Taurine is a heart and blood healthy compound that provides many health benefits. It aids several anti-oxidant defense systems, it helps control blood sugar, reduces some forms of insulin resistance, and it has beneficial effects on kidney, eye, and nerve health.
Few people realize how much the normal diet contains: between 40 and 400 milligrams per day. That’s because you can get taurine from many different food sources. Things like chicken, beef, pork, and seafood all have abundant amounts of taurine in them. And, our body produces it too!
Athletes and your regular gym nuts are drawn to taurine because of its link to performance. Studies suggest just one daily dose of taurine leads to better endurance performance. But is it safe?
Taurine has gotten a bad rep in the last few years because of its link to energy drinks. More accurately put: because people abused energy drinks, everything they contained were deemed bad for your health.
I’d like to put your mind at ease.
In this article you’ll learn about how taurine works to improve performance, how you should take it, and we’ll cover a few points on safety.
What is taurine?
Taurine is an amino sulfonic acid. It’s not technically an amino acid because it has some chemical structural differences.
You’ll find taurine most prominently in excitable tissues – cardiac tissue mostly (the stuff that makes up your heart). It also circulates systemically at lower levels.
As a molecule it is highly water soluble. This means it dissolves very efficiently in water and gets carried to the body’s tissues in blood plasma.
How does taurine improve performance?
Taurine is thought to contribute to improve performance mainly through its ability to protect against the effects of oxidative stress during exercise and its ability to increase fat oxidation during exercise.
Muscle contractions while your exercising create reactive oxygen species (ROS) – little molecules that have many deleterious effects, including reduced force generation and muscle atrophy.
ROS are damaging because they contain a wonky number of electrons. This wrong number of electrons makes the molecule unstable. Because things in biology crave stability, it reacts with whatever it can to make itself stable. The unfortunate consequence of this reaction is it sacrifices another molecules stability turning it into a free radical. Unstable molecules don’t function properly and can have many unfortunate effects within the cell.
They contribute to muscle weakness and fatigue, DNA mutations in muscle cells, lipid peroxidation, mitochondrial dysfunction, and apoptosis and necrosis within muscle tissue. All these things combine to limit muscle’s ability produce energy and function optimally.
Antioxidants inhibit the oxidation of other molecules, essentially counteracting the deleterious effects of ROS.
Antioxidants step in and tell ROS to “cut the crap” and calm down. They do this by donating electrons to ROS and making them stable molecules again.
The structure of taurine allows it to perform this electron donating, ROS neutralizing reaction.
Taurine also contributes to performance by increasing the amount of fat oxidation during exercise.
Fat is the most potent source of energy for working muscles. Breaking down one gram of fat can produce 9 Calories of energy. In comparison, one gram of protein or carbohydrate produces just 4 Calories of energy. So, everything else held constant, breaking down fat will produce more energy than breaking down protein or carbohydrate.
Relying on fat for energy is more efficient and can definitely increase endurance performance.
The increase in fat oxidation these cyclists experienced suggests they were able to use fat as an energy source to a greater extent than when there was no taurine ingested before the workout.
How to supplement with taurine
To experience the beneficial effects of taurine (e.g. improved performance), doses of 500 milligrams to 2,000 milligrams have shown efficacy. So you want to find a supplement that has at least 500 milligrams of taurine in it.
If you’re worried about taking too much, don’t be. Within reason.
The upper limit for taurine toxicity (2,000 milligrams) is much higher than necessary: high doses are well-tolerated. Up to 3,000 milligrams per day can be ingested with a low risk of experiencing side-effects.
Why taurine is safe
Several studies investigating the safety of taurine supplementation have been conducted. All demonstrated no safety concerns or serious adverse effects. This was noticed even in doses as high as 10,000 milligrams per day for six months straight!
Other studies have looked at 1,000 to 6,000 milligrams per day for as long as a year. They also noted no side-effects with taurine supplementation.
Taurine in moderate doses and without other stimulants (caffeine excluded) or alcohol is completely safe.
The negative health risks that have been tied to taurine are completely due to its abuse and its unfortunate association with energy drinks. Keep away from those and taurine is an excellent way to improve your performance in the gym, or wherever you choose to do your workouts.
Taking 500 milligrams once or twice a day will keep you on the healthy side of things.
Taurine is a compound found in many pre-workout supplements that can provide many health benefits as an antioxidant, and it can improve your performance by altering the energy substrate you most heavily utilize while you’re exercising.
In moderate amounts it has been deemed completely safe.
Thanks for reading and have a great week! Please leave your comments below and tell me about your experiences with Taurine! And, if you’re looking for more information on supplementation, give me a shout; I’d love to help you out.
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