Taurine Supplement Reference

I’m a big advocate of science-backed supplements to optimize mental and physical performance. These articles represent my own distilled research on effectiveness, risk, and other things to consider before supplementing. To see what supplements I am currently taking, definitely check out the “My Current Supplements” article at the top of this section. Most of the sources are dervived from Examine.com, which is a great resource, but my intent is to distill it down and add my own research + anecdotes.

Quick Summary

Taurine is an amino acid the body makes on its own, but supplementation is extremely safe and has multiple benefits. Taurine is great at: reducing anxiety, improving sleep, improving cardiac health (cholesterol/hypertension), and being an antioxidant.

What is Taurine?

Taurine is an acid that contains an amino group, which technically makes it an “amino acid”, however biologically speaking is not considered an amino acid per the proper definition. Taurine is created naturally by the body in the liver, but used by almost every cell in the human body. It is considered one of the most abundant amino acids in the body - particularly in the brain and muscle tissue.1 Taurine deficiency is relatively rare and caused primarily by various diseases2, however supplementation does have benefits.

Taurine crosses the blood brain barrier, however there are no known taurine receptors in the brain. Instead, taurine plays a modulatory role in the brain - essentially it helps the brain regulate itself. It relieves oxidative stress in the brain, can be used to help recover from head injuries, and most importantly improves sleep quality. I take taurine at night due to the fact that supplementation over 1g results in sleepiness, which is a great side effect in the evening. This effect is speculated to be related to taurine modulating the sensitivity of GABA-A in the brain, which is the primary anti-excitatory neurotransmitter (translation: provides mild anxiety relief).

Taurine is also a great supplement for weight management and exercise. There have been several studies linking taurine supplementation to better fat regulation (leading to lower body fat overall) as well as increased exercise performance.

Most people recognize taurine from the ingredients list of many popular energy drinks, which include small amounts of taurine to prevent jitteriness caused by the high amounts of stimulants included in those drinks.

Taurine Sources

  • Naturally Occurring: The human body makes almost all of the taurine it needs naturally.
  • Meats: Meats (especially red meat) can contain up to 40-50mg of taurine. This is a pretty small amount, so there isn’t much noticeable benefit to increasing meat consumption.
  • Energy Drinks: Monster / Red Bull contain trace amounts of taurine to balance out the stimulant effects.
  • Supplementation: Supplements are sold typically as 1g capsules.

Benefits of Supplementing Taurine

  • Helps Regulate Blood Glucose/Sugar: There have been several animal studies that have shown that taurine helps regulate blood glucose levels.3 There is one human study that shows this evidence holds up - but the study was restricted to endurance athletes.4 The mechanism by which taurine regulates blood glucose is not understood entirely.
  • Reduces Anxiety: One human study shows that taurine decreases anxiety without impacting memory or muscle function.5 There are dozens of animal studies showing that glycine and GABA-A regulation may be the cause of this mechanism, but has largely confirmed that taurine does have very safe anti-anxiety effects on mammals in general.56 The GABA regulating properties of taurine supplementation have also been shown to reduce seizure frequency.7
  • Improved Cardiovascular Health: Several studies have shown that taurine supplementation can increase blood flow and reduce oxidative stress on the cardiovascular system.8 There are also studies showing that taurine supplementation can lead to decreased blood cholesterol and lipid counts, although the underlying mechanism is unknown.9
  • Improved Fat Loss and Potential Increased Exercise Performance: There are several studies showing taurine supplementation increases fat oxidation by 16% during exercise in athletes.10 The research is mixed on whether taurine supplementation increases exercise performance, with some studies finding no difference, while others finding mild improvements in aerobic endurance. One study did find that taurine supplementation did decrease muscle soreness and helped with muscle recovery.11
  • May Help Protect Hearing and Eyesight: All of these studies are based on mice, so the evidence is not quite as strong for this claim. Taurine supplementation may help protect or reverse against hearing loss (tinnitus specifically).12 It also can prevent degradation of eyesight over time.13

Downsides and Safety to Taurine Supplementation

There are no known downsides to taurine supplementation within the known safe dosages.

The maximum long-term safe dose of taurine that has been studied is 3,000mg per day.14 This dosage may be lower in people with kidney problems who cannot filter out excess of the compound.

Dosages and Timing For Taurine

Most studies on humans evaluate the effectiveness of taurine at dosages between 1,000mg and 2,000mg. I would stick between those two numbers, with 2,000mg per day before bed being the most recommended dosing schedule.

Taurine is best taken at night before bed because it is slightly sedative. As a result of taurine regulating brain GABA and glycine levels, it can improve sleep considerably when taken before bed.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Taurine should be a part of any “night time” supplement stack. Overall there are little to no downsides to supplementation, due to the fact that it has been extensively studied in animals and humans. The positives are enormous, even if the animal studies don’t translate 1:1 with humans.

Taurine can be cheap depending on the brand. Nutricost brand can provide 2,000mg of taurine a day at $0.04, however Life Extension provides the same 2,000mg dose at $0.34 a day.

Research / Sources