After glutamine, taurine is the most abundant amino acid in the muscle tissue. It is also a conditionally essential amino acid, indispensable for certain periods of our life, like growth, pregnancy…
- 1. What is Taurine?
- 2. Where is Taurine available?
- 3. How is Taurine produced?
- 4. What are the functions of Taurine?
- 5. Dose of Taurine
- 6. What is the best source of Taurine?
- 7. Foods that contain Taurine
- 8. Causes of a deficiency in the production of Taurine
- 9. Symptoms of a taurine deficiency
- 10. Properties of Taurine
- 11. Benefits of Taurine
- 12. Taurine and Diabetes
- 13. Taurine and athletes
- 14. Supplements and Dose of Taurine
- 15. Side effects of Taurine
- 16. L-Taurine and energy drinks
- 17. Frequently asked questions about L-Taurine
- 18. Combine Taurine with…
- 19. Where can I buy Taurine?
- 20. Bibliography
- 21. Related Entries
What is Taurine?
It is a non-essential amino acid since our body synthesizes it naturally. But we can also obtain it through the diet (animal protein). Unlike other amino acids, it does not bind to protein. In fact, it exists as a free amino acid in most of the tissues from animals.
Actually, many people take supplementation regularly, to the point that researchers refer to it as the miracle molecule. This is due to its benefits for health, such as improving the performance and lowering the risk of suffering diseases.
Where is Taurine available?
It is specially available in the organs of the body where there is electric activity. For instance, the eyes, brain, muscles, heart, platelets, or nervous system.
How is Taurine produced?
- Naturally: our organism synthesizes it in the pancreas through the oxidation of the amino acid cysteine.
- Synthetically: due to a high commercial demand.
Those who suffer heart problems or diabetes can also obtain many benefits from taking taurine.
However, many people mistakenly believe that taurine comes from the urine or sperm of bulls. Evidently, this is completely false. In fact, the confusion may be due to the fact that its name comes from the Latin word taurus, which means bull or ox.
Due to its properties, taurine could be considered a multi-functional nutrient
What are the functions of Taurine?
Taurine is useful for
- Regulating the fluid balance and the electrolyte balance of the cells.
- Supporting the formation of bile salts, which play an important role in the digestion.
- Regulating the function of minerals in the cells, like calcium.
- Helping with the functioning of the central nervous system and eyes.
- Regulating the immune system and the antioxidant function
A healthy person will produce a low amount of this amino acid since it is conditionally essential. Therefore, the body will produce enough to perform the previous functions on a daily basis.
However, we may need higher amounts of taurine in certain situations. Then, it becomes an essential nutrient. For example, people with heart or renal failure, as well as premature babies will need an intravenous supply.
A deficiency during growth can cause serious damage, like a alteration of the brain function and a deficient glycemic control.
Dose of Taurine
Ovo-lacto-vegetarians obtain 17 milligrams approximately. On the contrary, those who follow a vegan diet cannot obtain taurine from food.
What is the best source of Taurine?
Knowing how important this amino acid is for our health, some have proposed using taurine to enrich child products. This is due to the fact that cow milk has lower concentrations than breast milk.
One of the best sources of taurine is breast milk during the first months of our lives.
Breast milk has a high percentage of taurine and other essential nutrients. Therefore, it is extremely important to feed it to newborns as much as possible.
Healthy adults can synthesize taurine from sulfur amino acids, like cysteine and methionine. As we mentioned, this means that it is a semi-essential nutrient. However, newborns and people who suffer specific diseases may need supplementation in order to meet their requirements.
Foods that contain Taurine
- Eggs and Dairy products, like Cheese, Milk, and/or Yogurt. They tend to provide from 2 to 8mg per 100ml.
- Meat, like Turkey, Chicken, and/or Beef. Usually, they provide between 11 and 306mg per 100g.
- Fish and Seafood, like Mackerel, Salmon, Oysters, and/or Crab. From 11 to 827mg per 100g.
- Breast milk and/or products for children. Between 4 and 7mg per 100ml.
A healthy person will meet the taurine requirements with a balanced diet.
Vegan sources of Taurine
Some of the sources are: soy, quinoa, legumes, hemp, buckwheat, or amaranth.
Taurine is specially abundant in meat and seafood. In this sense, vegans and/or vegetarians should be aware of this factor.
