Taurine is a functional amino acid. It is not built into proteins. It is not part of any structure in your body. But, it does good things for you. For example, taurine is the most abundant free amino acid in your heart where it helps it maintain its normal rhythm. I have seen it happen that people who have irregular heartbeats, such as premature contractions, improve from doing a course of taurine. In some cases, the arrythmia went away completely. 

In the brain, taurine supports the inhibitory axis that helps you relax. That’s why it’s often recommended as a sleep aid. However, it doesn’t make you sleepy. You could take it during the day and drive or operate heavy equipment. They even add it to energy drinks because taurine helps with brain signaling, the communication between neurons. But, at night, when you’re lying there in bed, and it’s dark, and everything else is conducive to sleep, it may help you dose off.

Taurine is also the most abundant free amino acid in the retina, where it helps prevent degeneration. The retinal ganglioin cells need taurine to survive. High levels of taurine are also found in the anterior part of the eyes, and it's believed that taurine helps to prevent cataracts

The heart, the brain and the eyes are the big three, but taurine has also been linked to other benefits, such as improving mitochondrial function, fighting metabolic syndrome, improving liver health, enhancing immune function, elevating mood, and more. 

Taurine does not occur in plants. So, anyone who is eating a plant-based diet, strictly, is entirely dependent on internal production of it. The body can make taurine from other sulfur-containing amino acids, such as methionine and cysteine. But, the question is: how well does it do it? Can you get an optimal amount that way? It’s known that vegans who don’t supplement with taurine have lower levels of serum taurine than omnivores.

And it’s not just vegans who are at risk because the best sources of taurine are organ meats, rather than muscle meats. Fish is also a rich source, but a lot of people don’t eat it regularly or at all.  

And when it comes to internal synthesis, we know that all these biological conversions tend to fall off as we age. For instance, people don’t convert ALA to EPA and DHA as well- or at all- when they get older.  They don’t convert the inactive form of Vitamin D to the active form as well. They often don’t convert T4 to T3 as well. And they don’t make Coenzyme Q10 as well either.

I realize that people can’t take every supplement that could potentially help them, not only because it would be too expensive, but also because it would be  too cumbersome. But, taurine is one that I think should make the cut, especially if you eat a mostly or wholly plant-based diet. A subtle taurine deficiency is probably extremely common- affecting millions, and I suspect that it contributes, mightily, to the decrepitude of old age.

So, I take 1000 milligrams of taurine every night before bed. I take it then because it may improve sleep. Since I’m eating a plant-based diet, I don’t get any taurine from my diet, and I do not want to depend on internal synthesis. But, unless you are eating a lot of fish or organ meats, I would recommend taking at least 500 mgs, especially if you are older. Ours is pharmaceutical grade and very pure.