- The Benefits and Uses of Taurine
- People love taurine for its exercise-boosting potential—but is it legit?
- So should you supplement with taurine?
- Health Benefits of Taurine
- Benefits of Taurine
- Antioxidant Protection
- Improved Exercise Performance
- Maintenance of Healthy Cholesterol Levels
- Protection of the Nervous System
- Heart Function Support
- Taurine and Cats
- Dietary Sources of Taurine
- How Much Should I Take?
- Side Effects
- Taurine Supplementation Lowers Blood Pressure and Improves Vascular Function in Prehypertension | Hypertension
- Study Design and Procedures
- Statistical Analysis
- What Is Taurine? | Taurine Benefits & Side Effects
- What is taurine?
- Where does taurine come from?
- What does taurine do?
- 1. Taurine impacts health
- 2. May impact muscle and performance
- 3. May improve exercise performance
- 4. Acts as an antioxidant and improves recovery
- Taurine supplements | Safety & dosage
- Take home message
The Benefits and Uses of Taurine
Jack Taylor/Getty Images
Taurine is an amino acid found in the body, particularly in the heart, brain, eyes, and muscles. Although our bodies can make taurine it can also be consumed in food. A synthetic form of taurine is a key ingredient in supplements and energy drinks such as Red Bull. Some believe that taurine can improve mental capacity and athletic performance.
Although low levels of taurine have been linked to several conditions (including eye diseases and cardiovascular problems), research on the benefits of taurine supplements is limited.
Proponents claim that taurine can improve cognitive function, enhance athletic performance, preserve eyesight, boost heart health, control blood sugar, and increase energy levels. Taurine is also known to act as an antioxidant.
Here's a look at some key findings from the available research on the health effects of taurine:
Preliminary research suggests that taurine may help combat heart disease, according to a research review published in Experimental and Clinical Cardiology.
The authors note that taurine may offer a number of cardiovascular benefits such as protection against hardening of the arteries, but caution that more research is needed before taurine supplements can be recommended for the prevention or treatment of any heart condition.
In another study, scientists discovered that taurine supplements may help reduce levels of homocysteine (an amino acid shown to raise heart disease risk when detected at elevated levels).
Published in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology in 2009, the study involved 22 healthy middle-aged women.
After four weeks of taking 3 grams of daily taurine supplements, study participants showed a significant decrease in homocysteine levels.
Taurine may help treat high blood pressure, according to a 2016 study published in Hypertension. For the study, people with prehypertension received either taurine supplementation or a placebo for 12 weeks. Taurine supplementation decreased blood pressure, especially in those with high-normal blood pressure.
Taurine is a common ingredient in energy drinks. While some preliminary studies show that taurine may improve mental performance and increase exercise endurance, overall research on the energy-enhancing effects of taurine is limited.
What's more, a 2010 report published in The Physician and Sportsmedicine states that the fatigue-fighting effects of energy drinks are most ly due to their caffeine content rather than their taurine content.
Taurine may cause some side effects including itching, nausea, headache, and dizziness.
There have been a number of case reports of adverse effects related to the consumption of energy drinks containing taurine, such as seizures and cardiovascular effects.
In a case report, a 19-year-old man developed a rare skin condition known as erythema multiforme. A drink containing taurine was believed to be the cause.
There is also a reported case of a bodybuilder suffering brain damage after consuming 14 grams of taurine with insulin and anabolic steroids. It is not known if the brain damage was due to the taurine or the other drugs taken.
If you notice any serious side effects while taking taurine supplements, it's important to discontinue your use of taurine.
Supplements haven't been tested for safety and due to the fact that dietary supplements are largely unregulated, the content of some products may differ from what is specified on the product label.
Also keep in mind that the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.
First isolated from ox bile, the name taurine is derived from the Latin word for ox or bull, “taurus.” Despite the myth that taurine is derived from bull sperm, the form of taurine in beverages and most supplements is a synthetic form—meaning that is is made in a laboratory. The main food sources of taurine are meat, fish, and dairy.
A safe or effective dose of taurine has not been determined. Amounts that have been used in clinical trials range from 1.5-6 grams of taurine per day in two or three divided doses (for congestive heart failure) and 1.5-4 grams of taurine daily for up to 3 months (for hepatitis).
