If you look at the ingredients list of energy drinks, most notably Red Bull or popular pre-workout formulas, oftentimes you’ll find an ingredient by the name of Taurine. Taurine is a conditionally essential amino acid, meaning that your body produces it on its own, yet in some cases, it’s essential to obtain it from dietary sources or supplements. As a consumer of sports nutrition supplements, it’s important to know what taurine is good for and the potential health benefits. We’re going to explore what taurine is used for and give you more insight into the potential health and ergogenic benefits of taurine.
What Is Taurine?
Taurine is a conditionally essential amino acid, technically classified as a beta-amino acid.
There is a total of 20 amino acids. Of those 20, the human body produces 11, which are classified as non-essential. The other 9 are considered essential, meaning it is essential to obtain these amino acids through diet or supplementation. Yet there are a few amino acids, taurine being one of them, which are considered conditionally essential amino acids.
Taurine acts in various important functions in the body. It has been linked to treating a number of conditions. Those conditions include congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes, and retinal damage to name a few.
Taurine is classified as a “conditionally essential” amino acid rather than “an essential amino acid.” A “conditional amino acid” can be made by the body. An “essential amino acid” cannot be made by the body and must be provided by the diet.
Since taurine is naturally produced by our own human bodies, it’s essential to our physical and neurological development. However, those with conditions such as diabetes and obesity may benefit more from Taurine supplementation, due to low concentrations.
Diets which include low levels of taurine, such as vegan or vegetarian diets, might require supplementation. This is due to the fact that Taurine is not as readily accessible in vegetables as it is in meat. Additionally, aging bodies cannot produce a suitable level of Taurine, which again could lead to supplementation.
Taurine Rich Foods
Taurine is abundant in animal proteins such as meat, fish, and dairy. Plant-based foods have low concentrations of Taurine, therefore, those following a plant-based diet have a challenging time obtaining Taurine from their diet. Let’s not forget however, that Taurine is a conditionally essential amino acid. Vegan or not, your body does produce Taurine. That being said, it’s important to monitor Taurine levels for any potential deficiencies.
A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition investigated benefits and recommendations on the vegan diet. The researchers found that Taurine supplementation was not necessary for those following a vegan diet. Furthermore, vegan athletes shouldn’t have a problem producing enough energy to perform athletic endeavors.
Monitoring nutrient levels especially if you’re on a restrictive diet is imperative to maintain overall health and nutrient balance. If taurine levels are low, supplementation is recommended.
You Can Be Deficient in Taurine
When a taurine deficiency occurs during development, serious symptoms like impaired brain function and poor blood sugar control have been observed. Although extremely rare, taurine deficiency is linked to several serious health issues.
One of the key effects of taurine is that it plays important roles in regulating metabolism, isolating minerals and maintaining eye health. Producing Taurine naturally within your body requires healthy levels of various vitamins, minerals and enzymes.
Any imbalances in these substances can cause difficulties and deficiencies – including leading to you becoming deficient in Taurine.
There are many signs of Taurine deficiency as it is involved in so many of the body’s functions. Some related symptoms that you should look out for are impaired vision, anxiety or depression, hypertension, endurance and recovery problems, and weight gain.
This kind of deficiency can produce other cognitive symptoms such as insomnia, restlessness, irritability and problems concentrating.
Why It’s a Popular Energy Drink Ingredient
As mentioned above, Taurine is often included as an ingredient in energy drinks. This is because of the physiological effect taurine has on us like improving muscular function and physical performance. It is often added to soda and energy drinks. Some energy drinks include up to 600-1,000 mg or more of taurine supplement in one single serving. However, doses of up to 3000 mg per day are generally considered to be safe with side effects of taurine rarely seen, although the long-term outcomes are not clear.
If you’re wondering, is taurine bad for you? Know that it appears that other common constituents of energy drinks, such as glucose and caffeine, are more likely to cause significant side effects in high doses than taurine.
Be smart. Using energy drinks as your primary (or only) source of Taurine is not smart. Energy drinks and soda drinks contain other substances which you should limit yourself on, like caffeine.
According to Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. there are studies which suggest that Taurine combined with caffeine improves mental performance. But, it must be noted for transparency’s sake that there may be high amounts of other ingredients in energy drinks. Ingredients like caffeine or sugar.
Too much caffeine can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, interrupt your sleep, and cause nervousness and irritability. And added sugar may provide unwanted added calories.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Taurine
Taurine May Help Fight Obesity
The prevalence of obesity in 2018, was 42.4% and has increased nearly 15% over the last decade. Studies show that supplementation of Taurine has been linked to improved composition, or body mass index ratings (BMI) as well as improved inflammation markers in obese patients.
