What are the main ingredients in an energy drink? Well, caffeine, sugar, and water make up the most part. Then other ingredients come into play, among them taurine.
But what is taurine in energy drinks? Taurine is an amino sulfonic acid. Besides energy drinks, it is present in large amounts in many body parts, including the heart and brain. Taurine has proven positive health effects including improving heart function, and liver function in people with hepatitis.
In this article, we seek to explore the uses, effects and amounts of this component. We also get into what it is.
What is taurine?
There is a lot of focus on caffeine and sugar if you look at the information available online. People look at the effects of these components, and many articles revolve around them. You probably know how much caffeine you should take and how large doses can affect you. The same goes for sugar.
But there is a lot of mystery surrounding taurine, which is also a significant component in energy drinks. Some people even claim that it comes from bull semen, which is not true. But with this misinformation, you are likely to wonder what exactly you are consuming.
Taurine is an amino acid and thus a building block of proteins. That’s what you will find when you look up this compound. But that’s not all there is to it.
You see, it is an amino sulfonic acid, which gives it more functions in the body than you would think. Instead of building protein, it works for the normal functioning of body activities. For this reason, it is present in large amounts in many body parts, including the heart and brain.
Where do you get it? Your body has amino acids that can make this amino sulfonic acid. That means that when you take an energy drink with taurine, you introduce something that you already have to your body.
You can also get it from other sources such as meat, fish, and eggs. It is also present in breast milk. Note that not everyone can manufacture this amino acid. Thus, some people need some supplements to get the recommended dosage. Others can rely on diet adjustments and other such changes.
A good example would be infants. You see, breast milk has a lot of taurine, but not every child gets to breastfeed. That’s why infant formulas contain taurine. Babies can get the nourishment they need this way. The same goes for adults who feed using tubes.
Some conditions call for the use of taurine. These include congestive heart failure and hepatitis. Other people use it for other things, such as boosting their energy levels and increasing athletic performance.
When used in energy drinks, taurine works to boost energy levels and improve mental performance when combined with caffeine. Manufacturers ride on the benefits of this amino acid to make more sales. And more people are open to the use of this compound in their daily activities.
Proven benefits of taurine in energy drinks
Given the many people relying on energy drinks for taurine, you may wonder if it works as needed. Let us look at the natural processes it supports in the human body before we get into this. It not only supports the growth of nerves, but it also has a calming effect on blood pressure.
That’s why people with high blood pressure may need supplements of this compound. Additionally, it serves other roles in the heart and the brain. Let us get into this more as we look at some myths that may surround this compound.
Congestive Heart Failure
People with this condition require a lot of caution when exercising or undertaking any activities that exert pressure on their hearts.
Using taurine has been shown to improve heart function and thus works in their benefit. Therefore, they can undertake more activities.
Hepatitis and taurine
Liver function in people with hepatitis is low. But with taking taurine, it can improve, as proven by research. Thus, people with this condition can significantly benefit from the use of taurine.
Doubts on effectiveness of taurine in energy drinks
The use of taurine has proven to have positive effects for people with hepatitis or congestive heart failure. But most people taking energy drinks are not doing so in the hope of managing these conditions.
Instead, they use them to improve their alertness and athletic performance, among other benefits. Is there any proof of this working? Let us look at some key examples:
You have probably heard that bodybuilders and athletes often use this amino acid to perform better. Is this true? Well, going by several research studies, there is proof of this. However, you should note that taurine increases endurance by a very small amount.
Also, it is not clear which athletes can benefit from this increased endurance. However, if you are using energy drinks for this, there is always a chance you will notice a change.
Liver cirrhosis and taurine
Taurine could also help reduce liver scarring. You do remember that it plays a vital role in the heart’s functioning. Well, taurine can lower the pressure in the vein supplying blood to the liver.
Some studies state that this can have a positive effect on the liver. However, they are unsure if this can lower the complications.
Taurine and chemotherapy effects
Many people undergoing cancer treatments end up feeling nauseated and vomit a lot after the treatments. It can be frustrating for patients to go through this every day, which can take a toll on their well-being, both physically and psychologically.
Some studies point to the use of taurine to alleviate these symptoms. While it is not clear which patients can benefit, some are sure to feel better.
Why do many people take energy drinks other than for athletic performance? It comes down to staying and feeling awake. People want to live in the moment and need something to take away the fatigue and increase their mental focus.
Taurine, on its own, may not give these results. However, studies show that taurine combined with B vitamins and caffeine can make you more awake.
And that is not all. The results also point to better attention and improved reasoning. That’s why some people work better once they have consumed an energy drink.
There have been claims that this compound also plays a part in memory retention. However, the studies are yet to establish this as of now.
