Taurine is an amino acid that is present in the human body naturally. It holds an important role in carrying out several vital bodily functions. Taurine is known to boost metabolism, safeguard organs, improve memory and trigger immune and nervous system function. Usually, the body makes enough taurine on its own, however, supplements can also help to meet the needs of taurine.
Taurine is one of the ingredients added to energy drinks and its popular among fitness enthusiasts for its potential to trigger metabolism.
Dive into this article to know more about taurine, its benefits, side effects and how to take it as a supplement.
What Is Taurine?
Taurine is a sulfur-containing amino acid naturally present in the brain, eyes, heart, and muscles. Amino acids are often regarded as the building blocks of protein, but taurine isn’t used to build proteins in the system. Instead, it’s a conditionally essential amino acid, which is considered essential only in times of illness, injury, or stress.
Taurine is present in certain food sources and the body can also produce it. Thus, taurine deficiency is rare in healthy adults. However, as newborns and infants cannot make taurine as well as adults, they usually depend on taurine from breast milk or supplemented formula.
Role Of Taurine
Taurine is present in several organs in the system and has umpteen benefits. The key roles of taurine in the body include:
- Maintain hydration and electrolyte balance in the cells
- Formation of bile salts, that play a vital role in digestion
- Controlling function of minerals like calcium within cells
- Promoting the function of the central nervous system and eyes
- Supporting immune system and antioxidant function
As taurine is a conditionally essential amino acid, a healthy person’s body can make the minimal amount needed for these vital daily functions.
Although, the body may need a huge amount in times of illness, or stress. This may be in the case of those with heart or kidney failure and in premature infants who have been fed intravenously. In such cases, they may need to get taurine from food or supplements.
Sources Of Taurine
The primary sources of taurine are animal foods like meat, seafood, and dairy. While plant sources contain very minimal amounts of taurine. Vegans or vegetarians consume less taurine, and they may have lower taurine levels than non-vegetarians.
Taurine can also be obtained from some energy drinks, which offer around 750 mg per 237 ml serving. The form of taurine used in producing supplements and energy drinks is synthetic, and not from animal sources. Thus, the taurine supplement is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
Potential Health Benefits
Potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory traits of Taurine are well-known to improve insulin sensitivity, thus reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and better blood sugar management.
Though human research on the impacts of taurine supplements for diabetes management is limited, a 2018 study recommended that taurine would be a good therapeutic supplement for controlling blood sugar spikes in type 2 diabetics. Further, it also disclosed that taurine would be shielding effects against diabetes complications like nerve damage, kidney problem and cardiovascular disease.
Augments Heart Health
Taurine supplements have been shown to control blood pressure and enhance cardiac function and maintain lipid profile in people with heart problems. And some studies have revealed a significant link between higher taurine levels and diminished cholesterol, lower blood pressure level and lower mortality rate from heart disease.
Boost Exercise Performance
Taurine is highly valuable to enhance the ability of muscle contraction and combat muscle fatigue, thereby uplifting athletic endurance and performance. It also increases fat burning during a workout to better fuel performance. Evidence suggests that taurine had remarkably increased athletic performance including:
- Better oxygen uptake by the system
- Combat fatigue
- Reduced muscle damaged
- Improved recovery
- Enhanced strength and power
However, it’s important to note that the effects of taurine on exercise performance tend to be limited and inconsistent. Thus, more extensive research is needed.
Side Effects And Precautions
As per scientific evidence, taurine has no negative side effects when taken appropriately and right dosage as advised by your healthcare provider.
However, some people have reported side effects after taking taurine supplements which include:
- Liver pain
- Stomach pain
Further, a few studies reveal that taurine could interact with medications like antidepressants, antiepileptic drugs, warfarin, and statins. Hence, if you’re taking any of these medications, consult with your physician to find out whether there’s any risk or side effect linked to having taurine.
Taurine is a conditionally essential amino acid, that a person needs only during times of stress or illness. Generally, deficiency of taurine is very rare, as it is readily available in animal protein and a few plant sources and also the body can make it in the liver.
Taurine supplements have been researched extensively for their therapeutic benefits in regulating diabetes, heart health, controlling blood pressure and improving athlete performance. However, more human studies are still required. Taurine has a potent safety profile, but remember that it may interfere with certain drugs, so it’s always best and safe to discuss with your physician before taking it.