Taurine, a sulfur-containing amino acid, has come to the forefront for its potential support of menopausal women by promoting menopausal comfort and healthy aging. Taurine is one of the most abundant free amino acids in the brain, skeletal, and cardiac muscles. In nature, it is found exclusively in animal-based foods, such as meat, seafood, fish, and milk. Although taurine can be synthesized endogenously from methionine and cysteine, an exogenous supply of taurine through diet or supplementation may be beneficial to meet certain physiological needs.
Taurine has the potential to promote menopausal comfort due to its diverse roles in the body. Human and animal models reveal that taurine supports metabolic, mitochondrial, and cellular health. Moreover, it promotes healthy bile acid conjugation, detoxification, osmoregulation, and neurotransmitter production. A recent research article in Science highlights that serum taurine concentration declines with age in humans and may be associated with age-related conditions.
Regarding metabolic health for healthy aging, a systematic review and meta-analysis of human clinical studies concluded that taurine helps to promote normal insulin production and secretion, which may decrease during menopause. Several hypertensive animal models demonstrate that taurine supplementation helps support centrally and peripherally mediated normal blood pressure through its demonstrated antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. In a double-blind study (n = 24) on women aged 55 to 70, those supplemented with taurine (1.5 g/day) experienced increased antioxidant status, as indicated by higher plasma levels of superoxide dismutase, potentially supporting healthy aging.
Taurine may promote physiological balance during the hormonal and neurotransmission changes that occur during menopause. However, more research is necessary to draw definitive conclusions. Human clinical studies reveal that taurine supports cardiovascular health, potentially helping to compensate for the withdrawal of estrogen during menopause. Estrogen is recognized for its cardioprotective properties.
In vitro studies reveal that taurine can help mitigate excitotoxicity by modulating glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmission and intracellular calcium homeostasis, potentially exerting a calming effect. This may help to compensate for reduced progesterone status during menopause, as progesterone is also a GABA-receptor agonist. Taurine also has an important role in osmoregulation by acting as a mild diuretic, which may help to compensate for the lack of progesterone’s mild diuretic properties during menopause.
Lastly, excess norepinephrine secretion from the adrenals is associated with estrogen fluctuations during menopause and may trigger mild hot flashes. Rodent models demonstrate that taurine may help attenuate norepinephrine's adverse effects.
Considering these potential clinically relevant benefits and the diverse roles of taurine in the body, taurine may promote menopausal comfort and healthy aging. However, more extensive human clinical trials are needed to fully elucidate the role taurine can play during menopause.
By Danielle Moyer, MS, CNS, LDN