What’s with some of these secondary ingredients that we see in the ‘mix’ of our favorite meal replacement shakes, bars, and supplements – I’m assuming that they must be good for me otherwise they would be excluded from the ingredients, right? Lets take a closer look at this wonder supplement to see just how wondrous it can be. Taurine, which is a ‘conditional’ amino acid – meaning that the body does produce it – however it’s usually supplied and stored in lower quantities, therefore it’s still recommended that it be consumed from food or supplement products also.
Taurine is a sulfur containing amino acid derived from the amino acid cysteine and is the most abundant intracellular amino acid that you’ve probably never heard of. Taurine is found in large amounts in the brain, retina, heart, and blood cells called platelets. Despite being grouped as an amino acid and having the suffix – ine – Taurine belongs to the ‘sulfonic‘ acid group rather than the ‘carboxyl’ group found in proteinogen amino acids, so it won’t be listed with the 20 ‘protein’ amino acids.
For starters, taurine supports neurological development and helps regulate the level of water and mineral salts in the blood. Taurine is also thought to have powerful antioxidant properties, (prevents cell damage by inhibiting oxidation and cleansing and detoxifying the body of free radicals).
Taurine is stored within the bile that is located in the gall bladder and helps the body absorb and process fats to be used as energy.
Like most aminos, taurine can be ingested by eating animal products like meat, fish, milk, & egg and it’s commonly available as a dietary supplement. Some studies suggest that taurine supplementation may improve athletic performance, which may explain why taurine is used in many sports drinks. Up to 3,000 milligrams a day of supplemental taurine is considered safe.
Taurine increases muscle contractility (the force with which muscle cells pull together) in both skeletal and cardiac muscle. That means more powerful workouts as muscle works harder. Taurine helps exercising muscle rid itself of lactic acid. Lactic acid is what causes the sensation of pain and soreness during physical activity and is what limits how much a muscle can continue to work. By detoxifying the lactic acid and removing it from the body, taurine is able to help muscles work longer therefor improving performance.
In addition to performance enhancement, some people take taurine supplements as medicine to treat: congestive heart failure(CHF), high blood pressure, liver disease (hepatitis), high cholesterol, and cystic fibrosis. Other medicinal uses include: seizure disorders (epilepsy), autism, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), eye problems (disorders of the retina), diabetes, and alcoholism. It is also used to improve mental performance and as anti-antioxidant. Taurine also assist with motivation, relief of stress/anxiety, (increases the production of the neurotransmitter GABA that is necessary to control cortisol and adrenaline spikes) & lowers cortisol which assist athletes with fat to muscle ratios, (Web Md Online source 2013).
Taurine also aids in reducing stress and total body fat – proven in lab studies to help reduce abdominal fat, specifically. This process is facilitated when used in conjunction with carnitine, (an amino acid produced by the body and used mostly for energy and brain function) which forces the fat into the cells for energy consumption by the muscles. In addition the taurine and carnitine combo assist in: insulin regulation (aids in preventing diabetes), a better night’s sleep (best when used with magnesium), muscle recovery, raising testosterone while not raising estradiol, cardiovascular maintenance (while protecting the heart and lowering blood pressure thus improving one’s exercise capacity), suppressing the appetite by its ‘anorexigenic’ effects, (thus minimizing your body’s sensation of hunger by improving energy production and metabolism), and brain health, (which usually declines with age). Taurine has been proven effective in reversing the cognitive lapses that the elderly may experience as they age and young children as their brains continue to fully develop. (Men’s Journal, Aug 2013).
The connection between taurine and a long life is so strong that researchers have dubbed taurine,“The nutritional factor for the longevity of the Japanese.,” (Life Extension Magazine, June 2013). If you are interested in a longer, healthier, and more active life, consider supplementing with taurine and check out Fitness RX for Men’s supplement section for products related to such.