What Is Taurine? Is It Safe? The Must Know Facts
If you’re up on your sports supplements, chances are, you’ve heard about a little supplement called Taurine before. Taurine is one of the most popular amino acids and can serve a number of purposes. It can even assist those who are not hitting the gym on a regular basis. While you will definitely find it…
If you’re up on your sports supplements, chances are, you’ve heard about a little supplement called Taurine before. Taurine is one of the most popular amino acids and can serve a number of purposes.
It can even assist those who are not hitting the gym on a regular basis. While you will definitely find it in many different sports supplements, the benefits it provides do not stop with sports improvement. Instead, this supplement may assist other areas of your health and well-being.
Let’s have a closer look at what Taurine is, whether it’s safe and some important facts you’ll want to consider about it.
What Is Taurine?
First let’s start by talking about what Taurine is in the first place. It is a naturally occurring amino acid that is found in foods such as meat, fish, as well as dairy products. If you are eating a balanced mix diet that contains all of these foods, chances are good that you are getting Taurine into the picture. The problem is you need more Taurine than what these foods offer in order to help with many health conditions or provide sports supplement benefits.
Taurine is primarily found in the body, brain, eyes, heart and muscles. It’s also considered a conditional amino acid rather than an essential amino acid. This means that if your body is not getting in enough Taurine to maintain normal body processes, it can make Taurine from other amino acids that you are consuming. So all in all, it’s not necessary to take in from outside sources. But there are some benefits to doing so.
Where you might most commonly recognize Taurine, and what has really made it a household name in North America right now is the fact that it’s heavily predominant in energy drinks. We live in a sleep-deprived society and while people use to rely predominantly on coffee, now we are drinking liter after liter of energy drinks instead.
These energy drinks contain two primary active ingredients: caffeine and Taurine. Both of these can be quite powerful on the body, so it’s important that moderation is key.
While current recommendations for the upper limit of Taurine is set to 3,000 mg per day and a can of Red Bull energy drink contains only 250 ml, you’d be hard pressed to drink enough energy drinks to reach dangerous levels, caution should still be taken.
Many people are seeing adverse side effects after drinking one too many energy drinks and whether this is due to the Taurine, the caffeine content, or the other artificial ingredients in beverages, it’s important not to turn a blind eye.
So while Taurine itself appears to be safe, like most things in life, practicing moderation is key.
All of this said, what benefits does tauring bring? Why include it in your diet plan? Here are some of the things you can look forward to upon taking Taurine.
Reduced Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease
Heart disease rates are on the rise right now and sadly, this impacts a great number of people. Some don’t even know they are at a great risk of a heart attack until it’s too late and they’re struck down.
Research has shown that Taurine may help to reduce the risk of heart disease by reducing blood pressure and inflammation. Typically blood pressure and inflammation go hand in hand with heart disease, so it’s not uncommon to see someone with high blood pressure suffering from a heart attack – even if their cholesterol level is where it should be (1).
If you are at risk or have suffered from a heart attack, it may be worth your while to speak to your doctor about this.
Note however, because Taurine is combined with caffeine in energy drinks and caffeine can actually put more strain on your heart and increase your risk of heart attack, you don’t want to get the Taurine from energy drinks if this is the benefit you are looking for.
Assistance With Parkinson’s Disease
Another way that Taurine may help is by reducing the symptoms and side effects associated with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease may not seem like it’s all that common, but more than 10 million people worldwide are currently living with this condition (2). There’s a good chance that at some point in your life, you will meet one of those people.
Taurine can help with this by the regeneration of brain cells through stimulation of the stem cells. This increases the life of neurons and keeps the healthier part of the brain functioning better.
It also appears as though Taurine may play a strong role in the formation of memories and those who consume it regularly who suffer from Parkinson’s may notice they aren’t losing their memory as quickly as those who don’t add it to their day. It’s exciting to see that new research is now showing that loss of brain matter is not entirely a non-reversible process (3).
May Assist Those Suffering From Metabolic Syndrome
If you have never had a heart attack, you may want to be on the lookout for the forewarning before the storm: metabolic syndrome. Those who suffer from metabolic syndrome typically maintain four key characteristics:· High blood pressure
· Insulin resistance
· High cholesterol levels
If these four are present in your life, it’s important to note that your health may very well be in jeopardy if action is not taken to overcome these health woes.
As it turns out, Taurine may help. It appears as though this amino acid may help to reduce triglyceride levels in the body, combat obesity, and may also improve insulin resistance, making your body more sensitive to insulin. This can also help you prevent diabetes as well.
If you do currently suffer from metabolic syndrome, don’t take Taurine thinking it will be your total solution to overcoming this problem – you do still need to make dramatic changes in your lifestyle as well, but do keep in mind that it can provide some extra assistance. And, as far as your health is concerned, you likely will appreciate all the extra assistance you can get.
