Taurine is an amino acid (more precisely, aminosulphonic, with a different function than the amino acids that make up proteins). It plays a role in the actions of bile acids. It is an essential amino acid for newborn babies, as evidenced by its presence in breast milk. The adult body is able to produce taurine from two other amino acids (cysteine and methionine), so it is not often deficient, but it can have a number og beneficial effects on our bodies.
Most people know it as an ingredient in energy drinks and many associate it with effects similar to caffeine. However, the two substances have different properties. Caffeine acts on the adrenaline receptors to increase blood pressure (stimulation), while taurine stimulates the use of calcium and insulin in muscle fibres in a similar way to sugar. Studies have shown that taurine increases muscle strenght and performance.
Calcium, as a mineral, is essential for muscle function, it has a positive charge in our bodies and without calcium, no electrical current can run through the motor nerve. Taurine stimulates the delivery and use of calcium to muscle cells, providing sufficient amounts for proper brain-muscle connectivity.
In addition, calcium is not only used to maintain the connection between nerve cell and muscle cell, but also between nerve cell and nerve cell, which partly explains the memory and attention enhancing effects of taurine.
It also acts as a stimulator of the GABA receptor. GABA is an inhibitory hormone that blocks certain signals and neurons from functioning. It acts as a kind of sedative hormone. In this way, taurine can help you sleep and cope with stress . in contrast, caffeine keeps you awake because of its effects on adrenaline and blood pressure.
The physical performance-enhancing and seadtive effects of taurine can be a bit contradictory, so the question may arise: aren't the two mutually exclusive? However, it is important to remember that there are many sub-forms of the GABA receptor, each acting in different ways and to different degrees and expressed in different places (some in the brain, some in the muscle). Taurine acts on receptors that calm but do not impair physical performance.
During depression and lethargy, the balance between the different GABA receptors is upset, and taurine can help by balancing their function, which can improve mood in people suffering from depression.
In addition, taurine has strong antioxidant effects. This means it fights harmful free radicals. Nowadays, we are exposed to more and more toxins, more and more free radicals are being released in our body, which will damage our cells. Confirming this, a study has reported the antioxidant properties of taurine in protecting the nervous system and cardiovascular system.
Taurin is found in fish and meat. People who eat animal foods consume average 58 mg of taurine per day (between 40 and 400 mg).
Research has shown taurine to be safe to use, with daily intakes of 500-2000 mg used. A daily limit of 3 grams has been established for the long term, and if you stick to this, you are very unlikely to experience any side effects.