What Is Taurine & How Can It Help You?

Vibrant blue tin against a bold red backdrop

Of all the amino acid dietary supplements, taurine might be one of the lesser known, but this does not diminish its impact on health. The amino acid taurine is linked to numerous benefits and functions within the human body, including the central nervous system and athletic performance. Find out more about the amino acid taurine below! 

Quick Takeaway:

  • Taurine is a nonessential amino acid that becomes a conditionally essential amino acid during stress, injury, and other special circumstances. 
  • Like other amino acids, taurine is necessary for human health due to its role in many physiological and biological functions. 
  • Low or nonexistent taurine intake can be a cause of extreme concern for human health. Taurine deficiency is linked to many serious health concerns, such as epilepsy and developmental abnormalities. 
  • The amino acid taurine is a common ingredient in most energy drinks, though the marketed benefits it provides have been proven to be misleading. 

Amino Acids – An Overview of Taurine

Molecular diagram showing the structure of taurine

Amino acids play a vital role in the human body as the building blocks of protein. 

Taurine is an often overlooked amino acid, a nonessential amino acid that plays no role in protein synthesis. But this amino acid is still incredibly vital for its many functions in the human body, including the central nervous system. Find out more about taurine and why it’s important for the human body below! 

Overview

A nonessential amino acid, taurine biosynthesis naturally occurs from the essential amino acid cysteine. It becomes a conditionally essential amino acid for the human body during stress, illness, or injury due to its vital function in the central nervous system in regulating homeostasis. 

Taurine is the most abundant amino acid in the brain and the most abundant intracellular amino acid in humans. The amino acid is found in the:

  • Brain
  • Spinal cord
  • Leukocytes
  • Heart and muscle cells
  • Retina 
  • Tissues

Benefits

The benefits of taurine are many, including forming bile salts needed to process bile acid and aid digestion, supporting the central nervous system, and regulating hydration in the cells. 

This amino acid’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties are extremely beneficial to the human body. It is used for energy production, neurological development, cardiovascular health, and necessary immune responses. 

Taurine Benefits:

  • Helps support nerve growth 
  • Regulates blood pressure
  • Enhances insulin sensitivity 
  • Increases exercise capacity

Uses

Naturally found in breast milk, taurine is important for promoting auditory and visual development, hepatic function, and intestinal fat absorption in infants. 

Research reveals that taurine deficiency in the neonatal period is linked to negative long-term neurodevelopment outcomes for preterm infants. To avoid these adverse outcomes, taurine-supplemented formula and parenteral nutrition solutions with taurine are part of current practices. 

Taurine is also widely used to reduce high blood pressure and promote heart health. This is done by decreasing resistance in the blood vessel walls that would otherwise reduce blood flow.

Taurine Uses:

  • Support heart function for those with congestive heart failure 
  • Blood sugar management 
  • Decrease high blood pressure
  • Reverse adverse effects from oxidative stress

Risks & Side Effects

It’s important to note that there are some risks and side effects associated with taurine supplementation. 

Many of these side effects and risks, such as nausea, are common with taking any supplement or medication. Overconsumption of taurine can lead to more severe side effects, such as liver pain. Otherwise, there are no reported side effects of taurine usage. 

Taurine Risks & Side Effects:

  • Digestive upset
  • Headache
  • Liver pain 

Interactions

According to our research, there are possible interactions with taurine to avoid. 

We recommend consulting with a medical professional before beginning taurine supplementation. Do not increase taurine intake without speaking with your doctor first to avoid potential health risks. 

Taurine interferes with medications such as statins, antidepressants, and any medications that rely on the enzyme cytochrome P-450. The reason is that taurine is an enzyme inhibitor, meaning any medications that rely on this enzyme to metabolize drugs will be significantly affected. 

Taurine Interactions to Avoid:

  • Antidepressants
  • Anticoagulants 
  • Statins 
  • Antiseizure drugs

Dosing For Taurine Supplementation 

For improved exercise performance, 1-3g/day of taurine is recommended. A study revealed that taking this dosage chronically 60-120 minutes before exercise and periodically throughout the day was shown to promote results. 

Dosages of about 500-2,000mg of taurine per day are typical, with studies using dietary supplements incorporating typically around 400-6,000mg per day. High doses of taurine, anywhere from 3,000-10,000mg/day, are shown by research to be safe for one’s health. 

Before beginning taurine supplementation, consult your doctor to determine which dosage is best for you. 

The Importance of Amino Acid Taurine

Taurine plays a vital role in many of the body’s everyday functions. The beneficial effects of taurine are responsible for supporting the central nervous system, retina, muscle, and heart’s cellular integrity. 

This essential nutrient is necessary for numerous physiological and biological functions in the human body. Without proper taurine intake, there can be serious consequences to a person’s quality of life. 

During special conditions, taurine becomes a conditionally essential amino acid for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and other functions in the central nervous system. It provides chronotropic effects, retinal function, bile acid conjugation, and cholestasis prevention. 

