You’ve seen it on cans, bottles, and packages – if you’ve eaten or drunk stuff with taurine in it, find out what your body uses it for. If you’ve wondered what it is and haven’t tried it, this article will make you a more informed consumer.
Introduction – learning about taurine
If you’re wondering about a substance called taurine and what it does, then this article will provide the answers. You’ll find out what taurine is and learn about its basic functions in the body. I’ll describe some of the benefits of taurine and point you to some products and ways to incorporate taurine into your diet.
After reading this article, you’ll have a better understanding of taurine and its functions and benefits.
What is taurine?
Taurine is an important amino acid that cirulates in the bloodstream and is not put into the building blocks of proteins like other amino acids. It’s found in several important places in the body, including heart, or cardiac tissue.
You’ll see taurine in multivitamin ingredients and as a component of energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster (see the pictures with this article!).
Benefits of taurine in the body
Taurine supports the development of the nervous system. This includes brain, spinal cord, and nerves. One critical role of taurine is to protect and nourish rods, which are a part of normal eye function, especially in low light environments (you’ve probably heard of rods and cones).
Scientific studies have also demonstrated the anti-inflammatory and immune system supporting effects of taurine. In fact, animal studies show that a lack of dietary taurine leads to abnormal development of the immune system and nervous system.
Energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster Energy contain taurine, along with other substances like caffeine.
Where to get taurine
Dietary supplementation with taurine may improve athletic performance and mental proficiency and function may improve when combined with caffeine consumption.
Other foods that contain taurine include shellfish, meat, seafood, dairy, eggs, and poultry. So vegans and vegetarians may not receive any taurine from food sources. In people with normal kidney function, any excess taurine not used by your body passes through the kidneys and eliminated in the urine.
Since taurine is found in high concentrations in heart cells and infection-fighting white blood cells, we know that it has many important effects and benefits in the body. Now when you see that ingredient listed on the can of energy drink you’re about to guzzle, you’ll know more about the amino acid taurine and some of its benefits and functions.
kelley dryden says
Since it is excreted through the kidneys, is it harmful to kidney functions? Does it effect bun/CR?
Dr. Henley says
This is a good question for a nephrologist/kidney specialist (which I’m not).
One answer is that for healthy kidneys, drinking this in moderation is probably not harmful. Just like drinking alcohol in moderation is generally no problem for a healthy liver.
If you’re worried, you should have your kidney function checked and monitored.