Guide to Emotional Health and Cognitive Function
Taurine is a supplement that is mainly used to treat panic disorders or anxiety attacks. However it is also used as a weight loss aid. It supports the function of white blood cells, the heart, the skeletal system and the brain. It is available in pill form.
In recent years, taurine has become a common ingredient in energy drinks. Taurine is not an "upper" and has no known stimulatory effect on the body. It is unclear why taurine is added to energy drinks but the inhibitory effect on neurotransmission might reduce the jittery effect of high amounts of caffeine that are found in this drink. Taurine has also been known to improve mental focus in some individuals but no conclusive studies have been done on Taurine.
Technically, Taurine or 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid as it is scientifically known is an organic acid that is abundant in the tissues of many animals. Taurine is also found in smaller amounts in the tissues plants, fungi, and some bacterial species. Taurine is a derivative of the sulphur-containing (sulfhydryl) amino acid, cysteine.
Taurine is named after the Latin word for bull, which is Taurus. This is because the semi-amino acid was first isolated from bull bile in 1827. It is often called an amino acid, even in scientific literature, but it lacks a carboxyl group and therefore does not qualify scientifically to be called an amino acid
Sources of the Supplement
A modern urban legend says that Taurine is made from bull semen. In fact, Taurine is synthesized in a laboratory through a combination of cysteine, methionine and vitamin E.
The cheapest and most abundant sources of Taurine are found in energy drinks. It is found in Red Bull, Sparks, Spykes, SoBe Power Fruit Rush, SoBe Adrenaline Rush, Monster, Extra Joss and Coca Cola’s energy drink - Rockstar. Rockstar, depending on the flavor can contain as much as 2000 mg of Taurine. A Korean vitamin supplement drink called "MegaVita 1666" contains 2380mg of Taurine in an 8.05 oz. A more reasonable dosage of 25 mg is found in Power C Vitamin Water and in Glaceau Vitamin Water.
Natural sources of taurine are eggs, meats, dairy products and fish proteins.
Taurine’s main role is to stabilize the membranes of the blood cells in the heart and the brain. It also has many other benefits including:
Just two grams of Taurine daily are thought to drastically improve cardiac and respiratory functions.
Two studies conducted at the Department of Nutrition at
Taurine supplementation may also be of some value to body builders. At times of extreme physical exertion, the body no longer produces the required amounts of taurine, which results in a relative deficiency. Taurine acts as a metabolic transmitter and is also known to have a detoxifying effect on the body.
Taurine increases levels of nitric oxide in the blood, which allow us to exercise harder as nitric oxide helps to deliver oxygen to the muscles in a more expedient manner. This can help build muscle in a shorter period of time as well as provide the person exercising with more fuel so that they can exercise for a longer period.
However there is a hitch to all of this. While the body manufactures taurine, intense exercise may deplete it, according to a Belgian study of marathon runners printed in a 2001 issue of Amino Acids.
Taurine’s reputation as an anti-anxiety agent and anti-depressant has been known since 1980 when a study on monkeys was published in The Journal of Nutrition. This study also suggested that supplementation with Taurine might also be useful for individuals suffering from bi polar disorder.
According to a study published in Lancet magazine in 1977, taurine has been shown to be useful in treating people with alcohol dependency. In people undergoing alcohol withdrawal, taurine given at 1 gram 3 times per day for seven days resulted in significantly fewer psychotic episodes when compared to people who were taking a placebo.
In addition to enhancing physical performance, taurine may also aid mental performance and mood. This is particularly when taurine is consumed in an energy drink. A study on graduate students that was reported in a 2000 issue of Amino Acids found that Red Bull helped maintain concentration, vitality and the ability to retain information through long hours of studying.