It’s been called a “wonder molecule” by some researchers who have studied it and, at this point, several unique health benefits have been confirmed.
In this article, we’ll answer questions like:
- What Is Taurine?
- Why Do People Supplement With It?
- What Are The Benefits?
- What Is An Effective Dosage?
- Are There Side Effects?
And a whole lot more…
So if you’re ready to dive into the wonderful world of Taurine, let’s do it!
What Is Taurine?
Taurine is a sulfur-containing amino acid which is widely distributed throughout the body. It has been referred to as a “wonder molecule” because of the wide range of potential benefits it provides.
Our bodies can synthesize it from the amino acids Cysteine and Methionine, but it’s also found in some foods like:
Particularly high concentrations are found in the heart, brain, skeletal muscle, and white blood cells (also called Leukocytes). For that reason, much of the research into the potential benefits has focused on these key areas of the body.
Taurine has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that ultimately give it a wide range of potential health implications.
Why Do People Use Taurine Supplements?
Taurine is used as a supplement for a variety of purposes.
- Improving Insulin Sensitivity
- Exercise Performance
- Exercise Recovery
- Organ Protection
Some of the alleged benefits have more research behind them than others…
What Are The Benefits of Taurine?
Taurine has been investigated for a variety of health and performance benefits. However, some of the research is still in the preliminary stages.
It’s important to separate the benefits into two categories: proven benefits and potential benefits. Unfortunately, a lot of the potential benefits are often misrepresented as proven benefits by supplement companies.
Taurine Is A Powerful Anti-Oxidant
Taurine has long been known to possess potent antioxidant properties which are thought to underlie a fair amount of the established benefits.
It has been shown to protect against oxidative damage in the Heart, Testes, Kidneys, and Liver. It’s worth mentioning that most of the exercise related benefits are believed to be due to its role as an antioxidant.
The Insulin sensitizing effects are also believed to be due to antioxidant properties. Although Taurine does have another mechanism by which it can support the health of virtually all cells in the body (it’s an Osmolyte), the antioxidant benefits have been observed in just about every major tissue in which Taurine is concentrated.
Some researchers have posited that a high dietary Taurine intake is an underlying factor of longevity in Japanese people.
Taurine Enhances Exercise Recovery
Due to the established role of Taurine as an antioxidant, a few studies have actually looked directly at how it impact exercise recovery.
In mice, it has been shown to protect against oxidative damage and exercise-induced injury, due to it’s cellular protective properties. But what about humans? Something that works in mice doesn’t necessarily work in humans. In fact, a lot of supplements are over-hyped based on rodent studies and then turn out to be useless in humans.
Well, fortunately for us, there’s been quite a few studies in humans with the aim of evaluating aspects exercise recovery.
One study found that Taurine supplementation prevented exercise-induced oxidative damage in healthy, young male subjects who exercised till exhaustion.
When combined with BCAAs, Taurine has also been shown to reduce muscle damage and Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) resulting from exercise to a greater degree than BCAAs alone. A similar reduction in muscle soreness was replicated in a 2014 study and again in a 2015 study as well.
If you take a step back and look at the research on exercise recovery as a whole, it’s quite clear that Taurine supplementation can prevent excessive muscle damage and muscle soreness. This makes it worth using by just about anyone who exercises regularly.
Taurine Supports Fat-Loss
Research indicates that Taurine levels tend to be significantly lower in obese people.
In 2004, Japanese researchers at Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University found that supplementation reduced body weight as well as parameters of lipid metabolism over the course of 7 weeks.
The subjects in this study were NOT Diabetic, but were obese.
Another study found that Taurine supplementation increased fat-oxidation with just one (acute) dose taken prior to exercise.
It’s worth mentioning, however, that one study (in humans) failed to find an impact on body weight, despite improving fat metabolism and reducing inflammation.
Overall, there is certainly enough evidence to conclude that Taurine can help facilitate fat-loss. Of course, as with any supplement, the most likely individuals to benefit are those who are overweight or obese to begin with.
Taurine May Improve Insulin Sensitivity
As briefly mentioned above in the antioxidant section, the benefits related to blood glucose and insulin sensitivity appear to be due to Taurines role as an antioxidant at the cellular level.
I would be doing my job, however, if I didn’t mention that at least one study has failed to find any influence on insulin secretion or insulin sensitivity in overweight human subjects.
Right now, results are definitely mixed. Animal studies show benefits but human studies are less encouraging. Further studies are required to see if maybe this is just a matter of dosing, or if it has more to do with physiological differences between species.
Taurine May Improve Exercise Performance
A few studies have looked specifically at how Taurine can impact exercise performance.
One study found that supplementation 2 hours prior to exercise resulted in improved running performance. Specifically, subjects improved time trial performance by an average of 1.7%. This may seem minor, but how many races are won by a narrow window? A lot…
It’s worth mentioning, however, that one study has failed to find any sort of performance enhancement in well-trained cyclists.
