Taurine: Health Benefits & 15 Totally Titillating Tidbits
Written by Orlaith Costello
Taurine is a wonder molecule you shouldn't keep out of your diet. Do you want a longer, healthier and more active lifestyle? Then Taurine should already be on your shopping list. Taurine, or L-Taurine as it's also known, is one of those things that is so good for you but not well understood. So it is often forgotten. If you're familiar with amino acids taurine is one of those - they're what proteins are made of. So what is it? Why do scientists refer to it as the 'Wonder Molecule'? Is it really made from bull sperm or urine (no)? Will it generally benefit a healthy lifestyle (you bet!)? Here are fifteen totally titillating tidbits about taurine, its health benefits and where you can get it!
1. Taurine Amino Acid Powerhouse
Taurine is also known as 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid for all the budding or interested scientists out there. It is an amino acid - a kind of protein you can find throughout your body and in nature. Taurine concentrates in particular areas of your body like the eyes, heart, brain, and muscles. Unlike many proteins found in your body, like Keratin, for instance, Taurine is not a ‘building-block’ of the body. Taurine acts in various important functions in the body. It has been linked to treating a number of conditions. Those conditions include congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes, and retinal damage to name a few.
Taurine is classified as a “conditionally essential” amino acid rather than “an essential amino acid.” A “conditional amino acid” can be made by the body. An “essential amino acid” cannot be made by the body and must be provided by the diet. Therefore if a person cannot manufacture their own natural supply, they must take supplements or make alterations to their diets.
Diets which include low levels of taurine, such as vegan or vegetarian diets, might require supplementation. This is due to the fact that Taurine is not as readily accessible in vegetables as it is in meat. Additionally, aging bodies cannot produce a suitable level of Taurine, which again could lead to supplementation. So, in order to enjoy the many benefits of Taurine, we need to give a little boost to our natural supply. It’s available in taurine supplements, in our food diet or in energy drinks like REIZE. But, besides curing all of your illnesses, what else does taurine have to offer?
2. No, Taurine Is Not Bull Sperm
I mean, how many times are you going to ask do energy drinks contain bull sperm? Taurine is present in bull sperm, but that is not the source of Taurine in your beverages. If you're still wondering where does taurine come from, rest assured, like many other additives in today's foods, taurine is synthesised in a lab. Taurine is not, and I repeat not obtained by a randy bull and a trusting farmer somewhere in an Australian cattle station. No animals were harmed to bring you Taurine. These days, it is manufactured by chemical synthesis in food ingredient processing plants. In China alone, there are 40 taurine manufacturers! So you can see, there's no shortage of synthetic taurine sources.
Taurine was first collected in 1827 by two German scientists, Friedrich Tiedemann and Leopold Gmelin. They discovered the molecule in ox's bile - the substance made in your liver which helps you digest food. Because taurine was first discovered in an ox, Tiedemann and Gmelin decided to honor this. They named it for the Latin term for bull: Taurus. Which literally means bull or ox.
3. Taurine Resides in Your Body and In Nature
Taurine is naturally made in your body, through a process called the cysteine sulfinic acid pathway. Don't worry there will not be a quiz and you do not have to say this out loud. This process involves the oxidation (losing of electrons) of the sulfhydryl group of the cysteine molecule. Through this process cysteine sulfinic acid is formed. This then undergoes decarboxylation to form hypotaurine and eventually Taurine. Science part nearly over.
Taurine can be found in many foods and is often added to energy drinks like REIZE, Red Bull and more. The main sources of Taurine are animal foods such as meat, fish, and dairy. Although some vegetarian foods provide it in smaller amounts, it is unlikely that these will provide sufficient quantities of taurine to optimise the body’s levels. The daily intake of taurine varies greatly between individuals, from 10 – 400 mg per day, with an average of 58 mg. Individuals following a vegan diet tend to have the lowest intake levels, as a large number of taurine sources are animal-based.
Taurine supplements are a common way to get the recommended daily dose but it can be found in many other sources as well. The form of Taurine used in supplements and energy drinks (like Red Bull) is usually made synthetically and not derived from animals. Therefore, these types of taurine supplements are suitable for vegans.
4. Taurine Benefits: Why It's a Popular Energy Drink Ingredient
As mentioned above, Taurine is often included as an ingredient in energy drinks. This is because of the physiological effect taurine has on us like improving muscular function and physical performance. It is often added to soda and energy drinks. Some energy drinks include up to 600-1,000 mg or more of taurine supplement in one single serving. However, doses of up to 3000 mg per day are generally considered to be safe with side effects of taurine rarely seen, although the long-term outcomes are not clear. If you're wondering, is taurine bad for you? Know that it appears that other common constituents of energy drinks, such as glucose and caffeine, are more likely to cause significant side effects in high doses than taurine.
