What is Taurine? Benefits, doses and side effects

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Carlos Laforet Coll

Taurine is a type of amino acid found in many foods and energy drinks. But what is it for? Is it safe?

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Taurine is a type of amino acid found in many foods and the main ingredient in energy drinks. What is it? Is it safe? Does it have only contraindications or even benefits?

La taurine is a derivative of cysteine ​​and is a "conditionally essential" amino acid, which, that is, must be taken through the diet in certain periods of life or due to certain diseases. In fact, taurine cannot be defined as an amino acid in the strict sense because it does not have the carboxylic group but the sulphonic group. But what specifically is taurine? And what is it for? It has details side effects?

Extracted for the first time at the beginning of the 800th century by two German scientists who isolated it from bile of a bull, "Taurine" is the common name with which the2-aminoethanesulfonic acid.



What is Taurine

From a biological point of view, taurine differs from the twenty alpha amino acids that form proteins due to the presence of acid sulfonico instead of the carboxyl group.

Generally added to many supplements and energy drinks, taurine plays a key role in synthesis of bile acids which, produced in the liver and incorporated in the bile, derive from cholesterol and facilitate its elimination. Basically, bile acids are detergent substances (which means that they are able to disperse the water-insoluble lipids in aqueous solution) that are produced with the demolition of cholesterol molecules by the liver. Along with zinc, taurine is also important for eye health.

What is taurine used for

The main task of taurine is therefore that of intervene in the formation of bile. In this case, it is a reaction that involves the conjugation of taurine with cholic and chenodeoxycholic bile acids to create the corresponding bile salts and thus facilitate the digestion and absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins.

Other properties of taurine are:

  • relieves the sense of fatigue
  • speeds up metabolism and thus helps burn fat
  • it acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter, so it can have benefits against epilepsy, depression, insomnia
  • increases muscle strength
  • improves the functionality of the cardiovascular system
  • reduces bad cholesterol and triglycerides
  • prevents cellular aging, thanks to its anti-free radical action
  • strengthens the immune system
  • keeps retina and eyes healthy
  • prevents hair loss
  • it is important for the synthesis of nitric oxide, a potent vasodilating agent


Other possible applications of taurine in the medical field are:

  • male infertility (due to poor sperm motility)
  • diabetes
  • macular degeneration
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • liver disorders
  • alcoholism
  • cystic fibrosis

Where is taurine found

In our organism, it is found in the nerve tissue, In the White blood cells, in heart And in the skeletal muscles. In adults, taurine it is formed in the liver starting from the amino acids cysteine ​​and methionine in the presence of sufficient quantities of vitamin B6. In infants, it is taken only with breast milk.

Taurine is one of those amino acids that are synthesized by our body and which do not need to be taken with the diet. Against, to cover the daily requirement, it should be supplemented with the taurine present in food or supplements.

Taurine in foods of animal origin

Taurine is found mostly in:

  • eggs
  • meat
  • fish
  • XNUMX cups milk

Taurine in foods of plant origin

Vegetables are almost completely free of taurine. Do exception i prickly pears.

in vegetable however, we can find cysteine ​​and methionine, amino acids - as we have seen - precursors.


Doses and administration of taurine

Never take dietary supplements without your doctor's advice.

A regular lifestyle and a varied and balanced diet, in general, already ensure everything our body needs. There may, however, be cases where one might be useful integration to promote some metabolic functions.

La taurine, for example, is among the molecules chosen by those who do sports, especially competitive, associated with minerals and vitamins.

Il standard taurine dosage ranges from 2 to 8 grams per day, to be taken in a single solution or divided into three administrations. The intake is always orally and must be accompanied by lots of water. However, always seek the advice of your doctor.


In general, supplements are divided into:

  • pure, mainly marketed in powder form, which are usually prescribed to people with particular deficiencies
  • mixed, most popular on the market, which are found in the form of tablets, powder, sachets and generally also contain carbohydrates, other amino acids, vitamins and minerals, but also - in some - guarana and caffeine (as well as many energizing drinks).

The side effects of taurine

Little is known about any contraindications to taking taurine.

However, the most commonly encountered side effects are:

  • hypertension
  • Diarrhea
  • peptic ulcer
  • skin reactions, such as aggravation of psoriasis

The case of energy drinks

Energy drinks contain approximately 400 mg of taurine per can. But it doesn't stop there: a similar drink contains a set of stimulating substances, such as caffeine and creatine and very high quantities of sugar.

From an infographic released some time ago, it is clear how energy drinks lead to:

  • an almost immediate increase in heart rate
  • increased blood pressure
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • headache

Not only that, but you would also risk a certain type of addiction: with the passage of time, in fact, it would become necessary to ingest ever greater quantities of this type of drink and thus a sort of addiction is created.

What if we really feel the need for an extra pinch of energy? You could try making energy drinks based on fruit and vegetables at home, absolutely free of side effects.

READ also:

  • Creatine: properties, side effects and things to know before taking it
  • Carnitine: benefits, contraindications and when it is recommended to take it
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