The reason for the discrepancy between the 2 studies that found benefit and the lone study that failed is unknown. It’s possible that supplementation is more beneficial for beginners, rather than trained athletes. That’s just a theory though. More studies are needed for sure.
Taurine Supports Skin And Eye Health
In certain animals (like monkeys and cats), Taurine deficiency is associated with degradation of the retina and impaired vision. While its antioxidant properties may have something to do with this, there appears to be another mechanism at work here.
By hydrating the retina and supporting cellular health, Taurine may be able to improve eye-health.
This same mechanism (the ability to draw water into cells) may also improve skin health and aesthetics. Interestingly, Taurine appears to be better at protecting against UV radiation than other osmolytes (Betaine and Inositol).
Taurine May Support Healthy Testosterone
In males, Taurine is particularly concentrated in the Testes where it is believed to have a protective role.
In mice, it has been shown to prevent declining Testosterone levels due to chemical stressors like:
Additionally, Taurine has been shown to increase Testosterone levels in male rats. Unfortunately, human studies are lacking.
One human study has failed to find any sort of influence on Testosterone levels using a multi-ingredient supplement which contained Taurine.
Right now, it seems like Taurine probably doesn’t outright “boost” Testosterone levels, but instead has a protective role in instances when Testosterone levels would normally decline.
The thing about ALL SUPPLEMENTS is that they’re only going to be effective if they’re dosed correctly…
The clinical dose of a supplement is the dose at which that supplement was proven effective in a clinical setting (a documented study).
When people say things like “supplements don’t work”, they’re wrong.
Under-dosed supplements don’t work. Unfortunately, due to supplement companies trying to cut costs, most supplements are under-dosed….so they don’t work.
Taurine may be less susceptible to being under-dosed than other supplement ingredients though. It’s cheap and virtually tasteless so some companies even use it as a filler.
Still, you want to make sure you’re getting at least 1-3 grams per day. Higher doses may be more effective, but for the majority of the benefits, 1-3g/day will do the trick.
Does Taurine Have Any Side Effects?
Taurine is considered entirely safe, even at doses of 3g/day for many years. High doses have also been well-tolerated in studies so it’s very unlikely that Taurine will cause any sort of health detriments at standard supplemental doses.
Due to the fact that it functions as an osmolyte, taking a higher dose of Taurine at once time could potentially make you thirstier.
This is simply because Taurine is drawing water into your cells, thereby increasing the demand for more water.
It’s nothing overwhelming, but it’s just something to keep in mind if you’re going to be giving Taurine a shot.
What Kind Of Results Can You Expect With Taurine Supplementation?
The general health benefits of Taurine aren’t going to be necessarily noticeable, but the performance benefits will be. Assuming you’re using a clinical dose of Taurine from a reliable, trustworthy brand, you can expect:
- Less Muscle Soreness
- Faster Recovery
- Maybe Some Fat-Loss
- Better Pumps/Hydration
Of course, there may be other benefits, but these are the ones you’ll actually notice.
Why Is Taurine Found In Energy Drinks?
Nobody really knows…
The first energy drink to use Taurine as a key ingredient was Red Bull.
Originally, Taurine was rumored to be derived from Bull sperm but this is not true. It’s really just a random ingredient that doesn’t really have anything to do with providing energy.
After Red Bull became extremely popular, other energy drinks like Monster and Rockstar basically just copied the formula, including Taurine.
No energy drink manufacturer seems to have a solid reason for including Taurine and, in all honesty, it probably just has to do with the fact that it’s virtually tasteless and can easily be mixed into a beverage without ruining the taste.
What Other Supplements Go Well With Taurine?
It’s important to understand that no one supplement is going to magically change you’re life, and Taurine is no different.
There are definitely some health benefits to be had, but if you really want to maximize things like exercise recovery and performance, it’s best to incorporate Taurine along with other clinically studied supplements.
That’s why I included Taurine in my intra-workout supplement, Amino Beyond, along with a handful of other highly effective ingredients that have been proven to do things like:
- enhance muscular endurance
- reduce muscle soreness
- help you recover faster from exercise
- preserve muscle mass
- support immune function
Taurine is certainly a key ingredient, but Amino Beyond also contains the following:
- Citrulline Malate – proven to increase the amount of reps you can do and enhance recovery
- BCAAs – works synergistically with Taurine to improve recovery
- L-Carnitine L-Tartrate – shown to reduce oxidative damage in muscle tissue and enhance recovery
Amino Beyond also contains no fillers, artificial dyes, or unnecessary junk.
The Bottom Line On Taurine
Taurine has a variety of health benefits, from anti-aging to exercise improvement to skin and organ health.
You can get it from food, but the average diet doesn’t contain enough to provide any sort of noticeable benefit, so you need to supplement with it.
The good news is that Taurine is pretty cheap, and assuming you get it from a reliable source, you only need to take between 1 and 3 grams per day to derive the majority of the benefits.