Since taurine is often used in energy drinks, it is important to consider all of your current medications, herbal supplements, and possible health conditions before consuming the beverages. Just because these products are sold on store shelves does not mean that they are safe or effective for everyone to use.
Taurine is also sold in capsule form in health food stores and online. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) advises consumers to check the product label before consuming supplements. Look for the Supplement Facts label to get information including the amount of active ingredients per serving, and other added ingredients ( fillers, binders, and flavorings).
Lastly, the NIH suggests that you look for a product that contains a seal of approval from a third-party organization that provides quality testing. These organizations include U.S. Pharmacopeia, ConsumerLab.com, and NSF International.
A seal of approval from one of these organizations does not guarantee the product's safety or effectiveness but it does provide assurance that the product was properly manufactured, contains the ingredients listed on the label, and does not contain harmful levels of contaminants.
Although taurine may offer some beneficial health effects, self-treating an existing health problem with taurine supplements and avoiding doctor-prescribed care can have serious consequences. If you're considering the use of taurine supplements for a chronic condition, consult your doctor to determine a safe and effective dosage.
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Schaffer S, Kim HW. Effects and Mechanisms of Taurine as a Therapeutic Agent. Biomol Ther. 2018;26(3):225-241. doi:10.4062/biomolther.2017.251
De Luca A, Pierno S, Camerino DC. Taurine: the appeal of a safe amino acid for skeletal muscle disorders. J Transl Med. 2015;13:243. doi:10.1186/s12967-015-0610-1
Jong CJ, Azuma J, Schaffer S. Mechanism underlying the antioxidant activity of taurine: prevention of mitochondrial oxidant production. Amino Acids. 2012;42(6):2223-2232. doi:10.1007/s00726-011-0962-7
Xu Y-J, Arneja AS, Tappia PS, Dhalla NS. The potential health benefits of taurine in cardiovascular disease. Exp Clin Cardiol. 2008;13(2):57-65.
Ahn CS. Effect of taurine supplementation on plasma homocysteine levels of the middle-aged Korean women. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2009;643:415-422. doi:10.1007/978-0-387-75681-3_43
Sun Q, Wang B, Li Y, et al. Taurine Supplementation Lowers Blood Pressure and Improves Vascular Function in Prehypertension: Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Hypertension. 2016;67(3):541-549. doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.115.06624
Ballard SL, Wellborn-Kim JJ, Clauson KA. Effects of commercial energy drink consumption on athletic performance and body composition. Phys Sportsmed. 2010;38(1):107-117. doi:10.3810/psm.2010.04.1768
Begolli Gerqari AM, Ferizi M, Halimi S, et al. Erythema exsudativum multiforme induced by a taurine-containing energy drink. Acta Dermatovenerol Alp Pannonica Adriat. 2016;25(4):83-84. doi:10.15570/actaapa.2016.24
Maya Y. Pharmacological Value of Caffeine, Taurine and Arginine in Nutritional Supplements and their Relation to Well Known Socially Important Diseases. International Journal of Nutrition and Food Sciences. 2015;4(1):24-29. doi:10.11648/j.ijnfs.s.2015040101.15
National Institutes of Health. Dietary Supplements. Updated June 24, 2011.
- Taurine. Professional Monograph. The Natural Medicines Database. 1/31/2019.
- Ahn CS. Effect of taurine supplementation on plasma homocysteine levels of the middle-aged Korean women. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2009;643:415-22.
- Kong WX, Chen SW, Li YL, Zhang YJ, Wang R, Min L, Mi X. Effects of taurine on rat behaviors in three anxiety models. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2006 Feb;83(2):271-6.
- Miyazaki T, Matsuzaki Y, Ikegami T, Miyakawa S, Doy M, Tanaka N, Bouscarel B. Optimal and effective oral dose of taurine to prolong exercise performance in rat. Amino Acids. 2004 Dec;27(3-4):291-8.
- Sun Q, Wang B, Li Y, et al. Taurine Supplementation Lowers Blood Pressure and Improves Vascular Function in Prehypertension: Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Hypertension. 2016 Mar;67(3):541-9.
