Tag Archives: taurine

Amino Acid Taurine Prevents Diabetic Kidney Disease

More evidence on the preventive effect of the amino acid taurine. S Lin, J Yang et al, from Shenyang Agricultural University, China, published some great news for diabetics. They developed an animal study to test the preventive effect of taurine on the kidney disease known as diabetic nephropathy. This may be the light at the end of the tunnel for many diabetics.

Taurine is known to have some preventive effects on type 2 diabetes and its complications, but can it also prevent the kidney disease diabetic nephropathy? Rates of type 2 diabetes have risen over the past few decades, just as obesity rates have increased. This is no coincidence, as obesity is one of the main risk factors for developing diabetes.

Diabetic nephropathy is caused by longstanding diabetes. It’s a disease of the blood vessels in the kidneys. It’s one of the most difficult diabetic complications to treat, and can lead to chronic renal failure. Kidney dialysis is often the only possible treatment, and even then diabetic patients are 17 times more likely to die of renal failure than non-diabetic patients.

Preventing the kidney disease diabetic nephropathy is therefore a very urgent issue.

Can the amino acid taurine prevent diabetic kidney disease?

The amino acid taurine is the building block of all the other amino acids. It’s the most abundant amino acid in our bodies, and has some preventive and even curative effects on diabetes. The researchers in this trial tested its effects on diabetic rats.

One hundred and ten rats were given various concentrations of taurine for the ten week trial, and their blood was tested for blood glucose, cholesterol, and lipid metabolism.

High blood glucose results in many diabetic complications, as nerve endings and small blood vessels are damaged.  Taurine was shown to decrease blood glucose.

Lipid metabolism disorder is another complication of diabetes. Great news: results indicated that taurine significantly decreased blood fat, and improved lipid metabolism.

The preventive effects of taurine were proven in this trial. Blood glucose was decreased, lipid metabolism improved, and kidney function increased. This gives very positive hopes for taurine to be used in more treatments for diabetes.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20804623

Is Taurine in Energy Drinks Safe? Maybe…

There is a lot of energy in the media and within consumers about the health benefits as well as dangers of energy beverages, including some warnings about the amino acid taurine in energy drinks, but is taurine safe? How much is okay versus too much? Are there any health implications or hidden issues with the taurine in energy drinks?

According to Dr. Oz, says the Herald Tribune, the number of visits to the emergency room have doubled in the last four years, and hit more than 20,000 in the year 2011. But are these super-charger energy drinks really to blame for some of the cardiac issues that some people have or are claiming? Is the taurine in energy drinks, or the caffeine, or sugar, or other supplements added to these beverages the cause of these heart issues?

How taurine in energy drinks affects your heart

In one study mentioned by the article mentioned above, which measured how 18 peoples’ (15 men, 3 women, around age 27) hearts reacted about an hour after consuming taurine in energy drinks (16 oz), the MRI showed a “significantly increased peak systolic strain” in the left ventricle of the heart.

Although black coffee or even caffeinated water was suggested (one might also consider green tea or white tea due to the enormous health benefits, since it also contains caffeine); however, real energy can come from 5-9 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables, eaten raw, steamed, or even made into smoothies. Plus raw foods are packed with enzymes, anti-oxidants, and other vitamins and minerals.

Do we really need taurine in energy drinks?

If the amino acid taurine in energy drinks may keep your left heart ventricle contracting too severely, sometimes causing palpitations, anxiety attacks, or other cardiac related issues, then is it really wise to consume them? Energy drinks may only say they have “amino acids” but they also may have creatine, lecithin, phenylalanine, tyrosine, choline, citicoline, plus taurine, of course.

Additionally, some of the main ingredients in energy or power drinks include: caffeine, glucuronolactone, guarana, B vitamins, ginseng, l-carnitine, ginkgo biloba, sugars, antioxidants, as well as trace minerals. According to one study even coaches have to advise their athletes about taking energy drinks because of the effects and risks associated with consuming them, even after exercise.

