Taurine is amino acid naturally found high concentrations in some body organs, such as the heart, brain, muscles, and eyes. It is helps in balancing electrolytes in your cells and maintaining proper hydration.
Taurine is referred to as a wonder molecule by some researchers due to its perceived benefits. It is an amino acid often added to energy drinks and is also found in many foods. Many researchers claim that taurine can lower the risk of diseases in your body and enhance your sports performance. When consumed responsibly, it has no known side effects. This drink seems to be a darling of many exercise enthusiasts; let’s dive into what you need to know about it.
What is Taurine?
The body naturally forms an amino acid called sulfonic acid, which is also referred to as taurine. Taurine is found in high concentrations in some body organs, such as the heart, brain, muscles, and eyes. It is classified as a conditionally essential amino acid; therefore, you will not need to gorge on proteins to acquire this amino acid. Taurine can be found in certain foods, though the body also produces it under certain conditions. However, individuals with illnesses such as diabetes or heart disease can benefit by taking taurine supplements. The common belief that it comes from a bull’s urine or semen is not true.
Sources of Taurine
Like many other essential amino acids, taurine can be found in animal foods, including fish, meat, and dairy. Though some vegetarian foods also contain taurine, the levels are often limited to optimize the required amounts. Some energy drinks or sodas also have taurine as an additive, providing approximately 1000 mg for every 237 ml serving. Drinking too much soda is not healthy because of other damaging ingredients found in sodas. Most vegans and vegetarians can use taurine supplements or drink them through energy drinks since these are synthetically made without animal products.
Functions of Taurine in the Body
Several body organs have this amino acid in abundance and have numerous benefits. The benefits include:
- They are responsible for balancing electrolytes in your cells and maintaining proper hydration.
- It helps in digestion since it facilitates the production of bile used indigestion.
- Taurine also helps in regulating certain minerals in your cells, such as calcium.
- It gives support to the proper functioning of the body’s central nervous system and your eyes.
- It is also responsible for regulating the functioning of antioxidants and the immune system.
Because taurine is a conditionally essential amino acid, it is not in high demand for a healthy individual; thus, it is found in small quantities in healthy people. Individuals with kidney or heart failure conditions may produce a high amount of taurine to help improve the functions of these organs. Infants with a taurine deficiency often develop complications in poor blood sugar control and impaired brain function.
Taurine and Diabetes
Studies indicate that taurine can help control blood sugar levels, thus compacting diabetes. These studies observed that using taurine supplements on diabetic rats for a long period reduced their fasting blood sugar levels without changing their diets or physical activity. Lower fasting blood sugar levels are a positive indication of good health since high levels are a primary cause for type 2 diabetes and several chronic diseases.
Other animal studies indicate that taurine can reduce insulin resistance and blood sugar levels, thus preventing type 2 diabetes. It is noteworthy that diabetic individuals have low taurine levels, showing that this amino acid can significantly improve this condition.
Taurine and Exercise Performance
Energy drinks infused with taurine are made to boost athletic performance. One animal study showed that taurine enhances muscle performance, making them perform longer, harder, and produce higher force. A mice study observed that the amino acid reduced muscle damage and fatigue during workouts. Many researchers believe that taurine enhances athletic performance by removing waste products that cause muscle burn and fatigue. Taurine could also protect the muscle cells from oxidative stress and cell damage and increase the rate we burn fat during exercise.
Some human studies have also established that taurine supplement helps athletes enhance their exercise performance, covering long distances with minimum fatigue. One controlled study placed participants on a muscle-damaging weightlifting program, the result showed that those supplementing with taurine had fewer markers of muscle soreness and cell damage. Additionally, taurine can improve weight loss by promoting the body to use stored fat as a source of fuel.
Additional Health Benefits
Apart from what we have highlighted so far, studies suggest that taurine has many benefits.
Taurine may improve the functionality of other body functions, such as hearing and eyesight in some populations. One study indicated that supplementing with taurine can eliminate ringing ears, a condition associated with loss of hearing. Additionally, taurine has been shown to improve eyesight since most individuals begin to develop eye problems when taurine levels in their eyes begin to dwindle.
Some studies also suggest that taurine may help treat muscle conditions, such as epilepsy and reduce seizures because it can regulate muscle contractions. Taurine is also found in abundance in your brain and is responsible for calming the central nervous system as it attaches to GABA receptors in your brain.
Taurine can also protect your liver cells from toxin and free radical damage. One study in which two grams of taurine was given trice a day resulted in reduced markers of liver damage and oxidative stress.
Side Effects of Taurine
The available evidence shows that it has no side effects when taurine is used in the correct amounts. Some athletes in Europe died after supplementing with energy drinks having caffeine and taurine, leading some nations to limit or ban the sale of taurine. However, the investigation shows that these athletes died from using high doses of caffeine and other substances.
How to Supplement with Taurine
Researchers examining the limits of taurine toxicity indicate that 3,000 mg per day is still safe even if maintained for a lifetime. They recommend that this level will help you maximize taurine’s benefits without risking toxicity. Using tablets or powdered taurine is considered a cost-effective and easier way of achieving the 3,000 mg levels. Though taurine can be found in dairy, fish, and meat, many people do not consume enough of these animal products to meet the recommended dosages, thus supplementing.
The Bottom Line
Taurine is indeed a wonder molecule with so many health and performance benefits than most supplements. Taurine can be a cost-effective way for athletes looking to enhance their sports performance and general health conditions. The supplement is safe if used in moderation and can help improve your brain, eye, and muscle functions.