The perfect antioxidant would bind to structures (mostly enzymes) that generate harmful (non-signaling – although in a sense, by definition, all harmful, non-signaling free radicals in fact signal the need for more protection from free radicals) free radicals, and it would prevent them from doing so.
In this way, antioxidant enzymes would become pretty much superfluous – an answer to Michael Ristow’s criticism of the widespread use of antioxidants.
As a quencher-of-free-radicals type of antioxidant, taurine is weaker than two of its precursors, cysteine and homotaurine.
However, some taurine researchers think that taurine, while a weak antioxidant quencher of free radicals, is a nearly perfect antioxidant; they think taurine inhibits the generation of free radicals.
Can we design a more perfect antioxidant than taurine that prevents the generation of harmful free radicals? Not likely, nature is not perfectible, but perhaps a cocktail of molecules with really high affinities for different enzymes that generate the free radicals, and better ability to prevent free radical formation, would work better than taurine and whatever else we have.
Such antioxidants extend the definition of Packer’s term “antioxidant network.”
This leads to two questions:
1. Do we rely more heavily on taurine than animals who make their own vitamin C? If so, maybe this is why our requirement for vitamin C is so much lower than the reasonable guess of many grams per day. Possibly – but it is more likely that even with grams per day of taurine supplementation, we still need much more than 60-100 mg/day of vitamin C to be at our best.
2. If taurine is a near perfect antioxidant, is its priority score higher than #4 for drawing down the cellular cysteine pools? That is, given that limited cellular cysteine pools must provide for a lot of important things. I have assumed that the order -which would determine what is done first, second, etc. when pools are limiting – was:
A. Protein synthesis. B. Glutathione synthesis. C. Coenzyme A synthesis. D. All others, including taurine synthesis, synthesis of activated sulfate, and synthesis of hydrogen sulfide.