Overall the ingredients may be natural, or commonly found in food (amino acids, for instance, are in protein foods such as meat (beef, chicken, pork, etc.), eggs, and fish. However, a combined effect of all of these ingredients may have some serious health consequences if consumed regularly, or especially in excess.

Adverse effects of taurine in energy drinks or their other ingredients can include: restlessness, heart palpitations, irritability, anxiety, nervousness, dehydration, and increase blood pressure. Long term effects have not been established. Those with heart disease or cardiac issues, or children, should probably avoid taurine in energy drinks, or power beverages in general.

Positive information on taurine

Taurine, in and of itself, is an amino acid that the body needs for neurological development, and for regulating water levels and mineral salts within the blood. Taurine also has antioxidants, is found in breast milk, and can be purchased as a dietary supplement.

People with congestive heart failure who took taurine supplements 3x/day (for two weeks) did show an improvement in their capacity to exercise. Up to 3,000 mg of taurine per day is considered safe. Of course, these people were taking supplements, not drinking energy beverages.

Most people can consume up to 16 oz. (500 milliliters) in energy drinks per day and still feel good, although the sugars are high and so these things need to be weighed out in terms of what is actually healthy for the human body.

References:

http://health.heraldtribune.com/2014/01/07/dr-oz-avoid-energy-drinks-with-amino-acids-on-the-label/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2966367/
http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/taurine/faq-20058177

Amino Acids Among Anti-Aging Bio-Molecules

Amino acids are among a number of specific types of bio-molecules that help restrict the aging process. Antiaging creams and lotions and supplements are only a few ways to deal with wrinkles and skin issues from a topical advantage, but what about the rest of the body? Anti-aging mechanisms, healing and immunity, skin (our largest organ), and other biological processes require an internal process at the cellular level for really slowing the aging process.

A review by P Dabhade and S Kotwal from the University Department of Biochemistry, RTM Nagpur University, in India wrote a publication titled: Tackling the aging process with bio-molecules: a possible role for caloric restriction, food-derived nutrients, vitamins, amino acids, peptides, and minerals.

The researchers said that “Aging is a multifactorial process leading to general deterioration in many tissues and organs, accompanied by an increased incidence and severity of a wide variety of chronic, incurable, and often fatal diseases” and that these therapies “include potential dietary interventions, adherence to nutrition, hormonal and cell-based therapies, genetic manipulations, and anti-aging supplements or nutrients.” Amino acids are among them.

Amino acids help with anti-aging at the cellular level

True healing comes from within, and the anti-aging process is no different. The body regenerates at the cellular level, so aiding the body in fundamental ways is crucial to keeping the body youthful. This can mean environmental changes we can control, like one’s diet, includes eating nutrient-rich foods (many people also claim their skin was the most obvious change they noticed when they ate a raw vegan diet because the skin hydrates from underneath).

Among the supplements and nutrients that are listed for anti-aging processes includes, vitamins, minerals, peptides, as well as amino acids. Protein foods like meats can provide all 22 amino acids since aminos are the building blocks of protein. Eating whey protein and eggs provide essential amino acids to the body, but extending the lifespan can get more detailed. The researchers who published the review named above focused mainly on these strategies for slowing down the aging process: caloric restriction, good food, and nutritional supplements, among which include amino acids.

Amino acids that are specifically good for anti-aging

Some of the amino acids below serve specific functions in the body:

Taurine helps repair muscle tissue, which tends to wane in the elderly

Creatine is produced by L-arginine and methionine, which come from carnitine, and help produce healthy skin.

L-arginine also helps reduce inflammation and erectile dysfunction (ED), and serves as a metabolism booster.

L-carnitine and carnosine help support cardiovascular health– carnitine helps with skin health, weight management, and energy, plus reduces peripheral vascular disease symptoms and heart angina, while carnosine lowers cholesterol and also reduces the risk of atherosclerosis.

L-glutamine stores sugar as glycogen instead of fat in the body, and is important for skin health.

Cysteine is a powerful detoxifier and required along with glutamine and glycine in order to make glutathione. The Washington Times called the amino acid glutathione an anti-aging machine!

