The body's supply of taurine is concentrated primarily in the heart muscle, white blood cells, skeletal muscles, and nervous system. It is a building block of all the other amino acids as well as a key factor in the production of bile. Adequate levels of bile are needed for the proper digestion of fats, absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and the regulation of cholesterol. Any dysfunction in these areas suggests taurine deficiency.
Taurine is vital for the proper utilization of sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium, and is instrumental in preventing potassium loss from the heart. Taurine deficiency is often paired with zinc deficiency, and may be used with zinc as treatment for breast cancer. Diabetes increases the body's requirement for taurine, and supplementation with taurine and another amino acid, cystine, may decrease the need for insulin.
Taurine is protective of the brain, and is often used to treat anxiety, epilepsy, and seizures. Children's brains have four times the amount of taurine found in the brains of adults, making it an ideal treatment for children with hyperactivity. It may also benefit children with Down syndrome and muscular dystrophy.