When it comes to both health and performance, taurine is one of the most underappreciated essential nutrients in the body – you might be familiar with it as an ingredient in energy drinks or a bodybuilding supplement, but how much do you really know about its effects?
Taurine is actually the second most abundant amino acid in the body (the first being glutamine), found in high concentrations in the skeletal muscles and the brain, where it aids the transport of potassium, calcium, sodium and magnesium, which nearly qualifies it as a neurotransmitter.
So far it was generally considered a non-essential amino acid since a significant amount of it is being produced in the liver and brain, but a more precise classification of taurine would be a conditionally essential amino acid because it gets depleted under conditions of heavy physical stress. Since the amount of naturally produced taurine in the body is not enough to achieve the optimal level of this nutrient, people should strive to obtain it through their diet (mostly from meat and seafood) and quality supplementation.
Taurine can significantly improve your overall health, which is why a high-taurine diet is believed to be one of the main reasons for the extreme longevity observed in a part of the Japanese population. This is not very surprising since many researches have proven the great influence of taurine on many mental and physical conditions.
A study in 2012 concluded that taurine is one of the most essential substances in the human body and supplementing with taurine can provide significant health benefits like restoring insulin sensitivity, reversing cardiovascular disease factors and preventing the development of fatty liver disease.
Some leading researches suggest that higher taurine levels correlate with improved mental functioning, including mental performance and mood, while others focus on its positive effect on athletic performance. For example, a study published by Japanese researchers in 2003 found that taking taurine supplements before working out for one week resulted in significant increases in VO2 max (which is the maximum capacity of the body to transport and use oxygen) in adult male subjects.
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Less stress and better cognitive performance
Taurine facilitates the production of the neurotransmitter GABA, therefore helping the management of anxiety and stress, preventing cortisol and adrenaline spikes. Research shows that low taurine levels lead to an chronically overexcited nervous system which is linked to high cortisol levels and an increase of body fat – taurine aids the process of metabolizing fat which makes it important for achieving a lean physique. This means that taking taurine can help your lower the level of anxiety and lose weight more successfully at the same time.