Aging is progressive, irreversible, and a universal human phenomenon. Utilizing amino acids and other supplements may help protect against damage to molecules such as proteins, DNA, lipids, organs, and our cells protects against diseases like heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and osteoporosis.

Taking amino acids, among other supplements, and eating a healthy diet aids cellular mechanisms and may help you live longer. Please check with your doctor before taking any supplements.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23451844

http://www.studymode.com/essays/Submission-619316.html

http://aminoacidinformation.com/?s=anti-aging

Taurine for CHF – Congestive Heart Failure

Evidence is showing that taurine may help congestive heart failure (CHF). Taurine, a sulphur-containing amino acid is found in the tissues of mammals. Although the body can synthesize taurine, most often it is obtained through diet; in particular, protein foods such as meats, eggs, and fish. It is known to act as an antioxidant, helps lower blood pressure, and may help with cardiovascular health problems like: congestive heart failure, ischemic heart disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension, and diabetic cardiomyopathy. Although double-blind long-term trials are not commonly found, it is often recommended as a treatment and prevention of cardiovascular disease.

Taurine can be synthesized from cysteine and methionine amino acids when in the presence of vitamin B6, but also is obtained through the diet. Taurine is found in high concentrations in the retina as well as the heart. This could be one of the reasons why taurine can help with congestive heart failure (CHF), due to its role within the heart muscle itself.

Congestive heart failure

For the age group of 60+ CHF is the leading cause of both hospitalization and death. Sudden death can occur due to irregular heartbeat or cardiac arrhythmia in over fifty percent of people with CHF. Congestive heart failure is not like a heart attack (sudden tissue death) since CHF is a progressive disease. It can cause shortness of breath, fatigue, increased nighttime urination, and progress to a worsening stage over time.

Left-sided failure of the heart is most common in those with CHF. It leads to limited oxygen to the bloodstream and therefore the body (pulmonary edema). For right-sided failure of the heart it causes increased pressure within the veins, retention of water and sodium, and leads to accumulation of fluid as well as swelling of the liver, abdomen, and legs. Sometimes both left-and-right-sided failure happens together.

So how does taurine affect CHF in a positive way?

Taurine and CHF

Taurine supplements can often be taken as a medicine because of its beneficial health effects in treating congestive heart failure (CHF), as well as liver disease, to help reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure, and cystic fibrosis, among other health issues. Because it is an antioxidant it also protects cells from damage due to oxidation (chemical reactions with oxygen). Excess taurine is usually excreted by the kidneys.

Scientists are still not sure why taurine helps CHF entirely, but some evidence suggests that it improves functioning within the left ventricle (chamber) of the heart. Taurine may also improve circumstances in a heart failure situation since it helps lower blood pressure, plus calms the sympathetic nervous system.

The sympathetic nervous system can often be overactive in people who have CHF and high blood pressure. The sympathetic nervous system responds to the stress and is responsible for the flight-or-fight response and stimulating other bodily activities in times of stress. Both the sympathetic nervous system (flight-or-fight) and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest-and-digest) and the enteric system (gastrointestinal) are the three parts of the autonomic nervous system (ANS).

Taurine may help with the calming of stress-related activities of the sympathetic nervous system, lower blood pressure, and help improve heart functioning in patients with congestive heart failure. Please check with your doctor as to any taurine supplements and the dosage that you can take if you have CHF.

References:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2586397/

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/heart_vascular_institute/conditions_treatments/conditions/congestive_heart_failure.html

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1024-TAURINE.aspx?activeIngredientId=1024&activeIngredientName=TAURINE

Amino Acids: Taurine Essential For Brain Development

An interesting study of human brain cells highlights the crucial role the amino acid taurine has on the development of our brains. This amino acid is vital for optimal development of newborn and infant brains.

Taurine is an important inhibitory neurotransmitter. It’s essential for our cardiovascular function, and the development and function of our central nervous system. Every human needs taurine, adults and babies. Adults metabolize taurine from cysteine, using vitamin B6. High levels of B6 are found in shellfish, such as oysters and clams. It’s also present in meat and fish proteins.

Newborns get their taurine from breast milk, and taurine has been added to many infant formulas.