- Xu YJ, Arneja AS, Tappia PS, Dhalla NS. The potential health benefits of taurine in cardiovascular disease. Exp Clin Cardiol. 2008 Summer;13(2):57-65.
People love taurine for its exercise-boosting potential—but is it legit?
Trying to hit a new PR at the gym? Sometimes breaking through a performance plateau can be frustrating—which is why some corners of the internet would recommend turning to supplements taurine for a boost.
So what is taurine? “Our body makes taurine on its own and it is also found in some foods, mainly in animal products,” says Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, founder of Real Nutrition.
It’s a sulfur amino acid, meaning that it has a sulfuric compound in it called sulfhydryl, and helps with protein structure in your body.
There are several sulfur amino acids, but this one is called “taurine” because it was first discovered in the bile of bulls, says Steven Gundry, MD, author of The Longevity Paradox: How to Die Young at a Ripe Old Age.
What’s special about taurine? Research has found that the amino acid has certain potential antioxidant and metabolism-aiding properties, which is why it’s a popular supplement ingredient. Here’s what you should know about its potential benefits.
What are some taurine benefits I should know about?
1. It may be good for brain health. Taurine is one of the few antioxidants that can cross the blood-brain barrier (a filtering mechanism in your body that prevents some substances from reaching the brain) Dr.
Gundry says, which is why studies have shown it can help reduce seizures in those who have drug-resistant epilepsy (although this was a mouse study, so results aren’t conclusive) and improve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
“It may stimulate the growth of new brain neurons,” he adds.
2. It could help improve cholesterol and prediabetes. Animal studies have also showed that taurine may help reduce cholesterol levels by lowering triglycerides but again, take that with a grain of salt. There are human studies, however, that show taurine supplementation could reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome (risk factors that could predict diabetes and cardiovascular disease).
3. It’s good for your eyes. “Taurine has been found to protect the eyes and repair the retina that is caused by oxidative damage and excessive exposure to light,” says Richard Firshein, DO, integrative and precision-based medicine expert and founder of the Firshein Center. “Low taurine is found in those individuals that have cataracts later in life.”
4. It may help with physical performance. Taurine is actually an ingredient found in many sports and energy drinks, but the jury’s still out on whether it actually makes a difference. “The more taurine in someone’s system, the better their muscles have been found to perform and recover,” Dr. Firshein says. Shapiro agrees.
“It may also help remove waste products that cause muscle fatigue and protects against muscle cell damage,” she says. Dr. Gundry, however, says there isn’t a lot of research to support this. One human trial showed a small improvement in athletic performance for runners, but he says other trials failed to confirm the benefits.
5. It’s good for your heart health. “There is a direct correlation between low taurine levels and high blood pressure,” Dr. Firshein says.
“It increases endorphin production in the brain, which can lower stress and blood pressure.” A 2016 clinical trial also found that taurine supplementation decreased blood pressure in prehypertensive individuals.
In Japan, high doses of taurine are an approved treatment for heart failure.
Curious about the supplements an expert does recommend? Here’s what our favorite dietitian says:
So should you supplement with taurine?
You can get your taurine fill from animal proteins meat, fish, and dairy. But if you’re a plant-based eater or are just interested in taurine’s brain- or workout-boosting potential, talk to your doctor, dietitian, or other trusted practitioner to make sure that it won’t interfere with any health conditions you have or medication that you may be taking.
Also: If you’re drinking an energy drink that has taurine in it, be mindful of the caffeine content—too much caffeine can cause jitters, affect your sleep cycle, and in rare cases, cause heart issues and other serious health consequences.
If you and your doctor ultimately decide that supplementing with taurine is something right for you, “research has shown that three grams per day of supplementation is safe,” Dr. Gundry says. Good to know.
Curious about other popular supplements? Here’s what you should know about vitamin K and vitamin B12.
Health Benefits of Taurine
Taurine is an amino acid found naturally in the body. Un many other amino acids, it is not incorporated into longer protein chains and it is not considered one of the essential amino acids in humans. This is because taurine can be synthesized in the body, through a process involving vitamin B6 and another amino acid called cysteine.
Taurine has been of interest to scientists for some years, as it has been discovered to have a unique structure. Experts have therefore theorized that it seems ly taurine may play some very important roles in the body.