Increased Athletic Performance
Perhaps the most well-known benefit of Taurine is the impact it has on athletic performance. If you are someone training hard in the gym or for sport, you will most definitely see improvements if you pursue Taurine supplementation.
Research has clearly outlined that Taurine may help to improve running performance, to the tune of 99.3% of those taking it showing an increase in their total running times (5).
The other way that Taurine exerts its effects is through the cognitive processing that occurs during a workout session. Those who consume Taurine may find that they feel more focused in the gym and in addition to that, may notice stronger concentration levels as well.
If you are someone who often feels distracted in the gym or has trouble getting ‘into the zone’ so to speak, you might find that Taurine can help solve this problem.
Weight Loss Related Benefits
Earlier we noted that Taurine may help to defend against obesity. The way in which it does this is by increasing the overall rate of fatty acids being burned in the body compared to glucose.
This is an important finding because not only can this help to improve total rates of weight loss, but in addition to that, it may also help to spare muscle glycogen. So if you are doing a workout session, rather than burning through glucose, which can then leave you feeling often quite fatigued, you will burn more total fat, leaving some glucose in the tank, so to speak.
This may help boost endurance, which may then help you exercise longer, thus burning more calories overall during that session. This may also lead to superior weight loss results.
One caveat you do want to keep in mind with this however is that often, in research done on Taurine when taking sports supplements, the Taurine is combined with caffeine, so it could be the synergistic effects of the Taurine-caffeine combination rather than strictly Taurine alone.
This just means that if you are looking to take Taurine for sports supplementation purposes, do find a supplement that contains caffeine also, if you can. But, like we noted earlier, do use in moderation. Caffeine sensitivity can vary greatly between individuals, so always do keep that in mind.
Dosing With Taurine
So how much Taurine do you really need in order to see good results? What should your dosage be? This will depend, in part, on how many Taurine-rich foods you are eating in your diet plan. Taurine is found more predominantly in animal based proteins, so if you are a vegetarian, there’s a good chance you will fall short, therefore taking in more Taurine through supplementation may be a wise move.
For general performance sake, it appears as though taking in around 500-1000 mg or even up to 2000 mg may be beneficial. Note that you should never exceed 3000 mg per day for safety reasons.
For overall health benefits, you can probably err on the lower end of that recommendation, taking in around 200-500 mg per day instead.
Again, look at your diet and use this to help guide you.
Meat and Poultry contains between 11-305 mg of Taurine per 100 grams.
Seafood contains 11 to 827 mg per 100 gram.
Dairy products contain just 2-8 mg per 100 milliliters.
Fruits, vegetables and beans will be even lower, so it’s easy to see why vegetarians may fall short in this amino acid if they aren’t careful.
So there you have some of the key details about Taurine to remember. It’s definitely a worthwhile supplement to look into if you want to optimize your performance and possibly give yourself a bit of an edge as far as your health goes. Just do remember, like any supplement out there, it won’t work miracles. It simply makes getting done what you need to do that much easier.
Frequently Asked Questions About Taurine
Taurine is an amino acid that is made in the body from metabolic processes from other amino acids you consume or taken in directly. It offers antioxidant properties and many health benefits. However, like all things, too much of it is not a wise choice. Few side effects are seen, but do try and stay under 3000 mg per day.
Why do they put Taurine in energy drinks?
Taurine is added to energy drinks because it can help the body increase natural energy, stay focused, and help you utilize fatty acids more efficiently.
Is Taurine supplement safe?
Taurine supplements are thought to be safe provided you take a dosage under 3000 mg per day. They can help assist with combating heart disease, parkinson’s disease, and may also help ward off metabolic syndrome.
Is Taurine a stimulant?
While Taurine is added to energy drinks and appears to have energy boosting properties, it is not considered to stimulate the central nervous system the same way that say caffeine does.
What foods are high in Taurine?
Great sources of Taurine include shellfish, especially scallops, mussels, and clams. You can also find good doses of it in the dark meat in turkey and chicken. Smaller amounts are found in dairy products.
1. Yamori, Yukio, et al. “Taurine in health and diseases: consistent evidence from experimental and epidemiological studies.” Journal of biomedical science 17.1 (2010): S6.
Pomeroy I, Jordan E, Frank J, Matthews P, Esiri M. Diffuse cortical atrophy in a marmoset model of multiple sclerosis. Neurosci Lett. 2008 May 30;437(2):121-4.
4. Chen, Wen, et al. “The beneficial effects of Taurine in preventing metabolic syndrome.” Food & function 7.4 (2016): 1849-1863.
5. Balshaw, Thomas G., et al. “The effect of acute Taurine ingestion on 3-km running performance in trained middle-distance runners.” Amino acids 44.2 (2013): 555-561.
6. Rutherford, Jane A., Lawrence L. Spriet, and Trent Stellingwerff. “The effect of acute Taurine ingestion on endurance performance and metabolism in well-trained cyclists.” International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism 20.4 (2010): 322-329.