benefits of tudca

10 Benefits of TUDCA and Side Effects for Health

TUDCA (Tauroursodeoxycholic acid) is a bile acid naturally found in the human body.

It is widely used as a dietary supplement due to its numerous health benefits and support for various internal functions.

This article will guide you through 10 TUDCA benefits and side effects for health.

By better understanding the pros and cons, readers can make informed decisions about supplementing with TUDCA as a therapy to build a healthy lifestyle.

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Key Takeaways

  • TUDCA is a bile acid produced naturally by the liver and found in bear bile, offering numerous potential health benefits.
  • TUDCA helps protect the liver, prevent gallstones, reduce inflammation, improve liver function, enhance brain health, and balance cholesterol levels.
  • TUDCA can be used daily in doses not exceeding 1500 mg/day, with a recommended dosage of 10mg/bodyweight/day for adults.

What is TUDCA?

what are tudca benefits for liver

TUDCA (Tauroursodeoxycholic Acid) is a naturally occurring water-soluble bile acid first found in bear bile.

It is the physiologically active form of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), which is notable for its ability to promote life and prevent liver and bile duct disorders while also improving effectiveness in preventing Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and other apoptosis-related diseases [1][3].

TUDCA is formed from synthesizing bacteria in the large intestine, breaking down bile salts into ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), which then combines with taurine molecules to create TUDCA [2].

TUDCA has also been shown in various models to potentially heal diabetes, obesity, neurodegeneration and reduce oxidative stress [2].

A healthy human body can produce a small amount of TUDCA; however, this process can be affected by diet, poor liver function, or certain medications.

Therefore, supplementing TUDCA can be entirely beneficial for enhancing brain, kidney, and eye health functions.

How Does TUDCA Work?

The human body contains a special compartment for protein production known as the endoplasmic reticulum (ER).

When this protein production line is under too much stress, it can lead to issues related to ER stress, causing various diseases like obesity, diabetes, and cancer [1].

TUDCA works as a chemical chaperone, promoting the proper folding of proteins inside cells, thereby preventing deformation, reducing ER stress, and improving liver and bile duct health.

Furthermore, this mechanism of TUDCA has been studied for its ability to halt apoptosis, the state of cell death in the body [1].

Another mechanism involves TUDCA's impact on metabolic diseases like obesity and diabetes.

TUDCA improves insulin sensitivity in the liver and muscles of individuals through its action on G-protein-coupled receptors, promoting the phosphorylation of subsequent targets such as Protein Kinase B (Akt) and Insulin Receptor Substrate 1 (IRS) [4].

10 TUDCA Benefits for Health that May Surprise You

TUDCA has garnered significant research interest due to its potential health benefits. Its diverse mechanisms also contribute to its efficacy as a supplement that is beneficial for various body functions. Below are some key health benefits of TUDCA:

What are the Benefits of TUDCA for the Liver?

Benefits of TUDCA for the Liver

TUDCA has proven to be effective for liver and bile health. A study involving TUDCA supplementation for 750mg/day for six months in individuals with liver problems showed a reduction in liver enzymes without side effects, indicating its good tolerance [5].

TUDCA also helps alleviate cholestasis caused by liver damage, where bile does not flow properly from the liver to the gallbladder and finally to the small intestine, potentially leading to bile deficiency in the small intestine and excess in the liver, triggering cirrhotic conditions [6].

Digestive Support

Bile acids play vital roles in digestion by enhancing the absorption of lipids and fat-soluble vitamins and regulating cholesterol secretion and sterol homeostasis.

By conjugating with glycine or taurine before being secreted into the gallbladder and duodenum, bile acids increase solubility, eliminate toxins, dilute bile, and protect gallbladder health [7].

Specifically, TUDCA protects the gastric mucosa and supports gastritis associated with bile reflux [32].

Additionally, ER stress has been shown to lead to intestinal inflammation and chronic gastrointestinal inflammation. Recent studies demonstrate TUDCA's potential to reduce inflammation in IBD mouse models by mitigating ER stress in intestinal cells [8].

