Taurine is a dispensable sulphur-bearing amino acid that plays a role in brain tissue in nervous system functioning. Its natural food sources include milk, meat, eggs and fish. It is involved in blood pressure regulation and in the transportation of the electrolytes across cell membranes. It is found in the heart, muscles, central nervous system and brain.
Taurine is also found in the eye which may help explain its ability to maintain good vision and eye functioning. Some of its other benefits include bile acid function, detoxification of foreign substances in the body, membrane stabilisation, antioxidant activity, osmoregulation (regulation of fluid levels inside cells), cell proliferation as well as intracellular and extracellular calcium regulation.
It also happens to be the most voluminous amino acid present in striated type 2 muscle fibre. It is similar to creatine because it expands muscle cells to help them hold more water. This increases cell volume. Expanded muscle cells, in turn, increase hydration which results in a higher protein synthesis rate.
In addition, it is widely used in the bodybuilding world because it can increase energy in the muscles, which allows for longer workout durations. As it enhances interstitial contractile leverage, it also allows an individual to lift heavier weights.
It also plays an important role in exercise and bodybuilding in terms of nitric oxide production. The lower the levels of taurine in the body are, the lower the nitric oxide production. Nitric oxide is responsible for widening the blood channels which translate to greater blood flow. This, in turn, leads to greater oxygen and nutrient delivery.
Taurine also may be helpful for people with cystic fibrosis. It is a genetic condition that affects the respiratory system, sweat glands and pancreas. These individuals are less able to absorb fats because of their pancreas tissues, resulting in fatty diarrhoea known as steatorrhoea. Supplementing with taurine improves this condition by as much as 20% and improves fat absorption as well.
This amino acid is generally safe when taken in the correct dosage, which is three to five grams daily. However, those diagnosed with bipolar disorder are advised not to take taurine supplements as there have been reported cases which got worse due to consumption. Moreover, it may also act like a diuretic. Hence, it is not recommended for those who have diarrhoea or suffer from dehydration.
To be on the safe side, consult with your physician before taking any unfamiliar supplement.