What Is TUDCA (Tauroursodeoxycholic Acid) and Why Does it Matter for My Health?

TUDCA is a new star in the functional medicine world, quickly advancing as a front-runner amongst supplements due to its many potential benefits, including brain health, liver health, mitochondria and cellular support, and more.*

In this article, we’ll explore:

What is TUDCA? 

Tauroursodeoxycholic acid, or TUDCA, is a bile acid derivative that occurs naturally in the body. It’s been used therapeutically in traditional Chinese medicine for millennia, for hepatic and biliary disorders. We only make small amounts of this health-giving compound in our body, but this bile salt actually influences many bodily functions, from the brain to the kidneys to eye health and more. 

Traditional Chinese medical practitioners have known about the benefits of TUDCA for ages, prescribing it to help detoxify the liver, treat “heat illness” such as fever, spasms, and vision problems, and improve many other conditions. But it’s only just recently come under the scientific spotlight, becoming the subject of recent clinical studies as scientists examine its many potential health benefits.

What’s the Scoop on Bile? 

Bile represents a complex fluid made of water, acids, electrolytes, and other organic molecules. Bile acids, the most functional component of bile, help us digest and absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Bile also breaks down foods, cholesterol, and can destroy harmful bacteria [1].

Bile helps the body eliminate waste, excrete cholesterol, and regulate metabolism. Bile acids convert and eliminate around 500 mg of cholesterol from the body every day. This process is called hepatic synthesis [2]. The liver produces bile, which is concentrated and stored in the gallbladder, then secreted into the digestive system via the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine beyond the stomach).

What is the Role of TUDCA in the Body?

Like many compounds in your body, TUDCA is made through a microbial process.

Firstly, bile salts are released into your intestines through the liver bile duct. Microbes in your large intestine then metabolize the bile salts into ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA). Next, it gets conjugated to a taurine molecule in order to create TUDCA. This whole process happens naturally in your body and is supported when you have a healthy amount of bile salts.

A healthy person produces very small amounts of TUDCA, recycling some 95% of their bile salts via enterohepatic circulation––when bile is absorbed through the intestines and returned to the liver via the hepatic portal vein. However, poor diet, decreased liver function, and certain medications can impair this process [2].

What’s the Difference Between UDCA and TUDCA Bile Salts?

Primary bile acids are made in the liver, using cholesterol as the base. As bile acids circulate (via enterohepatic circulation), UDCA is returned to the liver and conjugated with taurine to form TUDCA. Besides mitigating endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, this process also prevents cell death (aka apoptosis).

TUDCA stands for tauroursodeoxycholic acid while UDCA stands for ursodeoxycholic acid. They are both bile salts, but UDCA is a more common form. When the intestinal microbiota (the gut flora) produces the “secondary bile acids,” they make UDCA first. When UDCA metabolizes in the lower intestine, it binds to taurine to become TUDCA [3]. 

How to Increase TUDCA levels

We mentioned earlier that the body naturally produces TUDCA, but only in very small amounts as most of your bile salts are recycled and recirculated through the digestive system. Your natural TUDCA production can be further slowed down by: 

  • Microbiome dysbiosis caused by parasites, harmful bacteria, or yeast overgrowth
  • Stress on the liver, such as excess free radicals and not enough antioxidants
  • Systemic inflammation 
  • Nervous system dysregulation due to chronic stress
  • Gallbladder function issues
  • Chronic disease, especially concentrated in the areas where TUDCA is needed, like the liver, kidneys, brain, and intestines. 

When the liver is struggling to produce adequate bile salts, or you want to introduce fresh bile salts to support digestion and detoxification, TUDCA supplementation can be helpful. 

TUDCA Supplements

    BodyBio TUDCA is formulated without unnecessary fillers or additives and it is not sourced from animal bile of any kind, ensuring a high-quality product you can trust. Our TUDCA is prescribed and shared by functional and integrative medicine practitioners and patients worldwide. 