Be smart. Using energy drinks as your primary (or only) source of Taurine is not smart. Energy drinks and soda drinks contain other substances which you should limit yourself on, like caffeine. In comparison to the average dietary intake of 58 mg per day, many energy drinks contain high doses of Taurine with 1000-2000 mg in each serving. Considering that some individuals may consume more than one serving of taurine each day, this has been a concern for some health advocates and stimulated research in the area.
According to Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. there are studies which suggest that Taurine combined with caffeine improves mental performance. But, it must be noted for transparency's sake that there may be high amounts of other ingredients in energy drinks. Ingredients like caffeine or sugar. Too much caffeine can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, interrupt your sleep, and cause nervousness and irritability. And added sugar may provide unwanted added calories.
Side Tip: Do Your Research
Do your research, we at REIZE have done our own! Taurine is one of our main ingredients and our energy drink contains no added sugar. But there are many energy drinks on the market that contain copious amounts of sugar. Additionally, a single REIZE serving includes just 50mg of caffeine, about half your recommended daily allowance. Which is why we recommend only consuming two sachets a day. Granted different bodies use up fuel in different ways. If you are sensitive to caffeine, it's best to limit your caffeine intake. Know your body and your limits. Don’t rely on energy drink companies to do it for you - they aren’t all as transparent as REIZE!
5. Scientists Call Taurine the "Wonder Molecule"
As mentioned above, Taurine is found in several organs, and its benefits are widespread. So exactly what is taurine so great for? It can help people maintain good hydration levels and electrolyte balance. A huge plus for athletes. Additionally, it helps to create and form bile salts. These substances help your stomach juices digest your food more efficiently. Also, there are indications that it can regulate minerals such as calcium within cells for your body's benefit. It supports your eyes and nervous system, keeping them in tip top shape. Taurine can also help boost your immune system. Is it any its other name is the 'wonder molecule'? It can help in so many different areas, and functions. Why wouldn't you want to give yourself a boost?
Since it’s a “conditionally essential” amino acid, a healthy individual can produce the minimal amount required for these essential daily functions. However, higher amounts of taurine supplements may be required in rare cases, making it an “essential” nutrient for some people. This includes people with heart or kidney failure or premature infants that have been fed intravenously for a long time.
6. You Can Be Deficient in Taurine
When a taurine deficiency occurs during development, serious symptoms like impaired brain function and poor blood sugar control have been observed. Although extremely rare, taurine deficiency is linked to several serious health issues.
One of the key effects of taurine is that it plays important roles in regulating metabolism, isolating minerals and maintaining eye health. Producing Taurine naturally within your body requires healthy levels of various vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Any imbalances in these substances can cause difficulties and deficiencies - including leading to you becoming deficient in Taurine.
There are many signs of Taurine deficiency as it is involved in so many of the body's functions. Some related symptoms that you should look out for are impaired vision, anxiety or depression, hypertension, endurance and recovery problems, and weight gain. This kind of deficiency can produce other cognitive symptoms such as insomnia, restlessness, irritability and problems concentrating.
7. Taurine Can Potentially Help Diabetics
Taurine is currently being heavily researched as an antidiabetic compound due to the effect of taurine on organs of the body of most concern to diabetics. Organs like your kidneys - which produce insulin - and your eyes and nervous system.
In one study, taurine was linked to enhancing blood sugar levels in rats. Fasting blood sugar levels are very important for health, as high levels are a key factor in type 2 diabetes and many other chronic diseases. Some research suggests that an increased intake could help prevent type 2 diabetes by reducing blood sugar levels and insulin resistance.
The study also found that its levels tend to be lower in diabetics than healthy individuals. Another indicator that it may play a role in this disease. Taurine may have benefits for people with diabetes. It may lower blood sugar levels and improve various risk factors for heart disease. However, this research is in its infancy. And all bodies are different. Consult your physician before you break down the pharmacist's door looking for your taurine supplements!
8. Taurine Can Help You De-Stress
Taurine is a natural neural inhibitor, meaning it is a natural anti-anxiety drug. In fact, taurine is often added to antidepressant and anti-anxiety medication. As a component in the building blocks of our bodies, taurine makes us feel physically healthier as it enables our body to function at its best. If we feel good our mood is automatically better. Happier people are also more likely to engage in activities which prolong hormone highs, for example through exercising. Which also helps to relieve stress. It’s a circle of happiness when taurine is involved.