Health Risks of Taurine Deficiency 

A low or absent taurine intake can result in serious detrimental health risks. Some individuals are more at risk of taurine deficiency. These include patients:

  • Requiring parenteral nutrition
  • With chronic hepatic, renal, or heart failure

Inadequate taurine levels can affect energy production, vital functions in the central nervous system, and other metabolic processes. Studies reveal that taurine deficiency is linked to developmental abnormalities, retinal damage, cardiomyopathy, and renal dysfunction. 

Taurine Deficiency Risks:

  • Diminished autophagy 
  • Retinal degeneration 
  • Anxiety
  • Epilepsy
  • Hyperactivity
  • Depression 

Taurine & Energy Drinks – How They Are Linked

Taurine & Energy Drinks relation graph
Source: Everflex Fitness 2024

Nearly half of our survey respondents revealed that they drink energy drinks, with 4% stating they don’t drink them anymore. 

Taurine concentrations are found in many energy drinks, though why manufacturers do this is still unclear. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has denied taurine-based energy claims that many energy drink manufacturers, such as Red Bull, are promoting. 

Red Bull claims that drinking its energy drinks enhances muscular performance and cognitive capabilities, though research reveals that this can all be attributed to caffeine’s effect, not taurine’s. 

Best Taurine Supplements

Taurine dietary supplementation includes more than energy drinks that may not contain the healthiest ingredients. There are so many exemplary taurine supplement options to choose from to enhance your everyday lifestyle with the amino acid. Here are our top recommended taurine supplements to choose from! 

Transparent Labs Taurine Powder – Best Clean Ingredient Pick

Transparent Labs Taurine Powder Jar

Overview

Dedicated to transparency in its ingredients, manufacturing, and all-around, Transparent Labs is one of the cleanest and most high-quality brands that has earned a loyal following. 

A great example of this is their taurine powder. Exempt from artificial preservatives, coloring, and sweeteners, this taurine powder boosts all the benefits of this amino acid. It mitigates oxidative stress to enhance athletic performance and promotes nootropic effects for improved memory retention and focus. 

Highlights

  • No artificial sweeteners
  • No artificial coloring
  • No artificial preservatives 
  • Gluten-free
  • Non-GMO
  • Contains 2,000mg of unflavored pure taurine in each scoop
  • This taurine product promotes benefits such as:
    • Cell-hydrating properties
    • Neuroprotective/nootropic effects
    • Antioxidant mechanisms 
    • Improves athletic performance 
    • Mitigates oxidative stress 

Price

PRODUCTAMOUNTPRICING
Transparent Labs Taurine Powder200g/0.44lbs$12.99

Bottom Line

This taurine powder by Transparent Labs is the perfect pick if you’re searching for a clean product and a trustworthy brand. It provides all the outstanding health benefits of the amino acid taurine to promote focus, memory recall, and superior athletic performance! 

Thorne Taurine Capsules – Best Convenient Choice

Thorne Taurine Capsules Bottle

Overview

Thorne provides clean, high-quality, unflavored supplements without all the mess of added flavors you might not like. So you can control what your supplements taste like by adding your own flavoring or using them in smoothies, baked goods, or whatever you choose! 

These taurine capsules by Thorne are super convenient to take on-the-go when traveling or when you are in a rush and don’t have time to make a smoothie. It provides all the great benefits of taurine without the hassle.

Highlights

  • Derived from natural flavors & colors
  • Gluten-free
  • Dairy-free
  • Soy-free
  • These taurine capsules support the following:
    • Liver function
    • Gallbladder function
    • Vision 
    • Muscle function 
    • Heart health 

Price

PRODUCTAMOUNTPRICING
Thorne Taurine Capsules90 capsules$16

Bottom Line

Thorne’s taurine capsules provide all the benefits of the amino acid with desirable convenience to take with you on-the-go. And, if you’re not a fan of mixing powdered supplements, these Thorne taurine capsules are perfect for you, too! 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is taurine in energy drinks?

Taurine is a nonessential amino acid that is found in most energy drinks. The reason why taurine is added to energy drinks is still vague. Manufacturers claim that taurine in energy drinks is meant to promote a calming effect by suppressing neurotransmitter receptors, though studies do not back this statement. 

Is taurine just caffeine? 

Taurine is often paired with caffeine, so many people may assume that taurine is caffeine. While caffeine is a stimulant, taurine promotes the opposite effect on the central nervous system by inhibiting gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. 

Will taurine keep me awake? 

Taurine provides the opposite effect of caffeine, so it does not stimulate alertness to keep you awake. Studies show that taurine can increase sleep rather than attenuate it like caffeine.

Kaelyn Buzzo | ISSA CPT & Nutrition Coach

Kaelyn Buzzo | ISSA CPT & Nutrition Coach

I am an ISSA-certified CPT and Nutrition Coach with a BA in Creative Writing and a Minor in Nutrition.

Learn More About Kaelyn

More posts from Kaelyn Buzzo | ISSA CPT & Nutrition Coach

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