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Why did my doctor take me off taurine-fortified vitamins?
Q: I don’t understand why my obstetrician discontinued my prenatal vitamins fortified with taurine, and switched it to an iron supplement. Would it be wise to use both?
A: Studies suggest that taurine is important in fetal growth, neural and eye development, and endocrine function. In animal studies where taurine was restricted during pregnancy, adult offspring showed signs of impaired neurologic function, and were prone to develop diabetes.

The good news is that plenty of taurine is an amino acid – a building block of protein easily obtained by eating a well-balanced diet containing adequate protein. Your body can obtain taurine from foods such as meat, milk, eggs and fish, and also has the capacity to synthesize taurine from other amino acids. Supplements of taurine are not necessary for most women. On the other hand, some women with severe food allergies, women with inadequate protein intake, and women who are vegan vegetarians may have amino acid deficiencies. Additionally, Type I Diabetes may be associated with low taurine levels.

It is important for amino acids to be in balance with each other, which is more easily accomplished through your diet than through supplements. There is no recommended daily allowance of taurine, though some prenatal vitamins now include this amino acid.

If your doctor prefers that you take an iron supplement, it is likely that initial blood tests revealed you are anemic. Taking the original prenatal supplement may have seemed unnecessary to your doctor; however, it is unlikely to be harmful. Bring your vitamin formula to your next appointment, and ask your doctor to review the reasons you were advised to discontinue this supplement.

Laura E. Stachel M.D. Obstetrician & Gynecologist