Causes of a deficiency in the production of Taurine
Symptoms of a taurine deficiency
- Nervous system: neuromuscular problems.
- Cardiovascular system: cardiomyopathy.
- Ocular system: macular degeneration and retina disorders.
- Digestive system: disorders in the digestion of fat and kidney stones.
Macular degeneration is a disorder that deteriorates our sight
Properties of Taurine
Some of its main properties are:
Improving the absorption of micronutrients
This amino acid is similar to creatine. In fact, it increases the size of muscle cells so that they can retain more water and increase their volume. Moreover, it also helps to stimulate the protein synthesis which improves the hypertrophy.
Technically, it is not an amino acid since it lacks a carboxyl group, unlike other amino acids. However, the scientific and medical literature classify it as an amino acid.
Taurine also enhances the focus apart from improving the cognitive and physical state due to its effects on the neuromuscular system. In fact, it helps to lower the blood glucose level, regulates the blood pressure, improves the resistance, and shortens the muscle recovery.
Benefits of Taurine
For the cardiovascular function
It is the most important and abundant amino acid in the heart. In fact, one of its main tasks is to support the cardiovascular health. It does so by improving the blood flow and the oxygen supply to the heart cells. Therefore, it increases the effectiveness of the contractions of the heart muscle and regulates the heartbeat.
There are more and more studies about taurine and its ability to protect from a possible heart attack.
Actually, the studies have shown how taking taurine for a short time can improve the bodily functions. Moreover, it can also lower the cardiovascular risk that can occur after physical exercise and problems related to heart failure. Nevertheless, we still need more studies, although it could be promising for those who suffer a heart disease.
A study tested how taurine supplementation for two weeks reduced the arterial hardening in type I diabetes. In other words, it improves the heartbeat and the blood flow throughout the whole body.
Moreover, they found out that taking taurine supplements reduces the inflammation and arterial hardening. Consequently, we could say that it considerably lowers the risk of suffering a heart disease.
For the metabolic syndrome
There are some people who have more chances of suffering from metabolic syndrome. For instance, those who suffer heart diseases, strokes, diabetes, renal diseases or cancer. Moreover, there are other related health problems such as obesity, hypertension, insulin resistance, high triglycerides and low HDL levels.
Actually, there was a report published by the Food & Function journal that assessed the ability of taurine to deal with the metabolic syndrome. After analyzing the reaction on both humans and animals, they concluded that “taurine is effect against the metabolic syndrome. Therefore, it is beneficial for the following aspects: lowering the triglycerides; preventing obesity; improving the insulin resistance; regulating the glucose metabolism; lowering the cholesterol to prevent hypercholesterolemia; lowering the blood pressure.”
A study conducted on smokers with diabetes, assessed how a daily dose of 1500mg of taurine for two weeks regulated the blood pressure. In fact, it reversed the early endothelial abnormalities (Endothelium = internal lining of the blood vessels).
For the brain function
It modulates the neurotransmitters in the brain and helps to stabilize the cell membranes. Moreover, it is beneficial for the bladder, eyes, blood vessels, and it has antioxidant and detoxifying properties.
For the visual system
Taurine is very important for our hearing. In fact, the studies have found out that taurine can revert the biochemical processes of hearing loss. Other studies have proven how taurine can eliminate the ringing in the ears caused by tinnitus almost completely.
Most of the damage to our hearing does not actually occur in its corresponding area, rather, it damages the nerve cells. These are the cells that transform the sound waves in electric energy that is processed by our brain. They are called cilia and they depend on the calcium ion flow. Actually, taurine helps to reestablish and control the calcium ion flow in our hearing cells.
It improves the audition of animals that have taken drugs, like the gentamicin antibiotic which damages our hearing. In addition, it can relieve the ringing in the ears caused by chronic tinnitus in an 17% of the cases.
A study on animals used a dose between 700mg and 3.2g of taurine supplementation for several weeks. In the end, they managed to eliminate the tinnitus almost completely. Moreover, a pilot study conducted on people provided inspiring results: a 12% of the participants had a positive response to the taurine supplementation.
For the female hormone system
The estradiol female hormone reduces the formation of taurine in the liver.
It also regulates excessive liquid retention during the menstrual period (PMS).
To cope with stress
The body has complex mechanisms that help to counter the harmful effects of stress. It does this from a systemic focus and from specific organs, known as NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response.
