Taurine is a sulphur-containing amino acid found naturally in egg whites, meat, fish and milk. High concentrations are found in the heart muscle, white blood cells, skeletal muscle and central nervous system.
In the retina there are two binding proteins specific to Taurine; and intracellular concentrations are higher in the retina than in any other region derived from the central nervous system.
Taurine plays a role in the process of rhodopsin regeneration necessary for night vision. It is essential to the retinal pigment epithelium and the photoreceptors (cells that we see with) where it is found at levels ten times higher than other free amino acids. Taurine helps protect cell membranes from oxidative attack. It helps transport nutrients across cell membranes, acts as a catalyst to retinal cells that remove cellular debris and assists in the elimination of potentially toxic substances. Taurine in combination with retinol protects lipids twice as much as retinol alone. Taurine protects rod outer segment lipids during exposure to cyclic light.
Diabetes increases the retinas requirements for Taurine. Glucose rapidly and specifically decreases Taurine content in retinal pigment epithelial cells. Uptake of Taurine is Increased in the retina and retinal pigment epithelium with higher levels of Insulin and glucose concentrations. Taurine also appears to protect the lens against the development of ‘sugar cataracts’ by an antioxidant effect.
A deficiency state of Taurine is often associated with an imbalance in intestinal flora. This condition, dysbiosis, is commonly called ‘leaky gut’ and inhibits Taurine absorption. Lowered levels of Taurine may also be associated with cardiac arrhythmias, disorders of platelet formation, an overgrowth of candida, physical or emotional stress, a zinc deficiency, and excessive consumption of alcohol.
It is also Important to note that the drugs thlorpromazine, a tranquilizer, and chioroquine an antimalarial/anti-inflammatory agent, inhibit the uptake of Taurine and have been known to cause retinal damage with prolonged or excessive dosage.
Taurine is available in a sublingual spray, which is 10 times better absorbed than tablets or capsules.