In supplement form it tends to be particularly popular among weight lifters and other individuals undergoing strenuous physical activity, but there is some evidence to suggest that taurine’s impact on the body could be far more wide-reaching.
Benefits of Taurine
Taurine is found throughout the human body, but seems to be present in high concentrations in very specific parts of the body. Firstly, high levels are found in muscle fibre, which suggests it may prove to be important for athletic function. Secondly, scientists have noted that high concentrations of taurine tend to be found in major organs such as the heart and kidneys.
But what are the specific benefits of taurine for our health?
The creation of free radicals is a normal part of metabolism, and it has been proposed that the high levels of taurine seen in key organs may play an important antioxidant role, helping to protect the body from these potentially damaging molecules.
A study involving 36 volunteers provided them either with a taurine supplement, a branched chain amino acid (BCAA) supplement or a mixture of the two. These supplements were taken for a two week period before undergoing a resistance training routine.
Thereafter supplementation was continued for a further three days, before subjects reported on any muscle soreness experienced. The results showed that the combination of BCAAs with 2g of taurine, taken three times a day, helped to reduce muscle damage after exercise and the subsequent soreness experienced.
Another similar experiment also sought to assess the impact of taurine on post-exercise muscle soreness and recovery. Taurine supplementation was carefully timed, being provided either half an hour before exercise, immediately afterward or twice a day for a period of four days post exercise.
The first surprise was that no difference in muscle soreness was experienced whether taurine was taken before or straight after exercise.
More interestingly, however, muscle soreness was considerably reduced by those individuals taking the supplement for longer periods of time after exercise.
The scientists concluded that the key here is taking taurine regularly after exercise for maximum impact, and that it could reduce muscle soreness and damage “when ingested on recovery days”.
Improved Exercise Performance
It is known that intense bouts of exercise can increase oxidative stress in the body. This increase in free radicals has the potential to damage cells of the body, and even DNA.
It is believed that this activity plays a part in all manner of health conditions, and even in the science of aging, so finding ways to limit the negative impact of free radicals is of great interest to scientists.
It has been suggested that taurine may play a role here, and that the reduced muscle soreness many people experience after supplementing with taurine may be related to these antioxidant properties. Indeed, one study claimed that by limiting oxidative stress in this way, muscle fibres may be positively impacted, leading to higher performance.
A study aiming to address this hypothesis gave one half of their volunteers a taurine supplement every day for a week, while the other half acted as a control.
They then underwent an intense cycling challenge, where they were asked to continue until they could go no further.
The taurine group showed significant increases in the time it took to reach exhaustion and also demonstrated a higher output of power.
At the same time, the scientists found that signs of oxidative stress were fewer in those individuals taking taurine. The results suggest that “taurine may attenuate exercise-induced DNA damage and enhance the capacity of exercise”.
Maintenance of Healthy Cholesterol Levels
A group of volunteers was provided either with 3 grams of taurine per day or a placebo pill for a period of seven weeks. At the end of the study, the participants had their “atherogenic index” (AI) values calculated. AI is a medical test which considers the ratio of different cholesterols in the body, and is considered an accurate prediction of future cardiovascular problems.
The taurine group saw a significant decline in this metric, whilst individuals on the placebo saw no such change. Interestingly, the taurine group was also found to have reduced body weight. The scientists claim that these results indicate that taurine “may have an important role in cardiovascular disease prevention”.
In another study, a group of male volunteers were deliberately fed a high cholesterol diet for three weeks, together with either a taurine supplement or a placebo. Samples were taken throughout in order to monitor their cholesterol levels.
The interesting finding was that while cholesterol levels rose in the placebo group, the same pattern was not reflected in those individuals taking the taurine.
It therefore seems that taurine may positively impact cholesterol levels, and so could offer some protection against cardiovascular complications.
Protection of the Nervous System
Your body exists in an ongoing state of flux, with molecules and cells continually in transit. For example, when we consume food it is rapidly broken down into smaller units, which are then transported around the body to the target site that requires them. At the same time, other elements are eliminated from the body in an ongoing process of regeneration.
Homeostasis is the name scientists give to the maintenance the correct balance under such conditions.
