Taurine- The Hidden Gem

Fitness enthusiasts usually know about taurine as most of the energy drinks available in the market contain taurine as a key ingredient. Some assume taurine for being the cause of side effects related to consumption of energy drinks. But it is not true so don’t get trapped in this kind of information. Want to know more about taurine? Go ahead and read this article.

Boucknooghe, Remacle, Reusens (2006) said that taurine (2-aminoethanesulfonic acid) is conditionally an essential amino acid found ubiquitously in mammalian cells where it is synthesized from sulfur-containing amino acids (methionine and cysteine). It is also contemplated as an organic or sulfonic acid.

Taurine is abundantly present in excitable tissues such as skeletal muscles, heart and brain. Schaffer, Jong, Ramila, & Azuma (2010) mentioned in the study that, taurine is considered as an amino acid but it does not participate in peptide bond formation. However, the taurine amino group participates in many conjugation reactions and in the scavenging of hypochlorous acids. It modulates various physiological processes such as enzyme activity, osmotic pressure, cation homeostasis, receptor regulation, cell development and cell signalling. Taurine also alleviates the anxiety and depression thus, promotes the overall wellbeing

Dietary sources of taurine are eggs, fish, meat, milk and seafood. Taurine in breast milk is crucial for infants as they have a low level due to the lack of an enzyme that converts cystathionine to cysteine. This is why infant formula is supplemented with taurine. In energy supplements, taurine is used as a key ingredient because it plays a preponderant role in human physiological processes.

Brief History of Taurine

 Otieno (2017) suggested that taurine was first discovered by German chemists Leopold Gmelin and Friedrich Tiedemann from Ox’s bile in 1827. It is predominantly found in various animal tissues but chiefly in bile and large intestine. The name taurine originated from a Latin word “Taurus” which means bull or Ox for it was obscured from a castrated adult bull.

 Apart from that, traces of taurine were also found in human cells. Other body areas where taurine is found are the heart (cardiac muscles), skeletal muscles, white blood cells and central nervous system.

 Functions and Benefits of Taurine

 

Taurine is present in several organs and it exhibits various health benefits. Some of the protective properties of taurine are listed below:

  • Improve Muscle Function

Taurine is the pivotal ingredient in energy drinks because it acts as a neuromodulator and neurotransmitter. Its intake through either diet or from supplements is usually recommended by sports experts and nutritionists as it improves an athlete’s performance and helps reach the finish line without muscle fatigue. Kong et al.(2006) shows that taurine supplementation with caffeine may boost the endurance capacity.

Goodman et al. (2009) reported that taurine is largely found in the heart and skeletal muscles, where it plays a key role in improving the blood flow to the muscles. It also strengthens muscle contractility by regulating calcium level in the muscle cells. El Idrissi & Trenkner (2004) study stipulated that high-intensity training can deplete taurine levels which impairs the endurance performance. So, taurine supplementation may improve the physical performance by diminishing muscle fatigue, enhancing muscle function and assist muscle rehabilitation in the cardiac and skeletal muscles.

Other supporting studies also demonstrated that taurine supplementation for short duration is effective in lessening neuromuscular fatigue, blood lactate accumulation and choice reaction time after accomplishing maximal athletic training. Nonetheless, this amino acid also eliminates the lactic acid accumulated in the muscles thus, increases the muscle working time. 

Zhang et al. (2004) revealed that taurine safeguards the muscles from exercise-induced DNA damage, which in turn amplifies the exercise potential because of its cellular protective properties. In short, it bears antioxidant properties which protects muscle from any oxidative damage.

  • Prevents Cardiovascular Disease

Taurine may be beneficial in improving the heart and blood vessel function. Some research connotes that higher level of taurine intake could reduce the death of the person from coronary heart diseases. Besides this, it also lowers the high blood pressure by diminishing the resistance to blood flow in the blood vessel and minimises nerve impulse in the brain which is responsible for causing high blood pressure. Schaffer, Lombardini, Azuma (2000) suggested three mechanisms through which taurine exerts beneficial effects in congestive heart failure.

  1. It stimulates urination to maintain the fluid balance.
  2. Taurine maintains the positive ion balance by regulating [Na+] and Na+/Ca2+ exchanger flux.
  3. Taurine impaired various adverse effects of angiotensin II such as inducing cardiac hypertrophy, volume overload and myocardial remodelling.

Schaffer et al. (2016) study believes that taurine may extend the lifespan of a heart failure patient as it increases the high energy phosphate compound level in the heart, which is the main determinant of mortality among congestive heart failure patients.

  • Fighting Obesity

Otieno (2017) says that taurine aids in combating obesity by reducing the body lipid ratio and enhancing the glucose tolerance which is the main issue in most of the obese people as obesity and type 2 diabetes are interlinked.

  • Treating liver diseases

 Taurine is useful in protecting the liver cells by diminishing the extremity of an oxidative stress-induced liver injury. Heidari et al. (2016) showed that taurine may prove to be a beneficial agent in conserving the liver function and avert the rise in blood-brain ammonia which is considered as a detrimental factor for causing acute and chronic liver injury.

  • Treating tinnitus

Taurine reduces tinnitus by restoring and maintaining the circulation of calcium which is important for the proper functioning of nerve cells. As nerve cells are responsible to convert sound impulse into the electrical impulse for interpretation of information in the brain.

References

  • Bouckenooghe, T., Remacle, C., & Reusens, B.(2006).Is taurine a functional nutrient? Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care 9:728–33
  • Schaffer, S. W., Jong, C. J., Ramila, K. C., & Azuma, J. (2010). Physiological roles of taurine in heart and muscle. Journal of biomedical science, 17 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), S2. doi:10.1186/1423-0127-17-S1-S2
  • Kong, W.X., Chen, S.W., Li, Y.L., Zhang, Y.J., Wang, R., Min, L., & Mi, X. (2006). Effects of taurine on rat behaviours in three anxiety models. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior 83(2): 271-6
  • Goodman, C.A., Horvath, D., Stathis, C., Mori, T., Croft, K., Murphy, R.M., & Hayes,A.(2009).Taurine supplementation increases skeletal muscle force production and protects muscle function during and after high-frequency in vitro stimulation. Journal of Applied Physiology 107(1): 144-54
  • El,Idrissi.A., Trenkner,E.(2004).Taurine as a modulator of excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission. Neurochemical Research 29(1):189-97
  • Zhang, M., Izuma, I., Kagamimori, S., Sokejima, S., Yamagami, T., Liu, Z., & Qi, B.(2004).Role of taurine supplementation to prevent exercise-induced oxidative stress in healthy young men. Amino Acids 26: 203-207
  • Schaffer, S.W., Lombardini, J.B., Azuma, J.(2000).The interaction between the actions of taurine and angiotensin II. Amino Acids 18:305–318
  • Schaffer, S.W., Shimada-Takaura, K., Jong, C.J., Ito, T., & Takahashi, K.(2016). Impaired energy metabolism of the taurine-deficient heart. Amino Acids 48:549–558. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00726-015-2110-2
  • Heidari, R., Jamshidzadeh, A., Niknahad, H., Mardani, E., Ommati, M.M., Azarpira, N., Khodaei, F., Zarei, A., Ayarzadeh, M., Mousavi, S., Abdoli, N., Yeganeh, B.S., Saeedi, A., Najibi, A. (2016). Effect of taurine on chronic and acute liver injury: Focus on blood and brain ammonia. Toxicology Report 3: 870-879
  • Otieno, M.O. (2017).Where Does Taurine Come From?.Retrieved from https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/where-does-taurine-come-from.html

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