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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.