If you train regularly, you know how fatigue can impact your workout. Feeling low in energy or tired one day can throw off your routine, holding you back from hitting your targets and potentially slowing your progress. Taurine is a supplement some athletes take to improve their energy during training, but how does it work?
The Facts on Taurine
According to the Mayo Clinic, taurine is an amino acid that naturally occurs in animal flesh (meat and fish) as well as in breast milk. In the human body, taurine is found primarily in the heart and the brain, which is explains how it's used (more on that later). What makes taurine different from other amino acids is how it functions within the body. Instead of joining together with other amino acids to build muscle tissue, taurine functions as an antioxidant, protecting the cells of the body against the damage of free radicals.
Taurine for Training
Taurine is often prescribed for the treatment of heart conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and congestive heart failure. When it comes to athletics, taurine is credited with improving the body's VO2max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen the body is able to transport and utilize, prolonging endurance time. This means more stamina before exhaustion sets in during physical activity. Two animal studies, both published in 2009 in the International Journal of Sports Medicine and Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology found taurine improved endurance and reduced muscle fatigue. A 2013 human study published in Amino Acids involving middle-distance runners also showed taking 1,000 mg of taurine improved endurance, although more research will need to be conducted to determine exactly how taurine was involved.
Because of its presence in the brain, taurine may also help improve cognitive function, specifically concentration and mood to help you stay focused and positive. A 2000 study published in the medical journal Amino Acids found the combination of ingredients in the popular energy drink Red Bull (which includes taurine), boosted cognitive performance, but more research will need to be done to determine how much of that can be attributed to taurine.
Using Taurine Supplements Properly
Since taurine is a conditional amino acid, meaning it's produced by the body on its own (although it decreases with age), consuming taurine in supplement form is generally considered safe in doses up to 3,000 mg. However, more research needs to be done to determine the effects of long-term usage on the body. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn't take taurine and neither should those being treated for bipolar disorder. Taurine may also interact with lithium.
For more information on the most popular supplements for training, be sure to check back soon!