Further research indicates its function in boosting intestinal barrier strength, positively altering the gut microbiota, and reducing inflammation [9].

TUDCA also has effects on functional dyspepsia (FD) and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), minimizing bloating, indigestion, and abdominal discomfort in patients [33].

Does TUDCA Enhance Brain Health?

TUDCA is effective for patients with neurodegenerative disorders that cause gradual brain function loss, leading to diseases like ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), Parkinson's, Huntington's, and Alzheimer's [10].

A study conducted on 86 ALS patients using TUDCA and 172 ALS patients not using TUDCA revealed that those consuming TUDCA had an average longer lifespan than those who did not [11].

Researchers have also expanded studies on TUDCA to understand its protective role in the brain and improve outcomes post-hemorrhagic stroke.

Experiments conducted by administering TUDCA pre- or post-stroke for up to 6 hours in mice showed a 50% reduction in brain damage within two days [12].

Cellular Support

TUDCA aids mitochondrial health, which is a part of cells responsible for generating energy and supplying it to cells.

A study conducted on P23H homozygous line 3 mice by weekly TUDCA administration aimed at observing TUDCA's utility in curing future retinitis pigmentosa showed that the number of stellate cells in the retinas of animals using TUDCA was significantly higher than those not using it.

Researchers concluded that TUDCA helps combat apoptosis (cell death) and mitochondrial dysfunction and beneficially alters neural cells [13].

Can TUDCA Protect Eyesight?

tudca benefits for eye

TUDCA benefits individuals with retinitis pigmentosa disorders that lead to blindness and retina cell death.

Additionally, TUDCA prevents the degradation between light-sensing retinal cells and surrounding neurons responsible for sending signals to the brain, as demonstrated through experiments conducted on mice [14].

May Reduce Stress

TUDCA has the effect of reducing ER stress, which is one of the causes of cardiac dysfunction and pathological hypertrophy.

Additionally, reducing endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress also decreases dysfunction in cells, limiting apoptosis through mechanisms involving glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) under ER stress induced by thapsigargin [15].

May Reduce Insulin Resistance and Diabetes

Stress in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) also negatively impacts blood sugar levels and diabetes.

TUDCA has shown potential in addressing the consequences of ER stress, managing blood sugar levels, and mitigating its effects on diabetes through various studies.

Research conducted on obese mice due to overeating showed the ability to maintain healthy blood sugar levels in the body and enhance insulin sensitivity.

TUDCA is also recognized for its ability to consume cellular energy, which is one of the factors affecting the body's insulin regulation [16].

Another study conducted in patients with type 1 diabetes in China showed the potential of TUDCA supplementation in minimizing copper and zinc concentrations, a condition commonly found in diabetics [17].

Antioxidant Property

A study conducted to observe the antioxidant activity of TUDCA using electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy showed a significant reduction in the rate of oxygen consumption in the system, yielding positive results in antioxidant activity, combating water-soluble free radicals by accumulating in lipid-containing regions prone to peroxidation [18].

Another study demonstrated the neuroprotective effects of TUDCA in Parkinson's disease through the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory mechanisms of bile acid on the mouse cortex, highlighting TUDCA's potential to perform this function [19].

Improve Healthy Cardiovascular Health

tudca may improve healthy cardiovascular health

The ability of TUDCA to reduce ER stress truly benefits many health issues, and cardiovascular health is no exception.

A study conducted on mice to examine its ability to reduce damage to heart cells, leading to cell death and scarring, concluded that TUDCA can reduce heart damage, decrease fibrosis, lower cell death risk, and alter gene expression [20].

Microbiome Support

TUDCA enhances the microbiome's health through mechanisms that produce healthy inflammatory responses.

Additionally, through the hydrolysis of bile salts and the 7α-dehydroxylation of bile acids, the gut microbiota produces secondary bile acid hormones that affect host physiology, reducing dysbiosis that leads to severe conditions such as gastrointestinal cancers, gallstones, and liver diseases [21].

Other Potential Benefits

Moreover, TUDCA also affects osteoarthritis (OA) caused by high cholesterol levels in cartilage cells, stiffening cell membranes, and hindering cartilage gene expression signaling.