Taurine can produce a calming effect in order to relax the organism after experiencing a situation of this kind. Particularly, it can reduce the release of adrenaline.
The studies suggest that taurine can help to regenerate the brain cells. The tests that have been performed on Parkinson patients showed that they have low taurine levels.
In fact, taurine has the ability to increase the growth of brain cells by stimulating the stem cells and prolonging the lifespan of neurons. Moreover, it appears that the hippocampus can produce new brain cells if we eat food rich in taurine or supplementation.
Taurine works really well with glycine in order to stimulate the brain
Against the free radicals
Taurine is an antioxidant. This means that it can help to fight against the free radicals an any substance that triggers oxidative stress. The researchers have examined people who suffer chronic periodontal disease in order to see if taurine can support their healing.
According to the data, taurine can considerably improve the antioxidant levels by increasing lipid peroxidation products (TBARS) and antioxidant enzymes. Therefore, it can help to improve the healing processes.
Other benefits of taurine for health
Taurine has multiple benefits for our health. In fact, it improves several bodily functions, such as the ability to see and listen of people who suffer specific pathologies.
In one of the studies conducted on humans, they noticed how a 12% of the subjects who took dietary taurine supplement did no longer listen a ringing in their ear, which is related with hearing loss.
Moreover, taurine also plays an important role in the regulation of muscle contractions. Therefore, it helps to reduce the convulsions and to treat diseases such as epilepsy.
Moreover, it also protects the hepatic cells against the free radicals and oxidative damage. A study showed how taking two grams of taurine three times a day reduced the hepatic damage and oxidative stress.
However, most of these benefits still require further research
Taurine and Diabetes
This amino acid helps to regulate the blood sugar and it has benefits for those who suffer diabetes
The studies conducted on rats with diabetes showed how taurine supplements could lower the blood sugar levels on an empty stomach in the long term. In fact, it was not necessary to change the diet or do physical exercise.
The sugar levels on an empty stomach are quite important. This is because high levels are a key factor in type 2 diabetes and many other chronic diseases.
Surprisingly, the taurine levels of people with diabetes tend to be lower than those of healthy people. Therefore, we can conclude that it could play a decisive role in this disease.
Taurine and athletes
This substance supports the sport performance. In fact, the studies about taurine have found out that it can:
Taurine has a series of benefits for athletes
- Make the muscles work harder for longer.
- Increase the ability of the muscles to contract and to produce more strength
- Counter the waste products that cause fatigue, also known as muscle pain.
- Protect the muscles against cell damage and oxidative stress.
- Enhance the fat burning processes during the workout
Another study backs up the role of taurine when it comes to reducing muscle pain. In this case, the participants did weightlifting and taurine helped them relieve the damage and pain.
Better sport performance
The clinical studies state that taurine improves the sport performance. In fact, a study was conducted by the Sports Science and Health Research Group from the University of Stirling in Scotland. They analyzed the performance of medium distance runners before and after taking taurine supplementation.
The result was that a 90% of runners improved their marks in terms of seconds. However, a few seconds can make a difference for these athletes, specially to beat a record.
These runners took 1000 milligrams of taurine two hours before the race. The supplement did not affect the respiratory pathways, the heartbeat or blood lactate levels. In the end, the result was clearly a superior performance. They proved that taurine enhances the performance during the race with a 99.3% of possibilities.
However, other studies provided different results. A study was published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. It was conducted on fifteen runners who had to run on a treadmill for 15 minutes. The participants drank a wide range of energy drinks with caffeine and taurine. In the end, the researchers concluded that:
“The results do not show benefits for the performance in the conditions of this study. But there seems to be a considerably increase of the systolic blood pressure”
Supplement during cutting phase
Supplements and Dose of Taurine
The recommended dose supplementation is between 500-2000mg a day.
However, its toxicity limit is much higher than that. In fact, even doses over 2000mg are well tolerated. The clinical studies that want to assess the dose used between 400 and 6000mg a day.
Nevertheless, we still need more studies in order to confirm said toxicity threshold. Moreover, we need to take into account that the body eliminates the taurine excess through the kidneys. Consequently, it could potentially damage them, specially those who suffer renal failure. Then, it is necessary to consult your doctor previously.
Is Taurine safe?
