When energy drinks became popular, a lot of discussion was going on about taurine. Information was provided from left, right and centre: according to some it was beneficial, many thought it was not. It wasn’t clear at all if it was harmful to our health or should we consumer higher quantities of taurine. In the meanwhile we had no idea what it was for and why energy drinks contained taurine or where else could taurine be found? From this article you can learn why is taurine useful for the body, what are the effects of taurine on athletes and on those who do not sport actively and how much should we consume. The effect of taurine is still continuously researched these days and it seems that you can also benefit if you get to know more this amino acid, which can be found in your body in relatively significant amounts and plays several crucial roles in the body.
What is taurine and what does it do the body?
Taurine is an amino acid, which is also found in the body in natural form. In addition to caffeine, taurine is often added to energy drinks. Taurine is not a stimulant, but it has a stimulating effect on the brain function.
Taurine plays several important roles in your muscles. It plays also a role in the healthy operation of the heart, as according to researchers it reduces blood pressure and regulates the body’s calcium level and thereby reduces the risk of arteriosclerosis, which entails reducing the risk of heart attack. It is also important to mention the effect of taurine on the nervous system. Taurine supports communication between the neurons, protects the nerves and promotes the maintenance of the cell membranes in the body.
According to certain researches, taurine and caffeine perfectly complement each other in a way that they both improve physical and mental performance and therefore it is not a coincidence that they often used together in energy drinks. Taurine boosts physical performance by helping the flow of glucose to the muscles, thus ensuring primary energy source for operation.
Taurine is popular among body builders, as it helps in protein synthesis, thus supports the growth of muscle mass. Researches also highlight its calming effect on the nervous system, which can help us fighting anxiety. Taurine is also used by patients suffering from epilepsy for reducing seizures.
A diet rich in taurine
Taurine is a sulphur amino acid. In contrast to other amino acids, taurine is not incorporated into protein structures. It is found in the intercellular fluid. An adult is able to produce taurine from amino acids, however during infancy the body is unable to produce taurine, but babies receive taurine supply from breastmilk. Many foodstuffs contain taurine. Foodstuffs with a high amino acid content – namely with high protein content- such as fish contain higher levels of taurine. Mackerel has especially high taurine content, but animal meat also represent a good taurine source. Even birds and insects contain taurine, while beef liver, chicken meat or lamb meat contain very high levels of taurine. Vegetables growing in the ground do not contain any taurine, but sea algae proves to be an excellent source of taurine. Taurine can be also found in high quantities in mussels, crabs and seafood.
What is the recommended dosage of taurine?
An average daily diet contains around 40 to 400 mg taurine.
The recommended daily supplementary dosage of taurine is between 500 and 2000 mg. For athletes and people performing heavy physical work this daily quantity can be increased up to 3000 mg.
According to tests this dosage does not strain the kidneys. Currently there are no such studies available, which assess the effects of long-term and high dosage taurine consumption. The 3000 mg daily dosage is said to be safe also in the long term. According to tests, the daily meat and fish consumption is not sufficient for supplying the required daily dosage, thus if you wish to maximise the benefits of taurine consumption, it is worth considering increasing your taurine intake by dietary supplements.
It is also important to note that with aging the body’s taurine production reduces. Higher taurine intake is recommended for those, who wish to enjoy more benefits of taurine consumption. Meaning that if you suffer from high blood pressure, if your work is stressful or if you follow a diet with low level of meat intake, it is worth increasing your taurine consumption. Athletes shall also optimise the intake of taurine, both in case of endurance sports or power training aimed increasing muscle mass. Taurine also improves endurance and the growth of muscle mass.
Effects of taurine as dietary supplement
It is beneficial to consume certain active agents, because their intake can be provided easily, it does not require any preparation, cooking or baking. Furthermore we can provide the intake of the given active agent without other nutrients contained by foodstuffs or without useless nutrient sources. Even though the human body is able to produce taurine, there are certain situations when the active agents required for taurine production are not available in the required amount, which can result in taurine deficiency. This could be for example a strict diet. If taurine deficiency is caused in the body, the risk of inflammation and calcium depositing is higher and as a result calcification may also start. If you also exercise, hydration can also be an issue and muscle cramps may also occur. Taurine as an antioxidant is supporting the operation of the body, upon taurine deficiency we also have to calculate with the arising issues. Taurine deficiency may also cause disturbance in the normal operation of the retina, but depression, nervousness, hear impairment, high blood pressure, weight gain and regeneration issues may also indicate the lack of taurine in the body.
There is no research available about the excess use of taurine, according to current research if taurine is correctly applied it is also safe to take a daily 3000 mg of taurine lifelong.
Does taurine actually increase life expectancy?
Rumour has it that among Japanese people the number of persons aged 100 or over is higher. Researchers are still looking at their diet for clues, as the nation eats a lot fish and algae, which are rich in taurine. A researcher found that according to tests carried out in a town with the highest number of residents over the age of 100 the risk of arteriosclerosis and gastric cancer is a lot lower and also the risk of developing hormonal based cancer, such as breast cancer or prostate cancer. Research into the Japanese diet showed that Japanese eat fish at least three times a week, alongside huge amounts of whole wheat cereals and vegetables, but also prawns and octopus rich in taurine. According to research the last two reduce cholesterol level and blood pressure. Researches showed that dietary habits are clearly related to long life expectancy, but taurine is only one of the ingredients having an impact on health.
Taurine and vigilance
If you think about the reason why energy drinks contain taurine, obviously you will get to the conclusion that it keeps you awake. Sadly, this is a misconception.
|Taurine improves the quality of sleep. When you cannot relax or you are nervous when going to sleep, the calming effect of taurine can help you.
This effect is due to the fact, that taurine increases GABA quantity, which has a soothing effect on the nervous system. It contributes to the reduction of stress hormones. As taurine empties quickly from the body as a result of stress or intense workout, taurine deficiency can occur easily, especially if you are not consuming meat and meat products. The vitalising effect connected to energy drinks is achieved when taurine is combined with caffeine, in a way that the quantity of taurine is less or equal to the quantity of caffeine added. This combination has an effect that prevents you from going to sleep. If the taurine quantity is higher, it has a soothing, relaxing effect. Consume 2000 to 3000 mg taurine before going to sleep, if you are having sleeping problems.
In summary, taurine is an excellent choice, if:
- you are looking for an antioxidant with all health benefits
- you are suffering from cardiovascular issues
- you are fighting overweight
- you wish to improve your performance
- you are afraid of stimulants, such as caffeine
- you are following a vegetarian diet
- you have a stressful life
- you intensively exercise.
If any of the above apply to you, it is worth thinking about the protection of your nervous system and cardiovascular system by using this versatile antioxidant active substance. It is available as diet supplement in many shapes and forms, make it a dietary supplement powder or pill. In this way you can take taurine easily, you can take it anywhere, so also excellent for your workout even with a cup of coffee!