Taurine is vegan, as it’s simply an amino acid. Nori is the only vegan food rich in taurine! But, it’s naturally abundant in foods that aren’t vegan.
Vegans and vegetarians can get high amounts of taurine from dietary supplements or energy drinks, though, as they contain its synthetic form.
Also, we can eat certain foods that naturally boost the synthesis of taurine by the body.
Health benefits of taurine
Taurine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the brain, spinal cord, leukocytes, heart, muscle cells, and retina! Also, it supports weight loss and burns belly fat, as it’s involved in energy metabolism.
The daily taurine intake varies greatly, even among people who follow the standard Western diet. It’s between 40 and 400 mg. Most people get less than 100 mg of taurine from food per day, though.
Is taurine vegan?
In fact, taurine is vegan, as it’s simply an amino acid. However, taurine in its natural form isn’t vegan. Only animal-derived foods, such as meat, seafood, dairy, and eggs, are naturally high in taurine.
Plants don’t contain any taurine. Actually, only some types of algae and rare shrubs may contain small amounts of taurine. Certainly, vegans and vegetarians don’t take adequate amounts of taurine from dietary sources.
The human body synthesizes some taurine, though. But, the produced dose isn’t always enough. The synthesis of taurine by the body requires adequate amounts of the essential amino acid methionine and the nonessential amino acid cysteine, as well as vitamin B6.
So, vegans and vegetarians have a high risk of taurine deficiency. So, they could benefit from taking taurine supplements. Synthetic taurine found in dietary supplements and popular energy drinks is actually vegan.
Are there vegan taurine-rich foods?
Common vegan foods don’t contain any taurine. The only vegan food with decent amounts of taurine is Nori. These red algae have about 1,000-1,300 mg of taurine per 100g of dry weight.
A Nori sheet provides about 32 mg of taurine. Hence, 2 Nori sheets provide more than enough taurine for vegans and vegetarians!
Other seaweed and algae are poor dietary sources of taurine, though. Vegans and vegetarians can’t depend on brown or green algae to meet their daily needs for taurine.
Nori has normal levels of iodine. Healthy people can safely consume Nori. Other common algae can be dangerous for health, though. They may contain extremely high doses of iodine.
Is it safe for vegans to get too much taurine from supplements or energy drinks?
The popular energy drink Red Bull has about 1,000 mg of taurine per 250 mL can. This is also a vegan source of taurine, as it’s synthetic.
Most dietary supplements also contain between 500 and 2,000 mg of taurine per capsule.
There hasn’t been established an upper safe dosage for taurine. In fact, many studies have been conducted applying 500-6,000 mg of taurine per day. But, only for a couple of weeks in most cases. The long-term effects of taurine supplementation aren’t well studied.
A daily taurine intake of 3,000 mg is considered pretty safe, though.
So, do vegans and vegetarians should start drinking energy drinks or taking dietary supplements? No, actually.
Energy drinks have too many calories, sugar, and caffeine.
The supplementation of taurine is much healthier. Especially for vegan or vegetarian athletes!
However, above all, vegans and vegetarians should follow a healthy, well-balanced diet that promotes the natural synthesis of taurine by the body!
Vegan foods for increased synthesis of taurine
Vegans and vegetarians should consume lots of foods high in methionine, cysteine, and vitamin B6 in order to help the body synthesize as much taurine as possible.
Vegan foods high in methionine
- beans, such as soy beans, navy beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans.
- nuts and seeds, such as Brazil nuts, pistachios, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and flax seeds.
- soy products, such as tofu and edamame
- whole cereals, such as rice and quinoa.
Vegan foods high in cysteine
- beans, such as lentils, soybeans, chickpeas.
- soy products, such as edamame.
- whole cereals, such as oatmeal.
- nuts and seeds, such as chia seeds, hemp seeds, and sunflower seeds.
Vegan foods high in vitamin B6
- soy products, such as edamame, tempeh, and tofu.
- nuts and seeds, such as pistachios, chestnuts, and sunflower seeds.
- vegetables, such as spinach, peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes.
- fruits, such as avocados, and bananas.
Therefore, following a plant-based well-balanced diet, rich in beans, nuts, seeds, and whole cereal could help vegans and vegetarians have normal levels of taurine.
Furthermore, vegans and vegetarians should regularly eat sunflower seeds. They can boost the synthesis of taurine, as they’re high in methionine, cysteine, and vitamin B6!
Do vegans need taurine supplements?
As a rule of thumb, taurine levels tend to be lower in vegans. Certainly, not all vegans or vegetarians are deficient in taurine. But, vegans have a higher risk of taurine deficiency!
Actually, the body can conserve taurine if it has low concentrations, as less taurine is excreted in the urine. On the contrary, people who have excess taurine in their blood, tend to excrete higher amounts of taurine in the urine.
You’ll find a wide variety of vegan taurine supplements or Nori sheets on iHerb.
In any case, you should consult your healthcare provider before taking taurine supplements.
Also, vegan athletes could benefit from taking creatine supplements. There are no vegan dietary sources for creatine either.
Always consult your healthcare provider before changing your diet or start taking any dietary supplement.