Studies have shown that TUDCA helps lower cholesterol and promote cartilage cell signaling, preventing arthritis [22].

TUDCA also brings positive results to those with chronic kidney disease (CKD), which impairs kidney function and reduces quality of life. By alleviating ER stress, TUDCA helps prevent renal fibrosis [23].

Finally, bile acid helps break down and absorb fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, D, E, and K, enhancing bile production function and improving the body's absorption mechanism for these fat-soluble vitamins [24].

What are the Side Effects of TUDCA?

Similar to other supplements, TUDCA can cause side effects if taken in excess of the recommended dosage. Some reported side effects include diarrhea, constipation, rash, or stomach pain [11].

Additionally, TUDCA may cause nausea, headache, insomnia, and heartburn in some individuals after use.

However, TUDCA is confirmed to have no long-term side effects [25]. Most symptoms require hospitalization but subside after discontinuation.

To avoid side effects, not only with TUDCA, you should consult an expert before using any supplement to get the most accurate advice.

Does TUDCA Interact with any Medications?

The effectiveness of TUDCA may be reduced when combined with Clofibrate, a lipid-lowering medication belonging to the fibrate group [34].

In addition, if you are taking medications related to the liver or cholesterol, be cautious, as TUDCA may also interact with them.

Once again, consult a healthcare professional to ensure that the supplementation is safe for your health.

Who Should Take TUDCA?

TUDCA (Tauroursodeoxycholic Acid) should be carefully considered and only taken under the guidance of a physician. However, certain groups of people might be considered for TUDCA supplementation based on its potential benefits, such as:

Individuals with SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth)

TUDCA may help alleviate digestive symptoms of SIBO, such as diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, and constipation.

Additionally, it can improve liver function and protect the liver from toxins, which can benefit those with SIBO and liver issues.

People with Liver Diseases

TUDCA has liver-protective properties and may help improve liver function in individuals with liver conditions such as hepatitis, cirrhosis, and bile duct obstruction.

Bodybuilders and Athletes

Liver detoxification is not focused solely on this one organ but depends on the entire excretory system. For athletes, TUDCA helps support liver health and protects the liver from toxins due to high-intensity training.

Who Should Not Take TUDCA?

Similar to other supplements, TUDCA is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women. Additionally, individuals with underlying conditions related to the liver, lipid disorders, or cholesterol should carefully consider and consult their doctor before using TUDCA.

How Much Is TUDCA Dosage for Liver Repair?

TUDCA Dosage for Liver Repair

A study using TUDCA to support primary biliary cirrhosis recommends a safe and effective consumption dosage of TUDCA as approximately 10 mg/kg body weight/day [26].

This dosage is suitable for those looking to enhance liver function, especially patients with primary biliary cirrhosis, without causing side effects like diarrhea.

How Long Does TUDCA Stay In Your System?

A pilot study conducted to verify the safety and tolerability of orally administered bile acid in Parkinson's disease patients indicated that the body takes about 2 hours to consume the level of TUDCA, and the bile acids in the body will be reduced by half after this period [27].

How Long Does It Take for TUDCA to Start Working?

There is no evidence that TUDCA exerts its effects immediately after use. All the benefits of supplements can only be seen when taken regularly every day. Most studies on the effects of TUDCA occur from 1-6 months after incorporating this supplement into the diet [5].

FAQs

Is TUDCA Good for the Liver?

Based on numerous studies, TUDCA is rated as beneficial for the liver, aiding in the recovery from cirrhosis or scar tissue formation [28]. On the other hand, TUDCA is also proven safe for use in liver transplant patients, cirrhosis, or other liver-related issues but only shows good efficacy when continuously supplemented for one year; longer durations have not been verified [29].

Does TUDCA Lower Cholesterol?

Yes, TUDCA reduces cholesterol in the intestine, liver, and serum, decreasing dietary cholesterol intake and reducing the formation of gallstones [30]. In addition, Tauroursodeoxycholic Acid (TUDCA) also combats osteoarthritis by regulating intracellular cholesterol levels [31].