    TUDCA Dosage

    There isn’t a standardized dosage for TUDCA, but research on TUDCA has shown it to be effective in adults using doses between 250-1500 mg.* BodyBio TUDCA contains 250 mg per capsule (recommended serving size is two capsules taken with meals). It is not recommended to take more than 1500 mg per day. Always work with a medical professional to determine the right dosage for you. 

    TUDCA Side Effects

    TUDCA supplements are generally considered safe when taken within the recommended amounts. When exceeding 1500 mg daily, some people have reported experiencing diarrhea. Aside from that one complication, there are no other reported side effects for TUDCA.

    Given the limited research on TUDCA supplementation during pregnancy and nursing, it’s advised that pregnant or nursing women avoid it. Anyone with underlying medical conditions should speak to a doctor before using TUDCA as it may interact with other medications.  

    As we always recommend, consult with your health care provider to determine whether TUDCA is the right choice for you.

    Support Your Cellular Health with TUDCA

    TUDCA has many potential benefits across multiple systems in the body. There is good research that TUDCA supplementation may support digestion, mitochondrial function, and neurological health. It also works on a cellular level to support protein synthesis, maintain DNA structure, and ensure cell survival. You can find out more about BodyBio TUDCA here.

    References

    1. Attenuation of endoplasmic reticulum stress using the chemical chaperone 4-phenylbutyric acid prevents cardiac fibrosis induced by isoproterenol

    Experimental and Molecular Pathology, Volume 92, Issue 1, 2012, pp. 97-104

     

    2. Schoemaker MH, Conde de la Rosa L, Buist-Homan M, Vrenken TE, Havinga R, et al. (2004) Tauroursodeoxycholic acid protects rat hepatocytes from bile acid-induced apoptosis via activation of survival pathways. Hepatology 39: 1563–1573

     

    3. Benz C, Angermuller S, Kloters-Plachky P, Sauer P, Stremmel W, et al. (1998) Effect of S-adenosylmethionine versus tauroursodeoxycholic acid on bile acid-induced apoptosis and cytolysis in rat hepatocytes. Eur J Clin Invest 28: 577–583.

     

    4. Colell A, Coll O, Garcia-Ruiz C, Paris R, Tiribelli C, et al. (2001) Tauroursodeoxycholic acid protects hepatocytes from ethanol-fed rats against tumor necrosis factor-induced cell death by replenishing mitochondrial glutathione. Hepatology 34: 964–971.

     

    5. 5. Beuers U. β1 integrin is a long-sought sensor for tauroursodeoxycholic acid. Hepatology. 2013;57(3):867–9 [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

     

    6. Ceylan-Isik AF, Sreejayan N, Ren J. Endoplasmic reticulum chaperon tauroursodeoxycholic acid alleviates obesity-induced myocardial contractile dysfunction. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2011;50:107–116. pmid:21035453

     

    7. Chen Y, Liu CP, Xu KF, Mao XD, Lu YB, Fang L, et al. Effect of taurine-conjugated ursodeoxycholic acid on endoplasmic reticulum stress and apoptosis induced by advanced glycation end products in cultured mouse podocytes. Am J Nephrol. 2008;28:1014–1022. pmid:18648192

     

    8. Lo AC, Callaerts-Vegh Z, Nunes AF, Rodrigues CM, D'Hooge R. Tauroursodeoxycholic acid (TUDCA) supplementation prevents cognitive impairment and amyloid deposition in APP/PS1 mice. Neurobiol Dis. 2013;50:21–29. pmid:22974733

     

    9. Turdi S, Hu N, Ren J. Tauroursodeoxycholic acid mitigates high fat diet-induced cardiomyocyte contractile and intracellular Ca 2+ anomalies. PLoS One. 2013;8:e63615. pmid:23667647

     

    10. Ding W, Wang B, Zhang M, Gu Y. Involvement of Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress in Uremic Cardiomyopathy: Protective Effects of Tauroursodeoxycholic Acid. Cell Physiol Biochem. 2016;38:141–152. pmid:26765262

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    TUDCA (Tauroursodeoxycholic Acid) Supplement

    A bile acid naturally formed in the body that supports the digestion and utilization of fats and oils and demonstrates neuroprotective benefits*.
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