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The benefits of taurine

Laura Harcourt

Written byLaura Harcourt

Young male in park setting wearing active clothing
What is taurine? An ingredient in energy drinks, taurine could have some benefits like boosting your workouts to supporting your heart health. Learn more here.
Despite being a common ingredient in energy drinks, it’s likely that you’ve never heard of taurine. But, as it turns out, there're many reasons why you should put it on your radar.

Whether you’re looking to boost your performance at the gym or you’re keen to give your body a little extra support, taurine could be your secret weapon. Here’s what you need to know. 

What is taurine?

Taurine is an essential amino acid that’s made naturally by the body.1  It’s found in abundance all over the body, particularly in skeletal muscle.1 Taurine performs several different vital roles around the body, including:2
  • 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

Where does taurine come from?

Taurine is naturally synthesised in the body, and your body should produce enough taurine for you to function.

Typically, taurine is synthesised from meat products, but there’s vegan and vegetarian sources too.3

Meat products that are high in taurine include: 
  • Fish – Studies found that taurine was retained well by tuna and salmon. You can add salmon or tuna to salads or as part of a balanced breakfast. 
  • Beef – The meat in which taurine was originally discovered, hence the name, beef is a fantastic source of taurine.5 Steak, beef shank, or even mince, the possibilities are endless. 
  • Lamb – Another great source of taurine, lamb is a versatile meat that livens up any meal.6 Try to avoid slow-cooking the lamb, as this’ll decrease the levels of taurine in the meat.6 
  • Octopus – For those feeling a little more adventurous, octopus meat was found to be very high in taurine.6 Octopus is great mixed into salads, or try it as a taco filling with chorizo.
If you are vegan or vegetarian, good sources of taurine include: 
  • Seaweed – A recently identified superfood, seaweed is high in a lot of good nutrients, including taurine. Perfect for those on a vegan or vegetarian diet, simply crush nori (the papery seaweed you get on sushi) into soups or as a topper for ramen.

Four potential benefits of taurine

Taurine may have more uses than just an addition to energy drinks. Some emerging and preliminary research has found there are other potential benefits of taurine. More evidence is needed as there are currently no authorised health claims for taurine.

However, from a small sample of studies, here’s some possible benefits of taurine:

1. Taurine could improve your exercise performance

There’s a lot of studies dating as far back as 2011 that show that taking extra taurine leads to higher physical performance in humans.2 Taurine was also shown to increase the time until exhaustion, reduce exercise-induced fatigue and diminish damage from intense exercise.2 This is why taurine is commonly found in energy drinks.

All of this means that adding taurine to your diet could help you have a better workout or sports session, where you’re able to go further, lift more, and exercise for longer without experiencing muscle soreness. Try taking it at the same time you’d take your pre-workout, or at least 60-90 minutes before working out.

We’ve got more information on how taurine supports sports and exercise here.

2. Taurine may be good for your heart

The use of taurine as a therapy to treat heart-related conditions shows a lot of promise. For example, in Japan, taurine has been approved for the treatment of congestive heart failure.2

This is because there’s been a few studies that show taurine can lower cholesterol.2 One study in particular that looked at 50 different groups across 25 different countries showed that having elevated levels of taurine – i.e. more taurine than normal – decreased the risk of heart problems.8

3. Taurine might be able to help with obesity

Obesity can be caused by insulin resistance and certain inflammatory responses.2 As taurine is effective in treating insulin resistance and as an anti-inflammatory, it was suggested that taurine could be effective at also treating obesity.2

A comprehensive review of obesity-taurine studies in 2015 found that taurine had been effective in decreasing the body weight of obese animals and in suppressing inflammatory responses. As much of the research was in small sample sizes and mouse models, more robust trials are needed to determine whether taurine could help with obesity.

4. Taurine might help with arthritis

Taurine is thought to be anti-inflammatory and, therefore, could help with supporting symptoms associated with inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis.2 Taurine protects tissues from oxidative stress associated with the pathology of various inflammatory diseases.10

While more research is needed in this area, taurine has been identified as a potential future drug to treat arthritis.4

Side effects of taurine

There’s no known side effects of adding more taurine to your diet as long as you take it in the correct, recommended amounts.11

FAQs

Is taurine vegan?

