutrient deficiencies cause insidious damage that accelerates age-associated chronic disease —

Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.