Can Taurine Help Athletic Performance?
In a nutshell, yes, Taurine can prevent fatigue and protect against muscle damage in endurance athletes.
What is Taurine?
Taurine is a naturally occurring amino acid. While being one of the very few amino acids that are not directly involved in the body’s muscle-building process, it is thought, nevertheless, to help sports and exercise performance. This is likely due to the fact that it has multiple benefits outside of direct muscle-building.
What are Amino Acids?
There are two types of amino acids.
Firstly, there are ‘essential amino acids’ which are the ones that our body can’t make and must be gained from our diet. These can be most commonly found in protein-rich foods: meat, fish and dairy produce. This protein gets broken down and is used to repair the muscle tissue and build new muscle tissue in our body.
Taurine is a different type of amino acid known as a ‘conditionally essential amino acid’ which is made by our body and found in our body’s tissues, most notably in our heart, eyes and muscles. However, the levels of Taurine within our body can become depleted as a result of poor nutrition or illness.
How is Taurine Used by The Body?
Taurine has many very important functions within our body:
- Maintains good hydration and electrolyte balance in our cells. Hydration is key to athletic performance and overall health.
- Regulates minerals within our cells.
- Helps the healthy function of our central nervous system and eyes.
- Regulates our immune system, ensuring it is healthy.
- Supports the function of antioxidants.
- Forms bile salts, which play a vital role in our digestion.
How to Maintain Sufficient Taurine Levels?
A healthy adult’s body will produce the basic amount of Taurine required for the functions listed above. The liver converts other amino acids to produce Taurine. However, the body may need some extra help, particularly during periods of illness and/or stress.
Common Taurine Sources
Taurine can be produced via the liver from other amino acids within your body.
Externally, as with essential amino acids, protein-rich animal foods like meat, eggs and dairy can provide an added, natural source of Taurine.
Taurine is not present in any plant material, which means that though Taurine deficiencies are rare, they are more likely to affect vegetarian and vegan athletes. Synthetic Taurine is considered to be 100% vegan.
Taurine is also often found as an added ingredient in ‘energy drinks’ (like Redbull), but these frequently also have very high levels of sugar and/or caffeine so are not recommended for frequent consumption. Energy drinks are not a reliable source of Taurine and can cause a sudden ‘spike’ in energy, followed by the inevitable ‘crash’ which, over time, can harm the body.
It is far better to take a lower level of Taurine in a balanced supplement that will improve and maintain higher energy levels without such ‘peaks and troughs’.
Taurine can be taken in supplement form. Studies have revealed that people respond well to taking such supplements, including high doses and over a prolonged period. The recommended daily dosage of Taurine ranges between 500 and 3,000mg per day. No adverse side effects were recorded.
Nevertheless, as with any form of supplements to a healthy diet, it is always good practice to consult your GP or a registered dietician before taking them.
When to Take Taurine for Enhanced Athletic Performance
Taurine is most effective at boosting performance when taken anywhere from 1 – 3 hours before an athletic event. It should also be supplemented after a meal.
Noticeable Benefits of Taurine
Taurine possesses antioxidant properties, helping it to protect the body’s organs from oxidative stress. This is when the free radicals and antioxidants are out of balance within the body and cause damage to the body’s tissues which leads to more serious illnesses over time.
It’s also favoured by people engaged in sports and exercise to enhance performance who trust it to:
- Increase the oxygen uptake by the body.
- To, in turn, increase the time taken before fatigue sets in.
- Improve recovery time.
- Improve power and strength.
- Reduce the damage to muscles.
- Could increase fat burning during exercise as a result of fueling the body better for improved performance.
Two separate studies undertaken in 2013, among healthy adults who exercised to a high level, revealed clear benefits. At the University of Stirling, trained runners who took a 1000mg supplement of Taurine ‘significantly improved’ the time it took them to run 3 kilometres.
Meanwhile, a study in Brazil also recorded enhanced performance after taking a regular Taurine supplement as well as a reduction in the amount of muscle damage after strenuous exercise.
Most adults will receive all the Taurine they need via their own bodies and through their diet. Supplements can be a good idea during illness or periods of stress. Taurine supplements can also improve overall health by ‘topping up’ and there is a strong case to suggest that Taurine improves sports performance and protects against muscle damage.
As stated earlier, it is always sensible to consult with a GP before taking a supplement, especially if you are already taking medications.
Another very effective way to take more Taurine on board is intravenously with our Performance Booster IV Drip that combines it with key B vitamins and another important amino acid, carnitine, to help the body convert nutrients into energy.