Jul 20, 2009 • By Mike Didcky •
There’s so much talk about treating anxiety with medications like Xanax and Valium but often times something as simple as an amino acid supplement can do the trick. Taurine is an amino acid which plays a major role in the brain as an "inhibitory" neurotransmitter & neuro-modulator and is similiar in structure to the amino acids GABA & L-Glycine, which act to calm or stabilize an excited brain. Taurine acts by regulating the sodium & potassium concentration in the cells & the magnesium level between the cells which all control the electrical activity of the cells & communication between cells. Thus, taurine also has anti-anxiety & anti-convulsant activity; it has also been found useful in some cases of migraine, insomnia, restlessness, irritability, alcoholism, obsessions, depression, hypomania or mania.
The total ideal body pool of taurine for adults is 12,000- 18,000 mg. Something to be aware of: since taurine also affects the hypothalamus to help regulate body temperature, higher doses can decrease your temperature & give a senses of chilliness. Taurine also plays a role in memory & increases the level of a memory neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, in the brain (in animal studies).
Where do you get taurine from? Taurine is highly concentrated in animal & fish protein or organ meats so strict vegetarians can be at risk for taurine deficiency. Your body can make taurine in the liver and brain from the amino acids, L-Cysteine and L-Methionine and the three enzymes involved in the conversion, all need the pyridoxal-5-phosphate form of Vitamin B6 for this conversion. So make sure you take your vitamins if you have anxiety too! Also, females tend toward lower taurine levels than males so it is especially important for the ladies to get proper nutrition. Aim for a proper balance of whole grains, organic vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds and dairy and poultry a few times a week for balanced nutrition.