The clinical studies about its safety have suggested that even taking up to 3000mg a day throughout our lives is still safe.
Some studies use a higher dose for shorter periods of time. But 3000mg a day is enough to obtain all the benefits of taurine within a safe dose.
Taurine in energy drinks
It is an ingredient that tends to be used in energy drinks. In fact, they can contain between 600 and 1000mg in just 235ml.
Side effects of Taurine
According to the research available, it does not have side effects as long as we take the recommended dose.
Nevertheless, the cause of these deaths is not clear. In fact, it could also be due to high doses of other substances.
Like what happens with most amino acids, those who suffer renal diseases can actually have problems.
L-Taurine and energy drinks
Did you know that the number of hospital emergencies due to energy drinks has been doubled in the last few years?
Everyone knows that these drinks also contain caffeine. Some contain taurine, but the high dose of caffeine may be the one to blame this time.
According to the European Food Safety Authority, taking up to 3000mg of taurine daily “does not produce adverse effects”
However, energy drinks still have many other ingredients that are actually harmful. For example, they have a high sugar and caffeine content, as well as color additives, flavor enhancer…
In contrast, taurine supplements have many benefits for our cardiovascular health. Moreover, they have antioxidant effects that stimulate the muscles and, therefore, improve the sport performance.
Safety of energy drinks
The media has reported more than once that adolescents have died due to a caffeine overdose
In one of these cases, the adolescent took three different drinks in a short period of time. He did not suffer any heart disease, but the energy drink triggered an arrhythmia. When this happens, the heart either beats too fast, very slow or irregularly.
But it was not due to the taurine content. Rather, the authorities mentioned that up to 400 milligrams of caffeine, or five cups of coffee a day, is generally regarded as safe. However, taking 0.95 liters of energy drinks have harmful effects because they alter the blood pressure and functioning of the heart. Currently, there are around 500 energy drinks available in the market. Therefore, we can imagine the number of hospital emergencies caused by an excess of this type of drinks.
Frequently asked questions about L-Taurine
How to take taurine?
Who can benefit from taking taurine?
- Those who want to enrich their diet with this amino acid.
- Anyone who wants to follow a healthy lifestyle
Is taurine safe?
Its consumption has not reported side effects or toxicity. However, it is advisable to consult a professional before adding it to our diet. This will ensure that we preserve the balance and functioning of our organism.
Is taurine an stimulant?
Combine Taurine with…
This is due to their osmoregulating function. They can provide energy just before a workout under adverse climatic conditions. Or depending on the person in terms of sweat, in order to ensure a proper hydration.
We will obtain both cognitive and physical benefits by combining taurine + caffeine. In fact, it can improve the absorption of taurine.
It is advisable to combine taurine + magnesium to sleep better. Together, they will help us cope with stress, calm the nervous system and, thus, have a deeper and restful sleep. Moreover, our mood will improve on a daily basis together with our feeling of well-being.
Taurine is an agonist of GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid). In fact, it stimulates its receptors in order to encourage a state of relaxation and well-being
GABA is the main inhibitory or calming neurotransmitter. It regulates the serotonin levels, which means that it affects the mood.
The effect is similar to that of GABA. Therefore, it can help to relieve the anxiety, tension, depression and insomnia.
Where can I buy Taurine?
- Szymanski K, Winiarska K. [Taurine and its potential therapeutic application]. Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2008 Feb 25;62:75-86.
- Bidri M, Choay P. Taurine: a particular aminoacid with multiple functions. Ann Pharm Fr. 2003 Nov;61(6):385-91.
- Waldron M, Patterson SD, Tallent J3, Jeffries O. The Effects of an Oral Taurine Dose and Supplementation Period on Endurance Exercise Performance in Humans: A Meta-Analysis. Sports Med. 2018 May;48(5):1247-1253. doi: 10.1007/s40279-018-0896-2.
- Da Silva LA, Tromm CB, Bom KF, Mariano I, Pozzi B, da Rosa GL, Tuon T, da Luz G, Vuolo F, Petronilho F, Cassiano W, De Souza CT, Pinho RA. Effects of taurine supplementation following eccentric exercise in young adults. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2014 Jan;39(1):101-4. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2012-0229.
- Spriet LL , Whitfield J. Taurine and skeletal muscle function. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2015 Jan;18(1):96-101. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000135.
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