Studies have shown that patients with obesity, have a lower concentration of taurine.
But before you load up your virtual shopping cart with taurine, it’s important to note that the only way you’re going to be dropping lbs, is by moving more and eating less calories. Supplements may aid in weight loss, however losing weight depends on many variables, most importantly your nutrition, not just taking a supplement. If weight loss is your goal, hire a nutrition coach and take the guess work out of it. You’ll thank me later.
Taurine Can Potentially Help Diabetics
Taurine is currently being heavily researched as an antidiabetic compound due to the effect of taurine on organs of the body of most concern to diabetics. Organs like your kidneys – which produce insulin – and your eyes and nervous system.
Numerous studies have found that taurine plays a significant role in overcoming insulin resistance, associated with type I and type II diabetes [R]. Diabetes is characterized by elevated blood glucose, or sugar levels. Taurine makes your body more receptive to insulin and by doing so, you can regulate and balance your blood sugar levels.
The study also found that its levels tend to be lower in diabetics than healthy individuals. Another indicator that it may play a role in this disease. Taurine may have benefits for people with diabetes. It may lower blood sugar levels and improve various risk factors for heart disease.
However, this research is in its infancy. And all bodies are different. Consult your physician before you break down the pharmacist’s door looking for your taurine supplements!
Taurine Could Improve Heart Disease
A study published in the Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition found that exercise increases the taurine content of your muscles. Therefore, the muscles that are used the most during exercise subsequently have the most taurine. Since the heart is the hardest-working muscle in the body, it therefore contains the highest concentrations of taurine.
Those with congenital heart failure or suffering from heart related conditions, will find it most beneficial to supplement with Taurine, since the heart will fully utilize Taurine dependent upon uptake availability.
Taurine works by reducing the actions of norepinephrine and angiotensin II, which are known to decrease myocardial performance. Studies show that Taurine availability has a direct impact on exercise capacity and oxygen consumption, due to cardiac related pathologies . Taurine also has been shown to help regulate blood pressure, reduce inflammation, and promote antioxidant capabilities.
Taurine Keeps Your Heart Healthy
It strengthens heart muscle cells, enabling it to work harder and more efficiently. In studies, Taurine was found to increase the retention of potassium and magnesium in the heart muscle. These are needed for regular heart muscle contractions and electrolyte balance. It has also linked to relieving hypertension.
Patients with high blood pressure have lower than normal levels of Taurine in their bloodstream. A protein called ‘angiotensin’ is released when your levels are low, and this prevents high blood pressure. Meaning your heart is stronger and healthier and able to be put to the test.
In one group of overweight people, 3 grammes of Taurine per day for only seven weeks reduced body weight and improved several heart disease risk factors. Taking supplements helped reduce inflammation and arterial thickening.
Research shows a link between higher Taurine levels and significantly lower rates of death from heart disease. As well as reduced cholesterol and blood pressure. It may help reduce high blood pressure by decreasing the resistance to blood flow in the blood vessel walls.
Taurine may also minimise nerve impulses in the brain that cause blood pressure to increase.
Taurine Helps Muscle Contraction
Taurine plays an essential role in muscle function specifically in the contraction and release of skeletal muscle. Taurine deficiency will therefore lead to impaired contractile function for the muscles and heart, with a decline in overall muscle mass and muscular dysfunction.
Contracting and releasing is how your body creates human movement, or kinetic reactions. Without Taurine, your body would be impaired to move freely and create human movement. Studies have shown that your body readily reserves taurine to ensure you can perform essential functions.
Taurine Side Effects
According to all available research, Taurine has no known side effects when used in the recommended amounts. As with many amino-acids, issues may potentilly arise in those with kidney problems.
Most common dosages of Taurine are between 500 – 2000mg, However studies show higher doses of 3g per day for shorter time intervals will also provide health benefits and is well tolerated.
Taurine Health Benefits: Takeaway
Taurine has grown in popularity due to the publicity from energy drinks and pre workout supplements. However, research continues to support proposed health benefits of Taurine on heart health, skeletal muscle health and reducing chronic disease states. Taurine is abundant in animal protein, therefore, with a well-rounded diet, you shouldn’t have too many worries, about being Taurine deficient especially since Taurine is a conditionally essential amino acid. Although important in muscular movement and function, taurine itself is not responsible for building more muscle tissue. In conclusion, Taurine has some great health benefits, and can provide improvements to overall health and wellness.