9. Taurine May Improve Your Workout and Fitness Regime
What does taurine do when you're working out? Actually, the wonder molecule can help make you a fitness wonder as well! Taurine helps muscles work harder, longer and in a safer way. Taurine increases muscle contractility within the heart and joints resulting in more powerful workouts. It also increases your stamina by helping to get rid of lactic acid buildup in your muscles. Lactic acid causes uncomfortable muscle cramps. Having fewer cramps means you can work out for longer and with considerably less muscle pain. As it is a protein molecule it helps muscles regenerate after a workout. So there is less recovery time and less damage or stress being put on your muscles. Another reason to keep a sachet of REIZE in your gym bag.
10. Taurine Improves Physical Performance
While undergoing research and selected studies, cyclists and runners using a taurine supplement were able to cover longer distances with less fatigue. Another study supports its role in reducing muscle damage. Participants placed on a muscle-damaging weight lifting routine found that it helped reduce markers of damage and muscle soreness.
It may have benefits for weight loss by increasing the use of fat for fuel. (See more info on the effects of taurine on weight in the next section.) In cyclists, supplementing with 1.66 grammes of taurine increased fat burning by 16%. Overall, it plays several important roles in your muscles and may help with various aspects of exercise performance. This includes reduced fatigue, increased fat burning and less muscle damage.
11. Taurine Can Help You Lose Weight
Taurine has the ability to help lower lipid (fat cell) levels in our bloodstream. It can also help our bodies cope with excess glucose. In this way, it can help fight or prevent obesity. Obesity causes inflammation in our abdominal fat stores and can lead to cardiovascular concerns. For this reason, a taurine supplement is often suggested by nutritionists to include in diets. Especially for those looking to get their weight under control.
12. Taurine Keeps Your Heart Healthy
It strengthens heart muscle cells, enabling it to work harder and more efficiently. In studies, Taurine was found to increase the retention of potassium and magnesium in the heart muscle. These are needed for regular heart muscle contractions and electrolyte balance. It has also linked to relieving hypertension. Patients with high blood pressure have lower than normal levels of Taurine in their bloodstream. A protein called ‘angiotensin’ is released when your levels are low, and this prevents high blood pressure. Meaning your heart is stronger and healthier and able to be put to the test.
In one group of overweight people, 3 grammes of Taurine per day for only seven weeks reduced body weight and improved several heart disease risk factors. Taking supplements helped reduce inflammation and arterial thickening. Research shows a link between higher Taurine levels and significantly lower rates of death from heart disease. As well as reduced cholesterol and blood pressure. It may help reduce high blood pressure by decreasing the resistance to blood flow in the blood vessel walls. Taurine may also minimise nerve impulses in the brain that cause blood pressure to increase.
13. Taurine Could Lengthen Your Life
Taurine is referred to as a “wonder molecule” by scientists and food fanatics. It is also known as the “longevity nutrient” in Japan where it is a huge part of their diet. The Japanese population has the world’s longest lifespans and this is often attributed to their Taurine rich diet. Taurine can enrich your life by making you healthier and happier. Why wouldn’t you want to include it in your diet?
14. You Can Take Taurine Supplements
As consumer demand for Taurine has increased over the years, synthetic production of the substance increased as well. Taurine is made when a reaction occurs between ethylene oxide and sodium bisulfite to form isethionic acid. This is then used to obtain the synthetic form of Taurine. Alternatively, a reaction between aziridine and sulphurous acid is a single reactive process that can be used to obtain Taurine. It is this synthetic Taurine which you will find in commercial products like energy drinks and supplements.
According to experts, the most common dosage given to people who require more Taurine in their systems is 500–2,000 mg per day. While there have been a few rare cases of overdoses, people taking doses of above 2,000mg haven't reported any negative side effects. Doses of even up to 3,000mg per day are considered safe. While some studies may use a higher dose for short periods, 3,000 mg per day will help you maximise the benefits. The easiest and most cost-effective method to get additional Taurine is through powder or taking taurine supplements. You can easily find these at a local supermarket or pharmacy or health food shop that stocks supplements.
15. Taurine is One of the Main Ingredients in REIZE!
Taurine is one of the quality energy drinks ingredients in REIZE. (We think it's so important, we even created a video on Taurine featuring our founders, Steve & Marty.) REIZE Energy Drink contains 1000mg of Taurine, in a convenient little sachet that fits in your pocket. It tastes delicious, is sugar-free and can be mixed any way that you like. What are you waiting for?