There is evidence to suggest that taurine may play an important role here, particularly with regards to the nervous system.
In order for messages to pass from one nerve to another, chemicals known as “neurotransmitters” are utilized. You can think of them rather a postman, carefully transporting a message from one place to another. The most common of these in the human body is known as glutamate. What is interesting is the impact that glutamate can have on nerve cells.
Studies suggest that when neurons come into contact with glutamate they lose the ability to regulate their levels of calcium. This can have serious impacts if it weren’t for the presence of taurine.
Studies suggest that once nerves have been stimulated by glutamate they start to release taurine. This taurine, in turn, helps to regulate the level of calcium entering or leaving the cell.
As a result, homeostasis is maintained and nerve cells are protected from damage.
Heart Function Support
Some experts have suggested that taurine’s ability to control calcium transport may also play a part in its ability to support muscle function, particularly with regards to the heart. This may further supplement its seeming ability to impact cholesterol levels in the body, helping to provide further benefits to those at risk of cardiovascular conditions.
This theory is supported by a study from Osaka. 14 patients with congestive heart failure were supplemented with taurine alongside their conventional treatment for a period of four weeks. The Japanese doctors found that taurine significantly improved heart function when compared to those individuals not receiving the supplement.
Furthermore, while a number of patients receiving just the standard treatment showed worsening symptoms, none of the taurine group showed any decline. The experts suggested that their findings indicate “that the addition of taurine to conventional therapy is safe and effective for the treatment of patients with congestive heart failure”.
Taurine and Cats
While taurine is a non-essential amino acid in humans, things are very different for felines. Cats seem unable to produce this nutrient, and taurine deficiencies can lead to significant problems. In adult cats, for example, a lack of taurine in the diet leads to retinal changes which, if advanced enough, can lead to blindness.
Health problems may be even more severe in nursing cats and their kittens. Not only have scientists found that reduced taurine levels can significantly reduce breeding success in cats, but furthermore the young of such cats, if they survive, tend to develop neurological problems.
For this reason it is crucial that pet cats are provided with suitable levels of taurine in their diet. Many commercially-available cat foods are now fortified with taurine, or a number of taurine supplements are available from specialist retailers.
Dietary Sources of Taurine
It is possible to ensure you are getting enough taurine through a balanced diet.
High levels of taurine tend to be found in animal-based foods such as fish and meat, so these should be a key feature of your diet if taurine levels are a concern.
For individuals wanting to increase their intake significantly, such as with a view to boosting exercise performance, taurine is also available in supplement form.
Note, however, that as taurine is not available from plant-based sources, even supplement forms of taurine are generally not suitable for vegetarians or vegans. Indeed, scientists have noted that vegans tend to have particularly low levels of taurine in their bodies, though as yet it is not clear whether this leads to any unforeseen medical problems.
How Much Should I Take?
There is currently no official recommendation for how much taurine we should be consuming for maximum impact.
Most scientific studies which have demonstrated positive results have tended to use relatively high concentrations of some 2-5 grams of taurine per day.
Note that excess taurine is generally not stored in the body, and is instead excreted. This means that toxic build-ups are unly.
Studies of taurine in humans are still in their infancy, and very few studies have been made regarding its long-term safety. As a result, it is recommended that pregnant women avoid using taurine supplements.
Young children should receive enough taurine naturally when breastfed, as the body’s ability to produce taurine is not yet fully functional at young ages.
For this reason, some infant formulas and baby foods are fortified with taurine.
In studies of healthy adults no serious complications have been found. It is important to underline, however, that long-term studies have not yet been carried out.
There is some evidence to suggest that taurine may interact negatively with lithium. In any case, you are recommended to speak to your doctor before starting to take any new supplement, as they can provide you with guidance on safety, and any potential interactions with our ongoing medication regime.
Taurine is a naturally-occurring amino acid, and scientists are only just starting to scratch the surface of what it does for the body. Research to date suggests that it may boost exercise output, assist with recovery and positively influence the cardiovascular system.
While it is possible to get enough taurine thanks to a balanced diet including suitable levels of lean meat, some people opt to supplement in order to ensure optimum levels.
Taurine supplements tend to be particularly popular in fitness circles, where it is believed to support effective performance.
Shop for Taurine here.