Taurine is an amino acid that naturally occurs in the body. Whilst taurine is most commonly found in animal proteins, like meat. You can also find taurine in seaweed, which is vegan.

Is taurine a stimulant?

Taurine itself isn’t a stimulant, so you shouldn’t expect taking taurine to wake you up or help fight fatigue. Instead, taurine is proven to increase the time until exhaustion, reduce any fatigue from exercising, and reduce damage from intense exercise.2

The final say

It's evident that taurine is more than just a popular ingredient in energy drinks. From its benefits in supporting cardiovascular health to its impact on exercise, taurine could be a versatile and beneficial addition to our daily lives.

Disclaimer

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any treatments or remedies.
 

Sources

1. De Luca A, Pierno S, Camerino DC. Taurine: the appeal of a safe amino acid for skeletal muscle disorders. Journal of translational medicine [Internet]. 2015 Dec [cited 2024 Jan 21];13(1):1-8. Available at: https://translational-medicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12967-015-0610-1 [cited multiple times]
2. Schaffer S, Kim HW. Effects and mechanisms of taurine as a therapeutic agent. Biomolecules & therapeutics [Internet]. 2018 May [cited 2024 Jan 21];26(3):225. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5933890/ [cited multiple times
3. Kurtz JA, VanDusseldorp TA, Doyle JA, Otis JS. Taurine in sports and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition [Internet]. 2021 May 26 [cited 2024 Jan 26];18(1):39. Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12970-021-00438-0
4. Gormley TR, Neumann T, Fagan JD, Brunton NP. Taurine content of raw and processed fish fillets/portions. European Food Research and Technology [Internet]. 2007 Sep [cited 2024 Jan 26];225:837-42. Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00217-006-0489-4
5. Purchas RW, Rutherfurd SM, Pearce PD, Vather R, Wilkinson BH. Concentrations in beef and lamb of taurine, carnosine, coenzyme Q10, and creatine. Meat Science [Internet]. 2004 Mar 1 [cited 2024 Jan 26];66(3):629-37. Available at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0309174003001815 [cited multiple times]
6. Lee W, Han EJ, Park E, Shin EJ, Han HJ, Jung K, Heo SJ, Kim EA, Kim KN, Kwak IS, Kim MJ. Hepatoprotective Activity of a Taurine-Rich Water Soluble Extract from Octopus vulgaris Meat. InTaurine 11 [Internet]. 2019 (pp. 691-703) [cited 2024 Jan 26]. Springer Singapore. Available at: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-981-13-8023-5_60
7. Kawasaki A, Ono A, Mizuta S, Kamiya M, Takenaga T, Murakami S. The taurine content of Japanese seaweed. InTaurine 10 [Internet]. 2017 (pp. 1105-1112) [cited 2024 Jan 26]. Springer Netherlands. Available at: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-024-1079-2_88
8. Sagara M, Murakami S, Mizushima S, Liu L, Mori M, Ikeda K, Nara Y, Yamori Y. Taurine in 24-h urine samples is inversely related to cardiovascular risks of middle aged subjects in 50 populations of the world. InTaurine [Internet]. 9 2015 [cited 2024 Jan 21](pp. 623-636). Springer International Publishing. Available at: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-15126-7_50
9. Murakami S. Role of taurine in the pathogenesis of obesity. Molecular nutrition & food research [Internet]. 2015 Jul [cited 2024 Jan 21];59(7):1353-63. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/mnfr.201500067
10. Marcinkiewicz J, Kontny E. Taurine and inflammatory diseases. Amino acids [Internet]. 2014 Jan [cited 2024 Jan 21];46:7-20. Available at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00726-012-1361-4
11. Yoon JA, Choi KS, Shin KO. General characteristics of taurine: a review. Korean J Food Nutr [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2024 Jan 21];28(3):404-14. Available at: http://eksfan.or.kr/journal/article.php?code=32510
 

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