Taking a taurine supplement is supposed to deliver a host of benefits but has science really proven this to be true?
This article separates the fact from the fiction and answers the questions you need to know before deciding if taurine supplementation is right for you.
Taurine has long been touted to have wide ranging effects which could be beneficial to both elite and recreational athletes such as:
- Enhanced energy
- Increase muscle mass
- Increase strength
- Increase power
- Reduce muscle damage
- Speed up recovery
Taurine has long been touted to have wide ranging effects which could be beneficial to both elite and recreational athletes such as:• Enhanced energy• Increase muscle mass• Increase strength• Increase power• Reduce muscle damage• Speed up recovery
What is Taurine?
Taurine also known as L-Taurine is an amino acid which scientists believe we have more of than any other amino acid except glutamine.
Taurine is naturally found in breast milk, meat and poultry, eggs and fish and dairy products.
Whilst taurine is believed to have the range of benefits mentioned above, how they actually happen in your body is largely unknown. It is believed that taurine draws water into your muscles similar to creatine and as your muscle holds more water it gets bigger.
Again, similarly to creatine when your muscles have more water and blood in them they have more nutrients available which may be why taurine has been suggested to aid protein synthesis (building of new muscle) and hypertrophy (increase in muscular size).
Is Taking A Taurine Supplement safe?
Taurine is relatively new but has been well researched with studies showing taurine to be safe to consume and no side effects being reported in healthy subjects.
Energy drinks such as Red Bull contain 1-2g per serving and supplement manufacturers usually recommend 500mg–3g per day.
Studies into taurine supplement dose at 2-6g per day and show no negative effects.
One study had subjects taking excessive amounts, 14 grams daily and it was linked to a condition called encephalopathy which is a brain disease. However, the information was inconclusive and it wasn’t clear if taurine caused this or other drugs being taken at the time.
The only other negative report connected to taurine I’m aware of was the worsening of bipolar disorder caused by energy drinks containing taurine. Again, it was inconclusive whether or not taurine was responsible or other factors.
As with any supplement, if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding its best not to use a taurine supplement.
The bottom line appears to be that provided you are healthy taking a taurine supplement won’t cause you any health concerns but it’s probably best to dose conservatively to be sure.
3g per day seems to be the optimal amount as you don’t get any additional benefits by supplementing more than this anyway.
Does Science Support The Effects of A Taurine Supplement?
In this section we’re going to look at the results of the studies into taurine and we’ll see if the claimed benefits have any truth in them.
Despite taurine being in Red Bull and other energy products its not actually be proven to be a source of energy. However, there does seem to be a correlation between taurine levels and athletic performance.
When taurine levels become depleted it can cause performance to decrease so supplementation allows subjects to maintain performance for longer. It appears this is the case regardless of the type of exercise you do so whilst you may not feel more energetic, taurine may increase endurance.
Increase muscle mass/strength/power
When supplementing with taurine an athlete maintains normal to higher taurine levels and this has been shown to increase force production (e.g. strength).
When taurine levels fall so does strength so by having an abundance of taurine available your levels remain optimal and power and strength won’t suffer.
Building muscle is the result of progressive poundage; lifting heavier weights each week consistently.
If taurine helps you increase strength then it could help you build muscle although not directly.
Reduce muscle damage
I was unable to find studies showing a reduction is muscle damage post workout, the only study I could find was based on rats (animal studies don’t correlate to humans well) and it used excessive doses such as 30g so its not relevant.
Speed up recovery
Again I found nothing specific about recovery so cannot make any judgement about its effectiveness.
Taurine has shown some signs of being useful for reducing blood pressure and aiding those suffering from hypertension.
The mental/cognitive effects have also been studied but it was difficult to say whether or not it aided concentration or mental performance as it was studied while taken with
Taurine is safe to consume in moderate doses (max 3g per day) and science seems to support its effect on power and strength but many of its other attributes are unproven.
I believe supplementing with taurine could be helpful but you’d be taking a chance so it’s really a personal choice.
My preference would be to ditch taurine and stick with creatine for power/strength and caffeine for energy and focus. Both compounds are cheaper than taurine also which is good for those of you needing economical supplementation and they have more studies proving their benefits.
Final verdict: 2/5 – Potentially promising but better, cheaper options available with better supporting data