Taurine Supplementation Lowers Blood Pressure and Improves Vascular Function in Prehypertension | Hypertension
Taurine, the most abundant, semiessential, sulfur-containing amino acid, is well known to lower blood pressure (BP) in hypertensive animal models. However, no rigorous clinical trial has validated whether this beneficial effect of taurine occurs in human hypertension or prehypertension, a key stage in the development of hypertension.
In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, we assessed the effects of taurine intervention on BP and vascular function in prehypertension. We randomly assigned 120 eligible prehypertensive individuals to receive either taurine supplementation (1.6 g per day) or a placebo for 12 weeks.
Taurine supplementation significantly decreased the clinic and 24-hour ambulatory BPs, especially in those with high-normal BP. Mean clinic systolic BP reduction for taurine/placebo was 7.2/2.6 mm Hg, and diastolic BP was 4.7/1.3 mm Hg. Mean ambulatory systolic BP reduction for taurine/placebo was 3.8/0.3 mm Hg, and diastolic BP was 3.5/0.6 mm Hg.
In addition, taurine supplementation significantly improved endothelium-dependent and endothelium-independent vasodilation and increased plasma H2S and taurine concentrations. Furthermore, changes in BP were negatively correlated with both the plasma H2S and taurine levels in taurine-treated prehypertensive individuals.
To further elucidate the hypotensive mechanism, experimental studies were performed both in vivo and in vitro.
The results showed that taurine treatment upregulated the expression of hydrogen sulfide–synthesizing enzymes and reduced agonist-induced vascular reactivity through the inhibition of transient receptor potential channel subtype 3–mediated calcium influx in human and mouse mesenteric arteries. In conclusion, the antihypertensive effect of chronic taurine supplementation shows promise in the treatment of prehypertension through improvement of vascular function.
Prehypertension is highly prevalent worldwide.1 It is estimated that ≈30% to 50% of the population have this condition. It frequently complicates other cardiometabolic risk factors and is closely associated with coronary heart disease, stroke, and renal dysfunction.
2 Early intervention in prehypertension substantially prevents the incidence of hypertension and related damage to target organs.
Currently, several strategies are used to treat prehypertension, including the incorporation of therapeutic lifestyle changes, such as healthy dietary intake and regular physical activity, as well as the use of antihypertensive drugs, such as an angiotensin II receptor blocker.
Although these treatments improve prehypertension, poor compliance and limitations associated with antihypertensive medications prevent their application in the general population. Thus, there is an urgent need to identify reliable and accurate measures to prevent the development of prehypertension.
Taurine (2-aminoethanesulfonic acid) is the most abundant, semiessential, sulfur-containing amino acid.
It can be synthesized in vivo by cysteine in the presence of cysteine dioxygenase,3 but taurine is mainly acquired from dietary sources, such as eggs, meat, and seafood.
Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is synthesized from 2 sulfur-containing amino acids, l-cysteine and l-methionine, by the 3 enzymes, cystathionine-γ-lyase (CSE), cystathionine-β-synthetase (CBS), and 3-mercaptopyruvate sulfurtransferase.4
Taurine has several potentially beneficial cardiovascular effects that involve regulation of the nitric oxide system and endothelial function,5,6 the renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system,7,8 the oxidative stress system and sympathoadrenal activity,9 and the endoplasmic reticulum stress system.
10,11 Epidemiological studies have demonstrated a reduction in plasma sulfur amino acids in hypertensive patients.12 Several clinical studies have reported that diets rich in taurine can reduce cardiovascular risks regardless of ethnicity and genetic background.
13,14 In addition, animal experiments have shown that taurine depletion accelerates the development of high salt–induced hypertension.