The role of taurine for optimal brain development has been studied in animal trials. Taurine increases the proliferation of neural stem cells in embryonic and adult rodent brains. But what about humans?

Researchers Hernández-Benítez R, Vangipuram SD, et al, from the Instituto de Fisiología Celular, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, Mexico, developed a study of taurine’s effect on cell numbers in human neural precursor cells, which are stem cells.

Neural precursor cells can become neurons (nerve cells), and can also become the two other main cell types in the nervous system. They can also be cultured in the laboratory, so have great potential for a variety of transplant treatments.

Effect of Taurine on human brain development

The researchers in this human cell study used neural precursor cells from three fetal brains (14-15 weeks of gestation). The cells were cultured, and then tested with taurine. After four days of culture, taurine induced an impressive increase of neural precursor cells: an increase of up to 188%. Taurine also dramatically increased the percentage of neurons formed: up to 480% in the best case.

These results show the positive effect taurine has on the formation and development of the brain.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23466467

Taurine Supplements Prevent Diabetes In Animal Study

An animal study into taurine supplementation found that the amino acid delayed the onset of autoimmune diabetes in non-obese diabetic mice. Could this result in preventive treatments for humans?

Autoimmune diabetes is slow-onset Type 1 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is caused by an immune system malfunction, where the autoimmune system destroys insulin-producing cells in the pancreas.

Insulin is a hormone which regulates blood sugar. If the pancreas no longer produces insulin, blood sugar will spike. If untreated, this Type 1 Diabetes is fatal. However, the disease is controllable with insulin injections, or an insulin pump. In some cases, a pancreas transplant is possible.

A Canadian study, developed by researchers E Arany, B Strutt, et al, from Lawson Health Research Institute, St. Joseph’s Health Care, London, Ontario, investigated whether supplements of the amino acid taurine would inhibit the development of diabetes in the offspring of diabetic mice.

Taurine and the pancreas

Taurine is vital to the development of the pancreas, which in turn leads to the production of insulin, which regulates blood sugar. Taurine is produced in our bodies from cysteine and vitamin B6. We can also get taurine from our food, particularly seafood and meat, though we probably don’t need to unless we are deficient in cysteine or B6. Newborns, however, do not produce taurine and must get it from breast milk, or infant formula.

The results of the study on taurine

Two groups of pregnant, diabetic mice were tested in the Canadian study. Their offspring would naturally be diabetic, too. The mice were given taurine supplements throughout their pregnancy, and until the offspring were weaned. A control group was given no taurine. The animals were monitored until they became diabetic.

Taurine supplements reduced the onset of diabetes in the mice, delaying the onset of the disease. The onset was delayed from 18 to 30 weeks, with 20% of taurine-treated mice remaining diabetes free after an entire year.

This animal study concluded that taurine supplements in early life effectively delayed the onset of diabetes.

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Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15502919

Can Taurine Protect The Liver From Environmental Damage And Disease?

A Japanese study has shown that treatment with taurine can protect against xenobiotics-induced liver damages. Could this lead to a new treatment for cirrhosis and other forms of liver disease?

There are over 100 forms of liver disease, some of which lead to cirrhosis. Cirrhosis, a condition where the liver is permanently damaged by scarring, is the end form of many liver diseases.  The damaged cirrhotic liver can’t remove toxins, which accumulate in the blood and can lead to death. The overall mortality rate for drug-induced liver injury is about 5%.

Some liver diseases, including cirrhosis, are caused by xenobiotics, which are drugs and environmental chemicals. Such drugs can include acetaminophen, a very common pain reliever found in paracetamol. The risk is much higher in illegal drugs synthesized from bromobenzene, such as PCP.

The liver is particularly prone to xenobiotics-induced injury because of its role in filtering and removing toxins.

Can the liver be protected by taurine?

A study by T Miyazaki and Y Matsuzaki, from Tokyo Medical University, Japan, investigated the protective effects of the amino acid taurine.

Taurine has many functions, and is present in most of our tissues. It’s found throughout our bodies, particularly in our central nervous system, skeletal muscle, heart, and liver.

