Are you familiar with energy drinks? Surely you have seen them in stores, if not tried one yourself. If you check its labeling, you will see that many of these products include taurine. What is it? And what does it have to do with the Redbull?
Taurine is a very abundant amino acid in our body. It is necessary for the development of newborns and fortifying the body of the elderly. Lack of taurine in your body can lead to some serious side effects. If you want to know more about this nutrient (such as the interesting origin of its name), be sure to read on!
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- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our Selection: The Best Taurine Products
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Taurine
- 5 Buyer's Guide
- 6 Summary
- Taurine is a non-structural amino acid, but essential for the proper functioning of the body.
- The human body is capable of synthesizing a small amount of taurine from other amino acids. However, the main contribution of this amino acid is provided by the diet.
- When buying taurine, you can go for vegan, hypoallergenic, easy-to-dose and always choose clearly labeled products that allow you to see their expiration date.
Our Selection: The Best Taurine Products
We have reviewed the most interesting products on the online market and created a list of products rich in taurine. In this list you can find supplements that contain this amino acid in different amounts. We've even added a few alternatives to popular energy drinks.
Shopping Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Taurine
Taurine is one of the most abundant amino acids in our body. Although it does not have a structural function, it is of vital importance for the proper functioning of the nervous, cardiovascular and metabolic systems. This nutrient has an animal origin, and is found less in vegans than the rest of the population.
What is taurine?
This amino acid is found, practically, in the entire body of humans (and other mammals). It is especially abundant in the brain, eyes, and muscles. Its work is essential for our survival, which is why many experts classify this molecule as an essential compound with a broad spectrum of action (1, 2, 3, 4):
|Eyes||Cytoprotection||Stabilizes cell membranes. Preserves the life of the cell.|
|Liver||Bile acid synthesis||Production of the bile necessary for the digestion and absorption of food.|
| Preserves the cardiovascular system and prevents atrophy of the heart muscle.
It opposes the formation of thrombi and cholesterol plaques in the blood vessels.
| It allows the development of new neurons during fetal development.
Avoid premature destruction of neurons.
Possible transmission of electrical impulses from vision and other functions.
|Muscle||Cytoprotection||Maintains the structure of muscle fibers.|
|Lymphocytes (defensive system)||Lymphoproliferation||Possible development of new cells of the defensive system.|
The truth is that many of these properties have been described in animal models. There may be slight variations in the function of this amino acid in humans. What can be confirmed is the very important function of taurine, which in addition to protecting cellular stability, has an antioxidant effect on tissues (5).
What are the consequences of a lack of taurine?
Newborns and people with chronic heart, kidney or liver conditions need an external supply of taurine. In the case of neonates, breast milk may provide this amino acid. Chronically ill patients should obtain this substance through diet or food supplements (6).
Vegetarians and vegans are also a risk group for taurine deficiency. If your diet is low in cysteine or if additional factors (such as chronic illness) are added, you may be deficient. In addition, it is under investigation whether people who are supplemented with beta alanine may see their taurine supply decreased (4).
Thus, a deficiency of this amino acid can negatively affect the health of individuals, making cells vulnerable to different attacks. In the following list we will briefly discuss the main consequences of taurine deficiency. However, note that most of these findings have been observed in animal models (6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11):
- Vision problems: Taurine deficiency has been linked to the loss of photoreceptors (cells that are responsible for receiving light radiation and leading it to the brain). A deficiency of this amino acid could also increase the probability of suffering from glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy, serious diseases that can cause blindness.
- Cardiovascular damage: Taurine deficiency appears to be harmful to the muscular system, causing cardiomyopathy (damage to cardiac muscle fibers), platelet abnormalities, thrombosis, and atherosclerosis.
- Kidney damage: Taurine regulates the blood flow of the kidneys, protects them from free radicals that are produced during metabolism and allows them to form urine and regulate body pH. A taurine deficiency could prevent these tasks from being carried out successfully.
- Mood disorders: Taurine deficiency has been linked to the appearance of psychiatric pathology, such as depression or anxiety (however, there are also studies that contradict this hypothesis (12)). It could also affect the ability to concentrate.
- Neurological disorders: In children between the ages of eighteen months and seven years, taurine deficiency may affect intellectual and neurological development. Lack of this amino acid, which can function as a neurotransmitter, could also be related to epilepsy.
- Metabolic mismatch: Low taurine will cause a deterioration in the function of the cells responsible for producing insulin (beta cells of the pancreas). Low levels of this amino acid have also been found among obese people, establishing a possible relationship between taurine deficiency and being overweight.
What foods contain taurine?
The average intake of taurine in an omnivorous person ranges from 40 to 400 milligrams (mg) daily, with no recommended daily allowance (CDR) being established at this time. The body of a young and healthy person will be able to produce, in addition, between 50 and 125 mg / day of this amino acid (12, 13).