15 Although taurine has been shown to lower blood pressure (BP) in several hypertensive animal models, few rigorous and long-term clinical trials have confirmed this beneficial effect in human hypertension.9
Another key question is what is the mechanism of the antihypertensive effects of taurine supplementation?16 Recent animal and human studies have shown that taurine supplementation lowers BP and improves vascular function, possibly through suppression of renin–angiotensin–aldosterone system activity,17,18 augmentation of kallikrein activity in the blood and peripheral tissues,19 suppression of the renal sympathetic nervous system,9,20 diuretic and natriuretic activities, and vasorelaxant activity.21 H2S can regulate vascular tone through several mechanisms, such as acting on ATP-sensitive potassium channels.22–24 A recent study has found that H2S also affects transient receptor potential channels (TRPCs) in mesenchymal stem cells and regulates calcium homeostasis.4 Our previous studies have demonstrated that TRPC3-mediated calcium signaling contributes to the development of hypertension,25,26 but it is unclear whether the hypotensive effects of taurine and H2S are associated with modulation of TRPC3 channels in the vasculature. In this study, we investigated the effects of chronic taurine supplementation on BP and vascular function in prehypertension by performing a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial.
Detailed Methods are provided in the online-only Data Supplement.
Study Design and Procedures
This study was a prospective single-center, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial that was conducted in accordance with the CONSORT (Consolidated Standards of Reporting Trials) guidelines for the presentation of clinical trials (CONSORT 2010 Explanation and Elaboration) and the principles of the Declaration of Helsinki. The protocol was approved by the ethics committee of the Daping Hospital, Third Military Medical University. The protocol is registered in the US National Library of Medicine (http://www.ClinicalTrials.gov, identifier: NCT01816698).
Participants were recruited at the Center for Hypertension and Metabolic Diseases of Chongqing from December 2012 to December 2014. They were screened for eligibility after written informed consent was obtained.
The prehypertension inclusion criteria for the first visit included the following: an age of between 18 and 75 years and an systolic BP (SBP) of 120 to 139 mm Hg or a diastolic BP (DBP) of 80 to 89 mm Hg, as determined by performing repeated measurements with a mercury sphygmomanometer. The main exclusion criteria included the following: clinical evidence of recent infection, pregnancy, coronary artery disease, peripheral vascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, renal dysfunction, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, tumor, mental disease, the use of other medications, or being enrolled in another trial within the last 3 months.
In total, 120 untreated participants (51 men and 69 women; age, 56.75±8.26 years) and 58 age-matched normotensive control subjects without taurine supplementation were enrolled only as baseline comparison in the study. These untreated participants were randomly assigned to either a placebo group or a taurine group (Figure S1 in the online-only Data Supplement).
All subjects completed a standardized questionnaire administered by trained personnel on their history of cardiovascular diseases and other illnesses. All subjects were asked not to alter their usual diet over the course of the 12-week study. They all underwent standardized clinical and laboratory examinations.
BP was measured by a physician using a mercury sphygmomanometer after each subject had rested for at least 5 minutes in the seated position. Three measurements were obtained at 1-minute intervals, and the average was used to define the SBP and DBP.
Laboratory tests were performed after an overnight fast, including measurements of fasting plasma glucose, triglyceride, cholesterol, hepatic enzyme, uric acid, blood urea nitrogen, and serum creatine levels.
For all participants, we analyzed the changes from baseline (randomization) to 12 weeks in BP, vascular functions, biochemical and renal parameters, and other parameters.
The sample size was chosen to ensure for 90% power to detect a 3-mm Hg difference in our primary outcome, a change in SBP, with a 2-sided significance level of 0.05 and assuming a dropout rate of 20%, according to previous published data and a preliminary trial of prehypertensive participants.
All analyses were intention-to-treat populations (defined as all patients who took at least 1 dose and had at least 1 efficacy measurement available after randomization), with the last value carried forward for missing values.
Comparisons of continuous variables between the placebo and taurine groups were analyzed using the Mann–Whitney test (GraphPad Prism; La Jolla, CA). Comparisons of variables before and after treatments were analyzed using the Wilcoxon signed-rank matched pair test. The χ2 test was used for categorical variables.
Spearman nonparametric correlation analysis was performed to determine the relationships between BP changes and other factors. The immunoblotting results, wire myograph results, and PTI (Photon Technology International) results were compared using the Mann–Whitney test. A 2-tailed P
What Is Taurine? | Taurine Benefits & Side Effects
If you’ve found taurine listed in the ingredients on your energy drink, you might be wondering exactly what it is and what it does. Un some of the other ingredients in that can, this isn’t some scary chemical, but an amino acid. Here’s everything you need to know about taurine.
What is taurine?
