Taurine is a sulfur-containing amino acid derivative. Unlike typical amino acids, it is not used to synthesize proteins. However, it has a wide variety of roles to play in the horse’s body.
The equine vegetarian diet provides no taurine.
The only dietary sources of taurine are meat/fish, milk or eggs. The horse must synthesize all the taurine needed. This is done from the methionine breakdown product homocysteine or from the amino acid cysteine. As problems with low sulfur levels in soils increase https://wp.me/p2WBdh-qX , levels of these taurine precursors also drop.
Taurine directly interacts with genes and the endoplasmic reticulum where proteins are assembled to support normal metabolism and energy generation.
Taurine is a prime osmolyte, meaning it is a regulator of fluid levels in cells. It is also a critical antioxidant and detoxifier. Taurine is essential for the production of bile in the liver, a major avenue for removal of harmful substances from the body.
Taurine is important for the support of proper nerve transmission and muscle function, and promoting calmness in horses by aiding in balancing levels of excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain. It assists in nerve impulse generation and helps stabilize cell membranes by modifying neurotransmitter uptake. Taurine also helps modulate the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin to maintain normal emotional balance.
Taurine is found in high concentrations in electrically active tissue such as the brain, retina, heart, and muscle. It supports the stability of membranes and assists in the movement of electrolytes including calcium ions in and out of cells, which is critical for proper nerve transmission and muscle contraction. Taurine also normally stabilizes the generation of energy in mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells.
Research in experimental animals has found taurine may even assist the body in normal glucose regulation, insulin excretion and lipid levels in the blood.
All of these things make taurine a vital player in normal mood, metabolism, energy generation and exercise performance.
Eleanor Kellon, VMD