Taurine is a dietary supplement that’s right on trend.
Athletes consume it for its health benefits and properties: before their sports tests, at night before going to sleep… And there’s more and more research being conducted on its application to human health.
What is it?
Taurine is an amino acid, those constituents of proteins that we’re all familiar with. However, in this case there is a slight difference.
It is an amino acid with non-proteinogenic properties, which is not present in our body’s proteins, and is only present in free form thanks to the body’s ability to create it through metabolic reactions.
What does Taurine do?
Until a few decades ago, it was considered an “osmolyte“.
This means: a component of the liquid tissues of our body (such as the blood or the interstitial medium) that only played a role as a bulking agent to avoid losing osmotic pressure.
For at least 10 years now we’ve known that it is not limited to this role, and its complete insufficiency (also of its precursors) is associated with:
- Nervous system disorders.
- Liver function.
- Visual development.
- Maintaining the integrity of the retina.
(Ripps and Shen, 2012).
Molecular structure of taurine.
What are the properties of Taurine?
It is now widely used by athletes, following the publication of a series of scientific studies in humans in which dietary supplementation with the compound appeared to produce benefits in physical endurance.
A review of 10 studies published by Waldron et al. (2018) concluded that doses between 1 and 6 grams in the form of a dietary supplement had benefits on:
- Increased time before fatigue.
Though their consumption showed neither positive nor negative results on specific times in speed tests, pending further studies.
Mechanisms of nerve modulation and neuroprotection (Jakaria et al., 2019).
Where does Taurine come from?
It is highly concentrated in our spinal cord, brain and eyes, and helps maintain our state of health.
It is created from the conversion of other amino acids: Cysteine and Methionine, in this case, nutritionally indispensable, by the action of the enzyme Cysteine sulfinate decarboxylase (CSD).
Synthesis route from cysteine by means of cysteine sulfinate decarboxylase.
Although there are other routes of synthesis, they are lower compared to the conversion of cysteine.
Foods containing Taurine
The food groups that contain the most taurine are nuts, shellfish and cephalopods.
Depending on the specific species, the concentration can be hugely variable, ranging from a few milligrams to grams, per 100g of food.
In this graphic representation, we can clearly see the variability of the concentration in different foods categorised by their origin.
Taurine concentration in various foods of animal origin.
Pasantes-Morales, Quesada, Alcocer and Sánchez, in 1989, published a study in Nutrition Reports International determining the concentrations of the most consumed foods in Mexico.
We can use this data as a reference to select our food consumption choices, in search of the richest options.
Taurine in nuts.
In measures of magnitude one thousandth smaller (nanomoles) they found:
Other foods evaluated in which no quantifiable concentrations have been detected are:
There are no specific contraindications to its use, as it is naturally present in and familiar to the body.
Consumption up to a dose of 3g has been established as a practice with a high degree of safety, although dietary supplementation with doses up to 10g has been evaluated without adverse effects on a widespread basis.
Use with caution during pregnancy and lactation, under medical knowledge and control, as there is insufficient toxicological data available for during this period.
However, preliminary evidence tends to point to a positive effect through being able to transfer part through breast milk, enriching its nutritional potential.
It is recommended you avoid consuming it when following a treatment with thrombolytic agents, an anticoagulant, antiplatelet agents, and/or salicylates, as it can interfere and magnify its effects.
The main side effects have been described in cases of consumption of energy drinks containing the ingredient, however, their relationship is not causal since it has not been possible to establish a relationship between the events (mainly cardiovascular) and the taurine itself.
Waiter serving a commercial energy drink.
Taurine in energy drinks
Most of the well-known brands of energy drinks on the market use it as an ingredient in their formulas.
- Its use in energy drinks is due to the above-described possible neuroprotective effect against nervous excitability that can be induced by high doses of caffeine.
- It is added to high caffeine beverages as a strategy with theoretical potential to cope with the overactivation that caffeine generates.
Where can you buy Taurine?
You can find it in HSN products.
We have the pure amino acid in its natural chemical form, both in powder format and in high concentration capsules (500mg):
Looking for a dietary supplement to add to your pre-workouts? Don’t miss RawSeries L-Taurine Powder!
You also have the L-Taurine dietary supplement in vegetable capsules, which are fully vegan-friendly. An easier way to accurately dose the amino acid!
- Jakaria, M., Azam, S., Haque, M. E., Jo, S. H., Uddin, M. S., Kim, I. S., & Choi, D. K. (2019). Taurine and its analogs in neurological disorders: Focus on therapeutic potential and molecular mechanisms. Redox Biology, 24, 1–15.
- Pasantes-Morales, H., Quesada, O., Alcocer, L., & Sanchez Olea, R. (1989). Taurine content in foods. Nutrition Reports International, 40(4), 793–801.
Ripps, H., & Shen, W. (2012). Review: Taurine: A “very essential” amino acid. Molecular Vision, 18, 2673–2686.
- Waldron, M., Patterson, S. D., Tallent, J., & Jeffries, O. (2018). The Effects of an Oral Taurine Dose and Supplementation Period on Endurance Exercise Performance in Humans: A Meta-Analysis. Sports Medicine, 48(5), 1247–1253.
- Yamori, Y., Taguchi, T., Hamada, A., Kunimasa, K., Mori, H., & Mori, M. (2010). Taurine in health and diseases: Consistent evidence from experimental and epidemiological studies. Journal of Biomedical Science, 17(SUPPL. 1), S6.
- Want to get the most out of your Pre-Workout Supplements? We recommend taking at look at this article.
- We analyse the major energy drinks, here.