Lacking an official CDR for taurine, your best asset is to eat a healthy diet including dairy, chicken, turkey, fish or lean meat on a daily basis (alternating between different sources). On the other hand, red or processed meats should be eaten occasionally.
|Food (100 grams)||Taurine content (milligrams) (13)|
If you are vegan, you will not be able to choose from the foods from the previous list. In this case, it will be essential to maintain a healthy diet that provides a necessary (but not excessive) amount of methionine, cysteine and vitamin B6. Some nutrition experts have also suggested that vegans may benefit from the use of taurine supplements (15).
|Methionine rich foods (16)||Cysteine rich foods (17)||Foods rich in vitamin B6 (18)|
|Hemp protein||Sunflower seeds||Bananas|
|Peanuts||Edamame (soy beans)||Potatoes|
|Pinto beans||Wheat germ||Avocados|
What benefits do taurine supplements have?
- Cardiovascular health: Taurine has been used by cardiology experts to improve the condition of patients with myocardial pathologies (such as heart failure). The results of these tests have been very promising for the moment (19).
- Neurological Recovery: In animal models, taurine supplements appear to be able to reverse or attenuate damage to the nervous system. At the moment, it is unknown whether these findings can be replicated in humans. In healthy volunteers, caffeine and taurine energy drinks could improve attention span without improving memory (7).
- Diabetes treatment: A possible relationship between taurine and insulin resistance (a condition related to glucose intolerance and type 2 diabetes) is being studied. Taurine supplementation appears to reduce insulin resistance, although research in this area is at an early stage (8, 20, 21, 22).
- Mood balance: Animal experiments (rats) have shown that taurine is able to lessen the symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, the differences between the brain of rodents and that of humans makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions about the results of these studies (23.24)
- Vegan wellness: Vegans maintain lower taurine concentrations than omnivores. Supplements can be used to increase the amount of this amino acid. It has been proposed that this application could improve the cardiovascular health of vegans, although this hypothesis must be ratified by better studies (4).
- Alopecia treatment: An in vitro study (with cells in a laboratory setting) showed that taurine can protect hair follicles, which could slow hair loss (25).
- Tinnitus Relief: Unpleasant hearing sensations (known as tinnitus, tinnitus, or colloquially, "buzzing") could potentially be alleviated by taurine use. For now, this treatment has only been tested in animal models (26).
- Thyroid balance: The antioxidant effect of taurine may contribute to reducing imbalances in the functioning of the thyroid gland, as confirmed by some experiments carried out in rats. (27).
- Performance: When using taurine in an experiment with men trained in a 3 km race, a significant increase (1.7%) in sports performance was observed. However, scientists have not been able to determine the exact mechanism of this improvement in runners' physical condition (28).
- Antioxidant: One study supplemented ten male triathlon practitioners with taurine. Paradoxically, this amino acid was not able to improve the resistance of the volunteers, but it did reduce oxidative stress in their bodies. This result has led experts to wonder whether taurine could attenuate muscle damage caused by intense exercise (29).
- Weight loss: There is a hypothesis that relates taurine to weight loss. Some scientists believe that supplements of this amino acid could reduce the synthesis of certain chemicals that stimulate appetite and make it difficult to follow diets. This study is in an initial phase and no results have been obtained yet (30).
- Fat Burners: After conducting a study with taurine, it was found that supplementation with this amino acid slightly enhances the oxidation of fat stores. This slight fat burning effect could be useful for people who want to improve their body composition. This experiment was carried out with experienced cyclists (males) (31).
The true potential of taurine remains, for now, unexplored. Its promising effects will be confirmed in the near future. For now, we can use supplements to keep a possible deficiency of this amino acid at bay. For the treatment of more serious conditions, it is more prudent to leave our health in the hands of professionals.
It doesn't matter if you choose an energy drink, a fortified pre-workout or a supplement exclusively based on taurine. Our purchase criteria will give you a series of guidelines when choosing the best item with taurine, regardless of its format.
Vegan or Vegetarian Diet
Although synthetic taurine does not use animal products for its manufacture, it is possible that supplements may contain milk, eggs or fish. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, remember to check the labeling of your product very carefully. When in doubt, choose a powdered item and avoid capsules, which may contain animal-based gelatin.
Taurine allergies are rare, but have been described after consuming large amounts of this amino acid. If you suffer a skin rash, digestive discomfort or respiratory distress after consuming this supplement, seek medical help and stop using it. Items that combine more than one ingredient can cause allergies more easily (35.36).
Also, remember to be careful if you are celiac, allergic to lactose, shellfish, eggs or soy. Carefully review the list of ingredients in your product with taurine and do not hesitate to ask the manufacturer for more information.
Normally, taurine supplementation will be done using daily doses between 500 and 1500 mg. Choose a product that clearly explains the exact amount of amino acid you'll get in each dose. Avoid products that give confusing or unclear information (for example, that recommend taking "half a tablespoon" of powder instead of including a measuring scoop).
Taurine is an essential amino acid for the well-being of our bodies. Its lack is especially harmful to the cardiovascular system, so do not forget this nutrient, regardless of our diet.
If you are a young, healthy person who follows an omnivorous diet, taurine may only produce a slight antioxidant effect. However, if you think your production and intake of this molecule may prove insufficient in the long term, keep taurine supplements in mind. Your body will thank you!
If this guide to taurine supplements has been helpful to you, please leave a comment and share this article.
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