You would have probably heard about taurine supplements from fitness aficionados, especially the gym rats with bulging biceps and protruding veins. Up until recently, support for taurine as an ergogenic aid has not been a fervent topic in fitness forums and research journals, but latest developments suggest that is about to change.
What is Taurine?
Taurine is an amino acid that was formerly labelled as non-essential, purely because it is manufactured by our bodies, therefore the need for it as a supplement was deemed surplus. However, while our bodies are able to produce taurine, it is not in sufficient amounts. Nothing could be further from the truth and in the present day, taurine is regarded as a conditionally essential amino acid that is crucial for many of the processes carried out within our bodies.
Taurine is also an osmolyte — it regulates water entry and exit in cells and prevents it from changing the cell excessively in size. Taurine essentially interacts with fats in cell membranes and stabilises them, keeping any structural changes that may affect the size of the cell in check.
Taurine is found in many foods and is often present in energy drinks. It is commonly taken as a supplement by many and some researchers label it as a 'wonder molecule'. Studies have shown taurine to provide several health benefits such as reducing the risk of diseases and significantly improving athletic performance. Additionally, taurine is very safe for daily consumption and has no known side effects when taken in reasonable doses.
The benefits of taurine are widespread. It is worth noting that a deficiency of taurine is very likely in vegan or vegetarian diets, those suffering from diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as those with poor functioning of the kidneys and liver. In addition, our bodies are simply not able to produce enough taurine as we age, making its supplementation essential.
Improves Fat Burning
Taurine effectively helps the body to metabolise fat, making it a valuable component in energy production and obtaining a lean physique. It is also a necessary mineral for many aspects of health, as beneficial fats play a critical role in the well-being of every cell in the body.
For your body to efficiently burn fat, there must be sufficient taurine in your system to raise the level of muscle carnitine, which is responsible for the transport of fats into bodily cells to be expended as energy. Taurine, therefore, plays a fundamental role in the initial phase of fat metabolism, when carnitine takes the fat into the cell for your body to burn it up.
In addition, taurine possesses the ability to drastically lower lipid levels within the bloodstream and enhances the body’s ability to cope with excess glucose. A lower lipid level may help protect your body from cardiovascular concerns when glucose tolerance is impaired, which more often than not, paves the pathway leading to diabetes.
Enhances Cognitive Health
Taurine exists in incredibly high concentrations in the brain and plays a neuromodulatory role in this area. Taurine alters the actions of inhibitory neurotransmitters like gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which is considered to be the medium for increased focus, that is linked to taurine supplementation. Moreover, taurine-based energy drinks have been shown to improve focus and brain performance.
The antioxidant action of taurine generates taurine chloramine (TauCl) and taurine bromamine (TauBr), both of which contain anti-inflammatory properties. Furthermore, the lack of TauCl generation in the body may worsen inflammation-related joint damage in rheumatoid arthritis. This makes taurine highly effective in treating acute inflammation, which is caused by damaged cells, irritants, infections or cancer.
Improves Insulin Health
Several studies have indicated that taurine is a great supplement for improving insulin sensitivity by making the cells more sensitive to glucose uptake and insulin binding by multiple mechanisms.
Taurine provides an anorexigenic effect on the hypothalamus gland, and as a result, minimises cravings and hunger pangs by improving metabolism and energy production. A recent study in the Journal of Amino Acids reported that the anorexigenic action of taurine enhances the role of insulin to limit food intake and helps delay body fat gain.
Additionally, taurine produces an antioxidant effect and has been found to reduce chronic inflammation in the hypothalamus. An inflamed hypothalamus may result in higher insulin production by the pancreas, which in turn, leads to obesity.
Reduces Cholesterol Level
High cholesterol level is the common highlight of cardiovascular disease. Taurine is necessary for the production of enzymes that cause more cholesterol to be excreted in bile. Taurine has also been shown to further reduce low density lipoproteins (LDL), or often referred to as 'bad cholesterol'. In essence, taurine shields your body from cardiovascular disease and the hardening of arteries.
The Bottom Line
With its array of benefits, it is no wonder fitness experts regard taurine as a longevity nutrient. The Japanese population is reported to have the highest longevity level in the world and this is thought to be attributed to the amount of taurine rich-foods consumed in their daily staple diet, such as meat and seafood. Scientists proposed a dose of 1500 to 3000 milligrams of taurine per day to reap the full benefits of this amino acid.