Is taurine good for babies?

When we talk about energy drinks, one of the ingredients well recognized is taurine. Usage of taurine in those drinks makes us assume it gives a boost of energy and instant fix in relieving tiredness. So often taurine in products available in the market is made to cater for adults and athletes. However, taurine is also important for babies. If someone asks if taurine is good for babies, it is a definite yes!

       Taurine is a type of amino acid that exists in many cells of the human. While taurine is labelled “conditional essential” as it does not produce protein, it is responsible for maintaining most of body function such as brain, heart and muscle.  In adults, the body is able to synthesise or produce taurine through the process in the liver but babies mostly rely on the mother either through placenta or breast milk for taurine.

       Taurine is high in the mother’s placenta and breast milk. During pregnancy, the placenta provides nutrition for the embryo and foetus to grow. The level of taurine gained by the pregnant mother through her daily diet is reflected in the foetus. Low level of taurine in the mother will cause the foetus unable to grow perfectly.  Taurine has been shown to be important in the foetus as it helps in development of the retina in the eye layer of cells responsible in eyesight and sensitive to light) and the brain. Aside from taurine intake by the mother, the level of taurine received by the foetus can be affected by obesity and episodes of preeclampsia. Obesity and pre-eclampsia initiate a stress response in the mother’s body causing the transportation of taurine via placenta to the foetus is compromised.

       Breast milk has been known as the best source of nutrients for babies.  The exclusive period of 6 months early breastfeeding is essential for the baby to gain the maximal benefits of breast milk. Therefore, high levels of taurine in breast milk significantly benefits the baby along with other important growth and development factors in the milk. Studies among babies with low levels of taurine or not getting enough breast milk, shows signs of growth problems such as small in size or low in weight and disturbance of normal brain functions. Low birth weight has been proposed to be the precursor for development of chronic illness in adulthood such as coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension and adult-onset diabetes.

       Another function of taurine for babies is to improve gut health. In the gut, there are many good microorganisms and bacteria that live naturally. Good maternal gut health during pregnancy will lead to a healthy gut health of the baby. Taurine helps the microorganisms to protect the gut by inhibiting bad pathogens from further infecting the baby and building resistance to any pathogen that harms the body.  Balance of the gut bacteria is essential for a healthy gut.

       Most infant milk formulas in the market are fortified with taurine to match the same nutrition value as the breast milk. It is true that no man made can match what nature has offered. Even though there are many attempts to perfect milk formulas that are exactly the same as breast milk, it is impossible to replicate the exact same benefits of breast milk.

       Taurine is indeed important for a baby to grow healthy by supporting development and growth. Good levels of taurine in the baby are affected by the condition in the womb and afterbirth. Taurine can greatly impact the baby’s health in adulthood. Thus, it is important for babies to get enough taurine for better health in the short run and in the long run.