We produce taurine from food, especially foods high in B6, such as seafood. Taurine is biosynthesized in the liver. It has even been shown to prevent liver disease and cirrhosis in rats.

Taurine affects human livers, too. People with liver disease often have low levels of taurine in their hepatic system. And serious liver damages were observed in the pericentral region of the liver in patients with severely depleted liver taurine levels.

The study showed that taurine treatment was a useful agent for xenobiotics-induced liver damages.

The risk for developing xenobiotics-induced injury will be greatly reduced if people ensure they follow all directions on packages, follow guidelines for safe alcohol consumption, and avoid illegal drugs.

Sources:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22918604

Table of Amino Acid Abbreviations

Students and teachers come together with terms like “Amino acid abbreviations” – but scientists use these abbreviated forms to refer to the 20+ names of amino acids as well.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and they can be gotten from food. Before we get into the amino acid abbreviations you may want to know that there are two main types of amino acids (with a few exceptions)…

Essential and Non-essential amino acids

Essential amino acids does not mean they are “essential” as in necessary… it simply means that they can only be gotten from the food you eat so must be included through diet or dietary supplementation. Protein foods like meats (beef, chicken, pork, etc.) and eggs, as well as fish, are excellent sources of amino acids. Many meat-eating Americans actually eat an overabundance of protein compared with what the human body requires, which can lead to acidity (which leads to disease), cardiovascular and other diseases.

Non-essential amino acids are those that your body can produce naturally. Occasionally, someone is born with a deficiency in their body’s ability to produce the amino acids necessary for proper functioning, leading to diseases or disorders where people have trouble breaking down certain amino acids. An example of the latter is Maple Syrup Urine Disorder (MSUD) which is what newborn babies are screened for soon after birth.

There are 22 different amino acids in all (some of them semi-essential), but about 20 of them are more common. Their names, 3-letter, and 1-letter amino acid abbreviations follow.

Table of amino acid abbreviations

Amino Acid

3-Letter

1-Letter

Alanine

Ala

A

Arginine

Arg

R

Asparagine

Asn

N

Aspartic acid

Asp

D

Cysteine

Cys

C

Glutamic acid

Glu

E

Glutamine

Gln

Q

Glycine

Gly

G

Histidine

His

H

Isoleucine

Ile

I

Leucine

Leu

L

Lysine

Lys

K

Methionine

Met

M

Phenylalanine

Phe

F

Proline

Pro

P

Serine

Ser

S

Threonine

Thr

T

Tryptophan

Trp

W

Tyrosine

Tyr

Y

Valine

Val

V

Aspartic acid or Asparagine

Asx

B

Any amino acid

Xaa

X

Termination codon

TERM

For more information on amino acid abbreviations or more detailed information on amino acids in general, please see other articles at the Amino Acid Information Center. There are also many excellent resources on the Internet or in encyclopedias.

Reference:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/Class/MLACourse/Modules/MolBioReview/iupac_aa_abbreviations.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amino_acid#In_human_nutrition

http://www.newbornscreening.info/Parents/aminoaciddisorders/MSUD.html

Can Autistic Children Benefit From Glutathione Supplements?

Autism is a developmental disorder that is characterized by failure to relate to others, impairment in communication, intolerance of change, and repetitive and ritualistic behaviour. Some studies have shown that individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder also have comparatively lower glutathione levels than the average developing child — about 20 to 40% lower. Also, their levels of oxidized glutathione are higher.

In a study conducted by Genetic Consultants of Dallas in Texas, researchers Janet Kern, David Geier, James Adams, Carolyn Garver, Tapan Audhya and Mark Geier tested whether glutathione supplements would benefit transsulfuration metabolites in autistic children.

Studies have shown that children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder have irregularities in transsulfuration metabolites, which affects the production of glutathione. The researchers hope that by examining the effects of two commonly used supplements for autism, transdermal glutathione and oral glutathione,that their results would lead to a better comprehension of treatment in increasing glutathione levels.

