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What is Taurine and What are its Benefits?

Taurine is a semi-essential amino acid that's not as well known as some other aminos like glutamine; however, taurine plays an important role and is found in the heart muscle, white blood cells, central nervous system, and skeletal muscle. It plays an important role in metabolism, and is essential for new borns, since they cannot make it. Adults bodies can make taurine, however, when not enough is made, the deficiency can be corrected by supplementation.

Taurine is high in eggs, dairy products, meats and fish proteins. If you're a vegetarian, you maybe deficient in taurine, and if you're a meat eater, you're probably getting enough.

It was first discovered in ox bile in 1827, and it wasn't until 1975 that taurine was identified as a important part of human nutrition when it was discovered that formula fed infants were not able to sustain normal urinary taurine levels compared to breast-milk fed infants.

Taurine is a building block of all other amino acids. It functions in the brain and heart to help stabilize cell membranes. It comprises of over 50% of the total free amino acid pool of the heart. Many studies have shown Taurine to be essential in mammalian development, and low levels of it are associated with developmental problems such as growth retardation, and retinal degeneration.

L-Taurine has also been used to treat conditions such as seizure disorders, cardiovascular diseases, epilipsy, alcoholism, cystic fibrosis, and alzheimers.

Taurine Benefits

Taurine has many benefits, some of these include:

  • It is a component of bile, which is needed for digestion of fats and control of serum cholesterol levels.
  • Some studies have found it to lower blood pressure
  • Taurine helps control the movement of potassium, magnesium and sodium, helping to maintain the cell membranes
  • It is a antioxidant and helps reinforce the immune system
  • It helps to strengthen the heart muscle, stabilize heart rhythm, and also prevents blood clots.
  • Taurine helps to guard against diabetes
  • Dosage of 2grams 3 times daily have helped people with congestive heart failure to improve cardiac and respiratory function

Some Taurine Studies

Study 1: A double blind, placebo controlled crossover study involving 14 participants found that taurine is effective to treat heart failure with no adverse effects. Participants received 6g each day for four weeks. Each person was assigned a heart failure score based on signs of right heart failure, pulmonary sounds, and chest abnormalities. At the end of the study, the heart failure scores feel from 5.8 to 3.7 for the taurine group, and the score did not change for the placebo group.

Study 2: In a study done on 16 week old rats separated into 2 groups of taurine and placebo group, oral glucose tolerance test was performed at ages of 23 and 25 weeks. This study found insulin resistance and abdominal fat accumulation were significantly lower in the taurine supplemented group. Concentrations of cholesterol were also significantly lower in the taurine supplemented group. This led to the conclusion that taurine effectively improves metabolism in the rats by decreasing serum cholesterol due to decreased production of cholesterol from the increased nitric oxide production.

*Yutaka Nakaya, Asako Minami, Nagakatsu Harada, Sadaichi Sakamoto, Yasuharu Niwa and Masaharu Ohnaka
*From the Department of Nutrition, Tokushima University, School of Medicine, Tokushima, Japan.

Study 3: In a study done by the medical college of Georgia, the effects of taurine depletion on vascularity was studied in rats. The researchers found that taurine depletion increases contractility but decreases the relaxation of vascular smooth muscle. Their finding also noted that depletion of taurine leads to impaired endothelium (a thin layer of flat cells that lines blood vessels) dependent responses which is associated with reduced nitric oxide production contributing to decrease in vasorelaxant responses.

In understandable english, it simply means that depletion of taurine leads to reduced nitric oxide production leading to more tension in the walls of the blood vessels, or "decrease in vasorelaxant responses".

*Abebe W, Mozaffari MS.
*Department of Oral Biology and Maxillofacial Pathology, CB 3710, School of Dentistry, Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, GA 30912-1128, USA.

Significance of L-Taurine for Bodybuilding

From the above studies 2 and 3, its clear that taurine plays an important role in nitric oxide production, where lowered taurine levels leads to the reduction of nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide is a gas that's present for a instant each time a muscle contracts and blood vessel dilates. This is important in that this widens the blood channels leading to greater blood flow, which results in greater oxygen and nutrient delivery.

As you can see, as bodybuilders, we need the increase in blood flow for oxygen and nutrient delivery, and without adequate nitric oxide, this isn't possible, and when deficient in L Taurine, there is less nitric oxide production.

Needless to say, taurine makes a good supplement to take to combat deficiencies, and as well, just to maintain or increase nitric oxide production. At the same time, this makes taurine good to stack with NO2 supplements to increase hemodilation and improve that perpetual pump caused by NO2. This is the very reason why you find Taurine in creatine/no2 stacked supplements like San's V12, or other creatine delivery systems like celltech or phosphagen.

While there is no established RDA of taurine, about 3 to 5grams a day should be sufficient.