Is It Safe to Take TUDCA Daily?

TUDCA can be used daily but not exceeding 1500 mg/day. It can be divided into two or three doses to minimize side effects or the body's potential lack of adaptation.

Is TUDCA a Bile Salt?

TUDCA is a natural hydrophilic bile salt or bile acid recognized for supporting liver and gallbladder-related conditions. TUDCA is a taurine conjugate of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), which has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat primary biliary cholangitis.

Furthermore, its health benefits extend to various conditions, such as diabetes, obesity, and neurodegenerative diseases, primarily due to its cell-protective mechanisms[36].

Which Foods Contain TUDCA?

Tauro-ursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) is a natural compound found in bear bile. It is also synthetically produced for use as a health supplement. You may find TUDCA in foods like cattle bile, egg yolks, fatty fish, butter, or olive oil; however, the amount of TUDCA found in these foods is minimal.

For safe and effective supplementation of TUDCA, you can look for alternative dietary supplements containing TUDCA, available as capsules, tablets, or powder.

When Should I Take TUDCA? Can I Take it on an Empty Stomach?

The timing and method of taking TUDCA may vary depending on the specific TUDCA extraction preparation. Nevertheless, you can take TUDCA in the morning, with or without food.

A study conducted on UDCA (a relative of TUDCA) shows that consuming this compound during a high-fat meal can delay absorption, although absorption still occurs. Experts also assert that since TUDCA is a bile acid that aids in fat digestion and nutrient absorption, it should be consumed with food [37].

Is TUDCA Vegan?

TUDCA (Tauro-ursodeoxycholic Acid) can be considered vegan; however, this depends on its source. Naturally found in bear bile, this TUDCA source is unsuitable for a vegan diet. Conversely, synthetic TUDCA, produced in laboratories from non-animal-related synthetic materials, is suitable for vegans.

Nowadays, most TUDCA on the market is synthetically produced and free from animal-derived ingredients. Therefore, vegans can use TUDCA without compromising their dietary principles.

Is TUDCA Legal?

Yes, TUDCA is regarded as a legal dietary supplement and is widely available in many countries. In the United States, TUDCA is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a prescription medication for treating certain liver conditions.

However, make sure to consult a doctor before using TUDCA, especially if you are under 18, pregnant, breastfeeding, have medical conditions, or are taking any medications.

Why is TUDCA So Expensive?

TUDCA is expensive due to high market demand and a complex production process yielding low quantities. The price of TUDCA is significantly influenced by the cost of raw materials, the advanced technology required, high expertise levels, and the rigorous quality control processes conducted by third parties.

In summary, due to its potential health benefits, the increasing demand for TUDCA is met with a limited supply owing to its intricate production process, leading to scarcity and higher costs.

Does TUDCA Affect the Thyroid?

Yes, TUDCA does affect the thyroid. TUDCA has been shown to increase energy expenditure by promoting the activation of intracellular thyroid hormones, enhancing the conversion of thyroid hormone T4 into T3, boosting metabolism, and using fat as the primary energy source instead of carbohydrates[38].

Does TUDCA Have any Effects on Sleep?

Currently, no scientific research directly evaluates the impact of TUDCA (Tauro-ursodeoxycholic Acid) on sleep. The only information this article can provide is the excellent potential of TUDCA for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), as demonstrated by experts and research[39].

Conclusion

TUDCA is a supplement with many health benefits, from supporting liver, bile, and kidney function to reducing inflammation and protecting vision, the nervous system, and cardiovascular health. The article above has provided you with 10 TUDCA benefits and side effects for health, but before using any supplement, consider and consult with your doctor thoroughly.

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Author

Ralph S. Albert, with over 10 years of expertise in nutrition and research, now heads the Research division at Vinatura Supplements. His dedication and extensive knowledge ensure top-quality articles on nutrition and health, collaborating with a skilled team. He has successfully completed The VINATURA Expertise Research Training Program, underscoring his commitment to Vinatura's mission. Ralph has also published numerous articles and conducted valuable research in the field, making him a trusted resource for individuals on their wellness journey.

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