Glutathione is a tripeptide that is made up of amino acids glycine, cysteine and glutamic acid. A few of its many functions is DNA and protein synthesis and repair, transport of amino acids, and enzyme regulation. Because of it’s antioxidant properties, glutathione can prevent peroxides and free radicals from damaging important cells, making it important for immune functioning.

The Effects of Glutathione Supplements on Transsulfuration Metabolites

For the experiment, the researchers used 26 children with autism and divided them into two groups. One group would receive transdermal glutathione while the other group would receive oral glutathione. The treatment lasted over a period of eight weeks.  The researchers monitored side-effects and levels of glutathione, oxidized glutathione, taurine, sulfate, and cysteine.

At the end of the trial, Kern, et al., found that the oral glutathione group exhibited significant increases in plasma reduced glutathione. Both treatment groups also demonstrated significant increases in levels of plasma sulfate, cysteine and taurine. Oxidized glutathione showed little change in the groups.

Based on these results, the researchers believe that both forms of glutathione supplements, oral and transdermal, can benefit children with autism by increasing transsulfuration metabolites. They suggest additional studies be done in order to investigate the potential of glutathione supplements for management of autism symptoms.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3628138/

Sulfur-Containing Amino Acids Cysteine and Methionine

The two main sulfur-containing amino acids are cysteine and methionine; however, there are other sulfur-containing amino acids as well. Both cysteine and methionine are nonpolar as well as hydrophobic, with methionine being extremely hydrophobic as far as amino acids go. Methionine is also found inside proteins, and cysteine is often found there too. There are some other fascinating things about these two (and other) sulfur-containing amino acids.

Aside from methionine and cysteine being most popularly known, other commonly known sulfur-containing amino acids include homocysteine and taurine. The last two are not incorporated into proteins, however. According to the authors at the Journal of Nutrition (JN), the “difference accounts for some of the distinctive properties of the sulfur-containing amino acids. Methionine is the initiating amino acid in the synthesis of virtually all eukaryotic proteins … [and if] exposed, are susceptible to oxidative damage. Cysteine, by virtue of its ability to form disulfide bonds, plays a crucial role in protein structure and in protein-folding pathways.”

The authors of JN discuss a number of these sulfur-containing amino acids—methionine, cysteine, taurine, homocysteine, and the lesser known S-adenosylmethionine.

Importance of sulfur-containing amino acids

Although cysteine and methionine are the primary sulfur-containing amino acids due to being two of the 22 common amino acids that are incorporated within proteins, both taurine and homocysteine are also important for physiological function. So why is sulfur in amino acids since most aminos are made of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen? Because, says JN, oxygen and sulfur both belong to ‘Group 6’ of the Periodic Table of Elements, so are “capable of making similar covalent linkages” with a critical difference that sulfur has a low electronegativity (oxygen has the second lowest electronegativity). So if oxygen replaces the sulfur it would “result in a much less hydrophobic amino acid.”

Furthermore, substituting oxygen for sulfur—causing oxidation—in sulfur-containing amino acids (including in the more rare S-adenosylmethionine) can have effects in methionine residues where the surface is exposed, causing an oxidation-reduction cycle, imparing the activity of “methionine sulfoxide reductase and the subsequent accumulation of methionine sulfoxide residues [that] are associated with age-related diseases, neurodegeneration, and shorter lifespan.”

Lastly taurine, as one of the more remarkable sulfur-containing amino acids, has very high concentrations within muscle tissues and utilizes a wide variety of functions. Taurine is, says JN, the “most abundant free amino acid in animal tissues [even though it] accounts for only 3% of the free amino acid pool in plasma, it accounts for 25%, 50%, 53%, and 19%, respectively, of this pool in liver, kidney, muscle, and brain.” It is also one of the most necessary sulfur-containing amino acids for cats and results retinal degeneration in kittens if the mothers are not fed a taurine-rich diet. Taurine is also found in human mother’s milk and is added to many infant formulas because it helps with eyesight.

So all in all, sufur-containing amino acids are necessary for proper health of both animals and humans in the proper biological functioning and growth, as well being associated with some diseases and anti-aging and neurological issues.

Reference:

http://jn.nutrition.org/content/136/6/1636S.full