Taurine is an amino acid, which is what proteins are made of. It is a ubiquitous ingredient in energy drinks and is often promoted as an energy booster. However, is there any evidence that ingesting larger than normal amounts of taurine will increase a person’s energy level?
Before getting to the “energy” aspect, I want to give you a short overview of what taurine is. As mentioned above, taurine is an amino acid and is a very important one. In fact, “taurine [has] considerable biological significance” (Lourenco, p.266). It is so important because it is found in almost every tissue in the body, particularly the heart, brain, skeletal muscles, pineal gland, liver and the retina. Due to its functions, taurine supplementation has been found to have a positive affect with many conditions such as hypertension, arrhythmias, seizures, macular degeneration, and diabetes. The amount of taurine used typically ranges from one to six grams a day. This amount is often many times higher than what is typically ingested from dietary sources, which ranges from 40 to 400mg/day for non-vegetarians to virtually none from a strict vegan diet. With respect to supplemental taurine, the safety of this supplement is very good and many grams a day is not likely to cause any significant adverse effects.
Taurine is considered a conditionally essential amino acid. This means that an adult can typically make enough taurine, in the body, from other amino acids, particularly cysteine. However, taking in higher amounts may have some benefits as mentioned above. Additionally, because dietary taurine is mostly found in animal products, particularly in seafood and organ meats, people that follow a vegetarian or vegan diet may benefit from supplementing with taurine.
Now what about the “energy” aspect of taurine? Well it seems that there is no good evidence that supplemental taurine, found in energy drinks or supplements, gives someone an energy boost or helps with maintaining a higher energy level. As mentioned above, taurine has the potential to have positive health effects and is considered very safe are relatively high levels for most people. But when it comes to more energy, it falls short. So why is it in energy drinks? Like many things, it sounds good and boosts sales! But, the fact is, it is not the ingredient in energy drinks or supplements that can give you an energy boost.
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