TUDCA! Sounds like some kind of battle cry right? What it actually stands for is Tauroursodeoxycholic acid. Now you know why we just call it TUDCA haha.
TUDCA is the taurine form of of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA). UDCA and TUDCA are both secondary bile acids, produced in the gut and not in the liver. Primary bile acids are produced by the liver and stored in the gall bladder. When secreted into the intestine, primary bile acids can be metabolized into secondary bile acids by intestinal bacteria. Bile acids have a big impact in the gastrointestinal ecosystem.
One way TUDCA works is by inhibiting BAX from being transported to the mitochondria. BAX is a core regulator of apoptosis, also known as programmed cell death. If the mitochondria are distressed, they release the molecule cytochrome C, which initiates enzymes called caspases to promote a cellular mechanisms to cause apoptosis. BAX is a molecule that moves into the mitochondria to stimulate the release of said cytochrome C. By blocking BAX, TUDCA stops cell death and by proxy improves mitochondrial dysfunction.
Ok, but how does this improve liver health which is what TUDCA is best known and used for? Well exactly how TUDCA directly works is still pretty much unknown, but it has to do with protecting the mitochondria and saving certain kinds of cells from early death. This effect is evident is research showing an increased rate of liver cell differentiation and proliferation.
TUDCA has also to help control cholesterol levels in the liver, protecting us from cholestasis because its ability to break down fats, resulting to a healthy liver.
Some studies have also shown that TUDCA was able to reduce liver enzyme levels such as ALT, AST, GGT, and Alkaline Phosphatase by improving bile composition. Elevated liver enzymes are an indication of poor liver health and function and respectively, low liver enzymes indicate a healthy and functioning liver.
Is there any real world evidence of such positive effects from supplementing with TUDCA? It just so happens a friend of mine used it to help bring his liver values back in range. On the left you can see his values before using TUDCA, and on the right his readings after. Please note the date format is American, so MM/DD/YYYY.
As you can see his AST and ASL were out of range. He received TUDCA Aug 17th and started the next day taking 4 capsules a day, 250mg per capsule, totalling 1g of TUDCA daily.
Dosing for TUDCA can range and best explained quoting Examine.com
"10-13mg daily has once been shown to improve liver regenesis rates in a clinically ill population, and may be the lowest estimate of an active oral dose. When looking at improving bile salt composition, a dose around 15-20mg/kg bodyweight TUDCA seems best according to one study.
Benefits have been seen at 1,750mg daily for muscle and liver insulin sensitivity, which is the highest dose used for treatment of fatty liver disease."
More and more brands have started releasing their own TUDCA products, even though this ingredient was known in 2008 and mainly released by Thermolife in their Liver Longer supplement, which had 60 capsules with 250mg per capsule.
At high doses of TUDCA you may experience stomach issues and diarrhoea, so it is best to break up the servings through the day if you plan on taking more than 750mg a day.
Better than Milk Thistle? I would say so. Pricey? Yes but you pay for what you get and this is not a cheap ingredient to manufacturer. If you want to risk your health by buying cheap Liv52, feel free to. I'll stick to something that works.