What is Taurine?
Taurine is an amino acid containing sulphur which supports neurological development, and plays a role in the metabolism of fats. The chemical structure of Taurine is C2H7NO3S.
Where does Taurine come from?
Taurine was originally obtained from ox bile in the mid 19th century by German scientists Friedrich Tiedemann and Leopold Gmelin. The name comes from the latin “taurus” meaning bull, or ox.
Today synthetic taurine is most commonly used which is prepared in the lab through either a reaction between ethylene oxide and sodium bisulfite to form isethionic acid, which is then used to obtain the synthetic form of taurine, or a chemical reaction between aziridine and sulfurous acid to obtain taurine in a single reactive process.
Due to the economical advantages of synthetic taurine, it is almost always used in any supplements or energy drinks that are marketed. Extraction of taurine from foods rich in taurine such as diary products or meat would be prohibitively expensive.
Meat and fish contains naturally occurring taurine, which is believed to me beneficial in helping congestive heart failure by improving the function of the left ventricle, and may also help to lower blood pressure although this is largely unproven right now.
One study into taurine did show that it helped people with heart conditions to be able to walk longer distances, compared to people who were not supplemented with taurine.
The body can naturally produce taurine under normal circumstances, so supplementation is not necessary. A good diet is all you need to ensure that your body has adequate levels of the amino acid cysteine to naturally synthesise the required amount of taurine it needs.
Taurine in Energy Drinks
Taurine is commonly added to energy drinks as it is believed to reduce the amount of anxiety that high levels of caffeine supplementation can cause.
Taurine side effects in energy drinks are actually quite rare, but there are concerns that it may mitigate some of the effects of caffeine that consumers are wanting from their energy drinks.
Scientists are still not sure about the effects of taurine on the brain, and there is speculation that taurine rather than caffeine is responsible for the post-energy drink low that many consumers experience a while after consuming products such as Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar Energy drinks.
The danger of taurine is not clearly understood at this time. More research needs to be done. Right now we know that small doses of synthetic taurine may have some health benefits, but the effect of larger doses over a period of time are not understood.
Energy drinks such as Red Bull contain approx 1g of taurine in an 8oz can. The recommended daily amount is usually less than 3g per day (3000mg). So if you were to consume more than three cans of Red Bull a day, and eat meat and dairy items containing taurine, you would excellent the daily recommended amount.
Side Effects of Taurine
Is taurine bad for you? Not enough studies have been done either way to know for sure. One study did show that it can lower your heart rate, and mixing drinks containing taurine with alcohol could lead to an abnormal heart rate, and dehydration since both taurine and alcohol are diuretics.
Any dose over 3g a day is not tested to be safe, and could lead to side effects such as diarrhea, and increased stomach acid. People with biopolar condition should avoid excess levels of taurine as it may exacerbate the condition.
If you are looking for an energy drink that is taurine-free please check out NEON Energy Drink which has no taurine, and only natural caffeine extracted from green tea, giving you the energy increase you need without the crash.