Taurine (a key ingredient in Red Bull) is a sulfur-containing amino acid that is naturally produced in the human body and found in certain foods such as meat, fish and dairy products. It has been marketed as a supplement for a variety of health benefits, including improving athletic performance as it may improve endurance and reduce muscle damage and fatigue, especially in older adults.
On a more serious note, if you are concerned about your heart, vegan or vegetarian and have a little bit of an alcohol issue, you may benefit from taking a taurine supplement.
If you drink Red Bull, do so in moderation due to its high caffeine content that can result in increased heart rate and blood pressure. Red Bull is also a diuretic and can lead to dehydration and can interfere with the effectiveness of some medications or exacerbate side effects. Rather take a taurine supplement.
Taurine has been suggested to have neuroprotective effects, potentially protecting the brain from certain types of damage. It has also been associated with reducing anxiety by promoting relaxation and reducing levels of adrenaline, similar to the neurotransmitter GABA.
TAURINE AND THE HEART
For years, scientists noticed a correlation between lagging levels of taurine and heart attack deaths. A study published in the European Journal of Nutrition1 investigated the association between dietary taurine intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality in a population of middle-aged men. The study found that higher taurine intake was associated with a lower risk of CVD mortality. And again in 2020, another study2 published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition found that lower taurine levels were associated with an increased risk of heart failure.
Taurine is one of the favourite remedies of many integrative practitioners for many good reasons. According to Dr Bernard Brom, taurine functions at the cell membrane, keeping potassium and magnesium inside the cells and keeping excess sodium out, much like a diuretic without the usual side effects of diuretic drugs. Because of its balancing effect on the flow of electrolytes, taurine’s proposed use is therefore in any tissue swelling or fluid accumulation such as congestive heart failure and for seizures. He says: ‘Taurine has major effect on cardiovascular health and why it is one of my favourite products for all kinds of cardiovascular problems including hypertension, coronary vessel disease and atherosclerosis.’
Atkins3 reports the use of taurine to treat seizures which he has seen happen many times and that the seizures return when the taurine has been stopped. Seizures caused by the swelling of brain tissue such as with brain tumours are relieved by taurine.
Atkins suggests its use for the management of puffy ankles as occurs after long plane flights or during a premenstrual phase. He claims that a few doses of taurine will do the trick. He has also used it for thousands of his patients with high blood pressure to encourage the excretion of excess fluid.
Taurine may reduce alcohol cravings and it improves liver function, helping to detoxify the liver, ridding the body from the metabolites and effects of alcohol. In a study conducted on patients with chronic hepatitis, it was observed that taking 2 grams of taurine three times a day for a duration of three months resulted in a significant reduction in serum markers of liver damage and oxidative stress markers.4
Taurine can also prevent the onset of diabetes 2, help to control the blood glucose levels and restore insulin sensitivity5. In addition it can reverse some of the negative consequences of diabetes.6
Taurine is also a great remedy for athletes as it helps to remove lactic acid, increasing muscular contractility and providing an all over better performance.
Studies have shown that high concentrations of taurine are needed in the eye to maintain optimal structure and function, preventing age related vision loss by preventing oxidative damage. And talking about ageing, according to a study7 published in the journal Science, taurine exhibits a decline in concentration as we age. Supplementing with taurine in the diet of monkeys can extend their lifespan and reverse age-related damage in tissues such as muscle, bone, and brain. Taurine may also benefit those dealing with the problem of tinnitus8 and hearing loss.
Taurine as can be seen is extremely versatile. Its intake is however rather low even in meat eaters. Daily consumption is generally between 40 to 400 mg but as can be seen the daily therapeutic dose is between 1500 to 3000 mg. Vegetarians have a very poor intake of taurine which is even worse in vegans.
- Clinical studies9 have demonstrated that a daily intake of 3000 mg of taurine for 7 weeks resulted in significant reductions in body weight, serum triglycerides, and atherogenic index in overweight or obese adults.
- A dose of only 1 500 mg of taurine per day for 14 days has been shown to reverse several complications of diabetes on the vascular system and alleviate diabetic neuropathy, with potential benefits for type 1 diabetes as well.
- To enhance energy levels, a daily dose of 1 500 mg of taurine is recommended, while up to 6 000 mg per day may be beneficial for improving heart health.
- For anxiety, use 500 mg to 1 000 mg of taurine, twice daily.
The effects of taurine supplementation during pregnancy and breastfeeding are not well-established, and it is important to seek advice from a healthcare professional before taking any supplements.
- Kokubo, Y., Saito, I., Iso, H., Yamagishi, K., Yatsuya, H., Ishihara, J., & Inoue, M. (2013). Dietary taurine intake and risk of cardiovascular disease mortality in a general Japanese population: the Hisayama Study. European journal of nutrition, 52(1), 151-157. doi: 10.1007/s00394-012-0304-9.
- Khan MF, Khan MF, Khan AA. A Review of COVID-19 Vaccines: Current Status and a Look to the Future. Curr Pharm Des. 2021;27(27):3591-3601.
- Atkins, J. F. (1985). Taurine in epilepsy: preliminary findings. Amino Acids, 1(4), 409-416. doi: 10.1007/BF02337247
- Hu YH, Lin CL, Huang YW, Liu PE, Hwang DF. Dietary amino acid taurine ameliorates liver injury in chronic hepatitis patients. Amino Acids. 2008 Aug;35(2):469-73.
- Franconi F, Loizzo A, Ghirlanda G, Seghieri G. Taurine supplementation and diabetes mellitus. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2006 Jan;9(1):32-6
- Moloney MA, Casey RG, O’Donnell DH, Fitzgerald P, Thompson C, Bouchier-Hayes DJ. Two weeks taurine supplementation reverses endothelial dysfunction in young male type 1 diabetics. Diab Vasc Dis Res. 2010 Oct;7(4):300-10
- Parminder Singh et al. Taurine deficiency as a driver of aging. Science 380, eabn 9257 (2023).
- Davies E, Donaldson I. Tinnitus, membrane stabilizers and taurine. Practitioner. 1988 Oct 22;232(1456 ( Pt 2)):1139
- Zhang M, Bi LF, Fang JH, et al. Beneficial effects of taurine on serum lipids in overweight or obese non-diabetic subjects. Amino Acids. 2004 Jun;26(3):267-71.