Never heard of taurine? A common ingredient in energy drinks, there are many reasons why you might want to put this substance on your radar.
Whether you’re looking to boost your performance at the gym or you’re keen to give your most vital organs a little extra support, here’s what you need to know about taurine.
What is taurine?
Taurine is an essential amino acid that’s actually made naturally by the body. It’s found in abundance in the eyes, heart, brain and muscles.1 Unlike many other amino acids, taurine is not used to make protein. Instead, taurine performs several different vital roles around the body, including2:
- Keeping the levels of calcium in specific cells under control
- Maintaining the balance of electrolytes in your cells, so your body stays hydrated
- Creating bile salts which are needed for digestion
- Supporting your central nervous system
- Supporting the health of your immune system
Benefits of taurine
While you should be able to produce all the taurine you need by yourself, it might be necessary to add extra either through your diet or by taking a supplement. Possible benefits of having extra taurine include3:
Improving your exercise performance
Taurine plays a vital role in regulating muscle function and may potentially lower your risk of muscle fatigue when you’re working out. It’s also thought to protect the muscles from damage, allowing you to exercise for longer without experiencing muscle soreness.4 For more information, read 'What is taurine and can it help with sports and exercise?'.
Supporting your metabolism
As taurine is used to create bile salts, it plays a crucial role in healthy digestion. Being able to digest food efficiently into energy could potentially improve your overall metabolism.5
Supporting the heart and brain
Taurine is present in both the brain and the heart. It helps keep them functioning correctly, with studies showing that high taurine levels in the brain potentially reduce your likelihood of age-related neurological disorders.6 When it comes to the heart, taurine can aid in lowering both blood pressure and cholesterol.7
You’ll find this type of amino acid in high amounts in the eyes. It’s thought to help protect the retina from degeneration and may even have some success at reducing optic nerve damage.8
Good sources of taurine
If you’re looking to boost your taurine count, there are many foods which contain this beneficial amino acid. Unfortunately, almost all of them are unsuitable for vegans or vegetarians. 9
You will find that taurine is sometimes added to vegetarian substitute products or energy drinks, although not typically in high amounts. What’s more, energy drinks often contain lots of caffeine or sugar, which can be bad for the body. Not to worry, though, as there’s always the option of taking a taurine supplement instead!
Side effects of taurine
Fortunately, there are no known side effects of adding more taurine to your diet as long as you take it in the correct amounts.10 If you’re opting for a taurine supplement, make sure you follow the dosage instructions carefully on the back of the packet.
You’ll discover numerous supplement options containing taurine in our sports nutrition amino acids range.
Last updated: 19 April 2021