How many of you have used an energy drink for a quick pick-me-up? Maybe for a late night session or early morning meeting? Many of them contain taurine which is a poorly understood ingredient.
Taurine is derived from the amino acid, cysteine, and is heavily concentrated in our bile as well as our brain, skeletal muscle, and intestines. It can be found naturally in seafood and meat which means vegetarians and vegans may not consume enough through their diet.
Taurine has been shown to help the heart in a number of ways. First, some research shows that it has the ability to lower cholesterol, specifically Apolipoprotein B and LDL (low-density lipoprotein). It can help improve those with congestive heart failure by increasing the effectiveness of heart-muscle contractions and force and has been used by athletes to improve overall performance. Taurine is a great antioxidant that can protect the heart cells themselves from ischemia.
Up to 3000mg per day is generally considered safe with the excess excreted through the kidneys. Minimal side effects have been reported by taurine itself however when mixed with energy drinks that contain other ingredients such as guarana and caffeine, people have reported racing heart, anxiety, hyperactivity and other ramped up feelings.
If you are someone who uses energy drinks on a regular basis, rest assured taurine is a safe amino acid that may actually be beneficial to your heart…keep in mind the other ingredients might not have the same effect.
1) Azuma J, Sawamura A, Awata N, et al. Therapeutic effect of taurine in congestive heart failure: a double-blind crossover trial. Clin Cardiol. 1985;8:276-282.
2) Jeejeebhoy F, Keith M, Freeman M, et al. Nutritional supplementation with MyoVive repletes essential cardiac myocyte nutrients and reduces left ventricular size in patients with left ventricular dysfunction. Am Heart J. 2002;143:1092-1100.
3) Nonaka H, Tsujino T, Watari Y, et al. Taurine prevents the decrease in expression and secretion of extracellular superoxide dismutase induced by homocysteine. Amelioration of homocysteine-induced endoplasmic reticulum stress by taurine. Circulation.