Taurine is an amino acid that occurs in some animal-based foods and naturally in some of our body’s tissues.
Taurine makes up a large amount of the “free” amino acids that are circulating in the body instead of making up proteins.1 It contains sulphur, which makes it common in many of the body’s physiologic functions.
1 Its role in many energy-related reactions makes it a common ingredient in energy drinks and related supplements.
Where does taurine come from?
Taurine occurs naturally in your body, but is also found in common animal-based food sources. The highest levels of taurine in food occurs in meat, fish, and dairy products.
2 It’s considered “conditionally essential” to the human diet, meaning your body has some of its own, but benefits from getting even more from food.
3 Poor health conditions are often associated with low levels of taurine, implying that it’s crucial for helping prevent health issues. It’s also found in lower levels as we age, meaning it might play a role in aging.
What does taurine do?
Taurine plays a role in many functions in muscle cells related to the movement of calcium ions as well as the process in which ATP, the cell’s energy molecules, are turned over.
1 It also assists with the stabilisation of cell members, anti-oxidation (the process of protecting your cells from the damage of free radicals), regulation of fluid balance, and stimulation of glycolysis and glycogenesis (energy processes).
Simply put, taurine seems to be involved in many of the processes related to energy usage and muscle function. For this reason, researchers are fascinated with all of the possible impacts of taurine on exercise and performance.
1. Taurine impacts health
Taurine is considered a nutraceutical due to its many varied impacts on health, including treatment of fatigue and muscle disorders, improvements in immune function, inflammation, and neuroprotective effects.4 This wide range of health-related benefits has the potential to benefit millions of people who struggle with the impact of these health conditions.
2. May impact muscle and performance
The most desirable potential impacts of taurine are related to performance and muscle, as a possible ergogenic (performance enhancing) aid.
So, can it really make you stronger and faster? The proposed benefits of supplementing with taurine are related to its impact on performance and muscle tissue. One study tested running performance after supplementing with taurine but did not see significant improvement.
4 However, elevated levels of taurine post-exercise were related to quicker recovery and less oxidative stress on the muscle tissue.4
3. May improve exercise performance
A more recent study built on this idea and showed significant improvement in performance during endurance exercise after just one single dose of taurine.
5 This implies that body builders and cardio-based athletes may both benefit from taking it prior to their workout.
Another study showed that muscles were able to sustain a greater load prior to contraction, meaning that muscles can sustain greater stress for longer periods of time.6
Taurine has great potential to help improve recovery after weightlifting by reducing the oxidative stress of exercise on the muscles post-workout. Although the previously mentioned study did not show significant performance enhancement of running, the subjects did show small increases in speed and decreases in heart rate, implying that they worked more efficiently after supplementation.4
4. Acts as an antioxidant and improves recovery
Taurine seems to act as a strong antioxidant that also improves the body’s own recovery response. So, it may work two-fold by preventing the damage and stress of exercise but also speeding up the muscles’ rebuilding.
Because it’s a common ingredient in energy drinks, it was often thought that taurine in combination with caffeine was a requirement for ergogenic effects, however, a study that used taurine alone still showed a positive impact.
Research in the area of taurine supplementation is still new and limited to studies that focused on various groups of athletes in different sports and in different conditions. For this reason, the promising impact of taurine should be further investigated to help better advise athletes how to make it most useful for them.
Taurine supplements | Safety & dosage
The study that showed endurance benefits from taurine had varied recommendations between 1 and 6 grams in a single dose.5 Due to its presence in many animal-based food, it may be necessary in larger amounts for vegetarians or vegans.
It may also show a greater effect in these populations if they typically function with sub-optimal levels of taurine and then begin to supplement. None of the studies showed any negative side effects of taking taurine, but any supplement may impact other medications or health conditions.
It’s always best to speak with your doctor before starting out with a new supplement.
Take home message
Taurine is a simple way to boost your supplement needs with potential performance improvements and definite impact on speeding up muscle recovery. It has strong antioxidant properties, even when not used in conjunction with caffeine.
Its decreasing levels as you age means that supplementation may even help reduce some of the negative effects of the aging process.
So, whether it’s in your energy drink, Friday-night steak, or as a supplement, taurine could be exactly what you need to feel on top form.