One of the most common components found in energy drinks is taurine. With the rise of these energy drinks, taurine has found its way into diet and workout supplements as well as certain nootropics and cognitive enhancing supplements. Some researchers have dubbed taurine a wonder molecule, but there are a variety of misconceptions about this compound. Let’s take a closer look at taurine and how it works in your body to potentially improve your physical performance.
What is Taurine?
Taurine is a conditional amino acid that is scientifically known as 2-aminoethane sulfonic acid. While it can be naturally synthesized in the human body, it can also be found in various dietary sources and created through chemical processes. The compound got its name when it was first isolated in 1827 by Leopold Gmelin and Friedrich Tiedemann. The two German scientists discovered the compound in the bile of an ox. Taurine comes from taurus, the Latin word for ox or bull.
Taurine contains sulfur and has been found to be the most abundant intracellular amino acid in humans. While it is essential for preterm neonates and can be provided via breast milk, taurine is considered a conditionally essential amino acid, meaning that you generally will not need it unless you are sick or stressed. The compound is derived from cysteine but lacks a carboxyl group usually found in amino acids. The carboxyl group is replaced by a sulfide group.
The Main Sources of Taurine
Taurine can naturally be found throughout the body with particularly high concentrations in the eyes, skeletal muscles, heart, brain and central nervous system. The compound is naturally synthesized in the pancreas via the cysteine sulfinic acid pathway. During this process, the sulfhydryl group on the cysteine molecule is oxidized, forming cysteine sulfinic acid. This compound then undergoes decarboxylation, forming hypotaurine, which is eventually converted to taurine.
In terms of diet, the main sources of taurine are in animal-based foods, including:
- Dairy products
Some vegetable-based foods provide taurine in smaller amounts, which is why those following a vegetarian or vegan diet often have the lowest intake levels of the compound.
In recent years, taurine has been added to soda and energy drinks, providing 600 to 1,000 milligrams in a single 8-ounce serving, but these beverages also usually contain high amounts of sodium and sugar along with other ingredients that are harmful to your health.
In an average diet, you will get anywhere from 40 to 400 milligrams of taurine a day, but studies on supplements have been conducted on doses of up to 6,000 milligrams per day.
How Taurine Works in Your Body
Taurine is present in several organs, playing a wide range of roles. It is best known for ensuring proper hydration and balancing electrolytes. Electrolytes are substances that dissolve in water to create an electrically conducting solution. They carry a charge and are necessary to hydration, blood pressure, general nerve and muscle function and other essential processes.
Some of its other direct roles include:
- Forming bile salts, which are involved in digestion
- Regulating antioxidants and immune system health
- Supporting good health of the eyes and central nervous system
- Regulating calcium and other minerals in the cells
As a conditional amino acid, your body can produce the minimal amount of taurine and carry out these essential daily functions with no problems. However, certain people may require higher amounts of taurine, including those who have experience kidney failure and premature infants fed intravenously for a long time. Deficiencies that occur during development may cause poor blood sugar control, impaired brain functions and other serious symptoms.
How Taurine Can Improve Your Performance
Taurine offers a variety of potential benefits to your health and physical performance.
- Reduced cardiovascular disease – Studies have found that taurine can reduce blood pressure and inflammation to significantly reduce your risk of any cardiovascular problems. Some research suggests that taurine may even calm the nervous system and improve the function of your heart’s left ventricle.
- Reduces metabolic syndrome – Metabolic syndrome actually describes a variety of symptoms that increase your risk of stroke, diabetes and heart disease. These symptoms include obesity, high blood pressure, resistance to insulin, low “good” cholesterol levels and high triglyceride (fat) levels. Studies on taurine have found that the compound may potentially combat metabolic syndrome by effectively reducing triglycerides, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and regulating glucose metabolism.
- Relieve periodontal disease – Periodontal disease, or periodontitis, refers to an infection of the gums that can potentially destroy the jawbone. It is a risk factor for heart and lung disease. As an antioxidant, taurine may help to neutralize the free radicals that cause oxidative stress and damage, like that involved in periodontal disease. A study showed that taurine could efficiently increase antioxidant enzymes to improve the healing process.
- Decrease side effects of Parkinson’s – According to research, taurine can help regenerate the brain cells by stimulating stem cells and increasing the longevity of neurons. Parkinson’s patients have been found to have low levels of taurine.
Taurine has also been shown to improve various elements of your athletic performance.
- Animal studies show that taurine may allow your muscles to work harder and longer.
- Other animal studies suggest that taurine can help muscles contract and produce force.
- The compound can help to remove the waste products that cause fatigue and the burning soreness in your muscles.
- Taurine can increase fat burning and processing during exercise.
- The compound can also protect muscles from oxidative stress and cell damage.
If you think you could benefit from more taurine, avoid sodas and energy drinks. Instead, try a supplement like mTOR Pro™ from MYOKEM™. mTOR Pro™ is an elite branched chain amino acid supplement that offers 10.5 grams of essential amino acids with every serving. The supplement comprises a unique formula that includes taurine, to increase physical performance, hydration, and recovery while improving your absorption of amino acids.