Diabetes and taurine consumption
You will notice a trend if you look at the effects of sugar and caffeine on insulin and blood sugar levels. These ingredients may not be harmful in the short term, but they can hurt you in the long term.
People with diabetes should thus not use them much. Is that the case with taurine? You will be happy to know that taurine does not affect blood sugar and insulin levels. Thus, people with diabetes can consume this without much problem. Note that the studies are preliminary, and you should therefore proceed with caution.
The use of taurine supplements can go a long way in alleviating symptoms associated with this condition. Studies show that these supplements reduce fats in the feces of children with this condition.
However, these results are only possible where the required treatment process is in place. Regarding other symptoms associated with this condition, these supplements do not help much. Research on the same is ongoing.
Taurine to battle tiredness
Truck drivers often consume energy drinks, and with reason –they need to remain awake for hours. If they lose concentration, they put not only their lives but also those of others at risk.
But is there any truth to the alertness caused by taurine? The answer is yes, based on recent research. It turns out that taking taurine before driving can reduce fatigue and thus make you more alert. So, the drivers are onto something here.
High blood pressure
Now, here is something that may catch your eye. People with high blood pressure often have to watch out for any triggers, including foods they eat. Studies show that taurine can reduce blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.
Why would this catch your eye? Well, energy drinks contain high amounts of caffeine. And many studies have tried to link this caffeine amounts to elevated blood pressure. There seems to be a consensus that the use of caffeine in tolerant people will not affect them.
But when used in people with caffeine sensitivity, high blood pressure could ensue. So, one component may elevate your blood pressure while the other tries to lower it. As with anything, you should use energy drinks with a lot of caution.
Digestive tract infections
Having a digestive tract infection can rob you of the joy of enjoying even the smallest things in life. From nausea to the bloating to constipation/ diarrhea, you can undergo some frustration.
The good news is that taurine can help you with this. It turns out that as long as you stick to the given treatment plan, you can also use this amino acid. This approach works in reducing the infection while promoting the healing of ulcers.
Have you ever exercised and could barely lift your limbs the next day? If this sounds like something you have been through, you are not alone. It is common with people who rarely exercise. It owes to the buildup of lactic acid, which contributes to sore muscles in the next few days.
For some people, it can take up to a week to recover from one workout session. You can use taurine to reduce this soreness. Note that you should use this compound in conjunction with BCAAs.
Reducing this soreness enables you to work even harder to reach your fitness goals. You can now see why this compound has fast become popular with people who like hitting the gym. They take one swig of an energy drink, and they can already envision the results- bulging abs and all.
Improved recovery rate after surgery
There have been claims that using taurine increases the recovery rate in people who have undergone surgery. Some people have gone as far as to state that it can prevent deaths in recovering patients.
While all this would be great, it is not the case, as per recent studies. Thus, there is no evidence to back these claims.
There is some good news. While taurine may not help post-surgery, it has positive effects in people with muscle loss and weakness.
That is especially the case when these muscle changes owe to inherited disorders. This compound works in relaxing the muscles and thus improving their performance.
Alertness because of taurine
We have already covered the effect of this compound on mental focus. If you remember, earlier, we stated that using taurine makes you more mentally alert. And it does so in combination with caffeine and B vitamins.
Well, it does more than make you mentally alert. Taurine reduces sleepiness and increases reaction time. Thus, if you do not get enough shut-eye, you can reach for an energy drink with taurine and enjoy a smooth day.
Note that the effects of this compound should not substitute the need for a good night’s sleep. Ensure that you get enough rest.
People experiencing psychosis for the first time may enjoy some relief from the use of taurine. It reduces the hallucinations and delusions associated with this mental condition. This research is in the early stages.
How many energy drinks to consume for taurine effects
With the likely positive outcomes resulting from this compound’s use, you may think of using it in large amounts. But is this advisable?
You can find that an energy drink has up to 1000 mg taurine in a standard can.
With energy drinks, you are not treating any underlying conditions, and a little goes a long way. It is thus best that you stick to the recommended daily energy drink limits and stay on the safe side.
There are precautions to consider. With pregnant and lactating women, the best option is to avoid anything that can harm the baby. On energy drink cans, you will notice that manufacturers state that this group of people should avoid using energy drinks.
It owes to the likely effects on the mother and child. So, this group should use taurine found in foods, and not that in energy drinks or medicine.
As for children, the consumption of energy drinks is unsuitable. These drinks contain a lot of sugar and caffeine that can harm their health. Additionally, the taurine present may be more than they can handle. Children should stick to the amounts present in foods.
While taurine may often get overlooked when reviewing energy drink ingredients, it has a lot to offer. But as much as that may be the case, it is best to exercise caution when taking it to avoid any overconsumption. And where you are in doubt, you should consult a doctor. That said, stay safe!