Taurine or L-Taurine is an amino acid that
is considered to be the second most abundant in the body's muscle
after glutamine. However, with new research scientists are beginning
to think that taurine is the most abundant in the body's Type
II muscle fibers, even more so than glutamine, which has led
to much speculation for power athletes (45). Dairy products,
meat, poultry, eggs, and fish are excellent natural sources of
taurine. Taurine has been known to increase muscle mass, muscle
strength, power, reduces muscle damage caused by exercise, accelerate
recovery between workouts, and may also have an insulin-like
effect in the body. The processes by which these functions take
place are not yet clearly known. However it appears that taurine
has several critical functions and can act similarly to creatine
in that it expands the body's cells by helping the muscle cell
itself hold more water, thus increasing cell volume. It has been
theorized that all these may be very important to high performance
athletes as it helps in protein synthesis and thus muscle hypertrophy.
Additionally, another theory is that taurine enhances structural
contractile capabilities in the muscle itself and thus may aid
the lifter in handling heavier weights. High muscle concentrations
of taurine also seem to be of the utmost importance in aiding
high performance athletes.
There have been a relatively high amount of studies performed
on taurine. It is of great importance to note that these studies
are of two distinct cases. One is to assess whether taurine supplementation
can significantly manipulate taurine levels in the human body.
This has been due to the negative speculation regarding the ineffectiveness
of being able to change one's natural taurine levels. Secondly,
there had to be a conclusion as to whether or not high levels
of taurine in the human body had an effect one way or the other
on human performance.
In a study performed by Yatabe et al (46) it appears that oral
supplementation of taurine was effective at maintaining proper
levels of taurine in the body compared to other control groups.
Specifically there were two groups: one that used taurine and
a control that received a placebo. After a two week study involving
methods of taurine depletion such as intense and exhaustive exercise
those who used taurine did not have any depletion of the amino
acid in their body. Furthermore, there were also positive signs
that showed potential long term beneficial endurance effects.
Another study on taurine dealing with a slightly different positive
aspect of supplementation was performed by Hamilton et al (46).
This study examined the effects of taurine depleted muscles.
Simply put it was found that normal to slightly higher levels
of taurine increases force production in skeletal muscle but
taurine levels may fall during exercise. Thus a fall in taurine
levels decreased force output. Therefore, one can draw an indirect
conclusion based on this study and the previously mentioned study.
It can be seen that by supplementing with taurine, which has
been known to increase and maintain optimal levels of taurine
in the body, performance and muscular power will be optimized.
This is due to a correlation between optimal performance and
normal/optimal taurine levels.
Another very interesting yet distinct study deals with the duration
of exercise in relation to the degree of taurine depletion in
the human body. Matsuzaki et al (47) examined the changes of
taurine concentrations in blood and skeletal muscles after transient
exercise. There were four groups: a control group, and either
a 30, 60, or 100 minute exercise groups. Taurine measurements
in the body were taken before and after the bout of exercise
to determine rate of depletion. It appears from results that
duration of exercise has no significant impact on levels of depletion,
although a significant and equal level of depletion was experienced
in all groups.
Simply put, taurine concentration was decreased in all skeletal
muscles after exercise, regardless of the duration. Moreover,
this decrease was specific to fast-twitch dominant fibers. This
may be of key importance to various types of athletes due to
a wide range of sports specific activities that must be accomplished
for an athlete to achieve success. Whether an athlete is participating
in a short yet intense workout session or a lengthy moderately
intense activity, taurine depletion will be equal. Thus it appears
that most if not all athletes may benefit from supplementing
Other studies with taurine have shown interesting findings, although
somewhat unrelated to high performance. In a six week study of
taurine supplementation, Kohashi et al (88) noticed that 6 grams
of taurine a day reduced systolic, diastolic, and mean blood
pressure in subjects with hypertension. Of further note is that
Fujita et al (89) noticed these exact findings in a study that
lasted for only a period of seven days.
There have been several studies that have strictly examined the
effects of taurine supplementation on endurance athletes. It
was found that left ventricular contractility was increased thus
lowering heart rates at sub-maximal intensities (90). The authors
note that this may be one of the main reasons that drinks such
as red bull and other derivatives may improve maximal aerobic,
anaerobic, and mental performance (91).
As already stated, with high intensity exercise, blood levels
of taurine immediately increase but deplete rapidly, possibly
due to its release from muscle fibers. Therefore supplementation
minimizes any depletion. Of further note, taurine has been advocated
to enhance attention, cognitive performance, and feelings of
well being (94). One study investigated these effects on mental
cognition by having their subjects supplement with caffeine and
taurine. It was found that these ingredients together had a positive
effect on mental performance and mood. However, since a combination
of substances was used it is unknown how much taurine contributed
to its effect (94).
Summary and Recommendation
Taurine currently has very little research to thoroughly support
its supplementation. However, as seen through several of the
above studies it may appear to be of general aid to most athletes.
Some of the more apparent benefits seen with taurine include:
maintenance of taurine levels during exhaustive exercise (which
is vital for optimal performance), reduction of blood pressure,
enhanced attention and cognitive performance, enhanced feelings
of well being, and improved maximal aerobic, anaerobic, and mental
performance. It also appears that by maintaining proper taurine
levels in the body through supplementation, force production,
strength, and muscular power will be optimized.
Dosage recommendations for taurine seem to be somewhat unclear
at this time. However, most reputable companies suggest 500mg-3,000mg
per day as the standard dosage. However, dosages up to 6,000mg
have been seen in cardiac patients trying to lower blood pressure.
Although timing is not as much of a factor as other supplements,
taking a small dose of taurine before and after training may
be optimal for enhancing performance. Toxicity is currently not
an issue with taurine. However, athletes may not want to exceed
3,000mg as more does not seem to have any added benefit on performance.
Due to the fact that taurine is somewhat new to the supplement
industry consumerlab.com has little to no information regarding
taurine. Therefore, some of the most noted taurine products from
other sources include: NOW Taurine, SciFit L-Taurine, Twinlab
Mega Taurine, Optimum Nutrition CGT 10, Physiologics L-Taurine,
and S.A.N. Fierce Taurine.
45. Bratman, Steven. Taurine. Natural Health Bible. 2000;
46. Yatabe Y, Miyakawa S, Miyazaki T, Matsuzaki Y, Ochiai
N. Effects of taurine administration in rat skeletal muscles
on exercise. J Orthop Sci. 2003; 8(3): 415-9.
47. Hamilton EJ, Berg HM, Easton CJ, Bakker AJ. The effect
of taurine depletion on the contractile properties and fatigue
in fast-twitch skeletal muscle of the mouse. Amino Acids. 2006
Oct; 31(3): 273-8. Epub 2006 Apr 4.
88. Kohashi, N., Katori, R. Decrease of urinary taurine in
essential hypertension. Prog. Clin. Bio. Med. 1983. 125, 73.
89. Fujita, T. Ando, K., Noda, H., Ito, Y., Sato. Y. Effects
of increased adreomedullary activity and taurine in young patients
with borderline hypertension. Circulation. 1987. 75, 525.
90. Baum, M., Weib, M. The influence of a taurine-containing
drink on cardiac parameters before and after exercise measured
by echocardiography. Amino Acids. 2001. 20, 75.
91. Geiss, K.R., Jester, I., Falke. W., Hamm, M., Waag, K.L.
The effect of a taurine-containing drink on performance in ten
endurance athletes. Amino Acids. 1994. 7, 45.
94. Kleiner, S., Taurine. Power Eating. 2007. 179-180.