Taurine (L-taurine) is a sulfur-containing amino acid not involved in protein synthesis but omnipresent in our bodies. It’s essential to cardiovascular function and the development and function of the brain, retina, and skeletal muscle. Taurine’s primary function is as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It is often seen in energy drinks due to its hypothesised links to mental performance and its known links to improved exercise capacity.
Taurine as an amino acid is conditionally essential in our bodies. E.g. cats need taurine like a vitamin because their bodies can’t produce it. Taurine deficiency can occur with humans, but since we synthesize taurine we aren’t outright dependent on it - the average person doesn’t need to worry about a taurine deficiency.
IMPACTS ON MUSCLE SORENESS?
One study using 2,000mg taurine paired with 3,200mg BCAAs (to be taken thrice daily for two weeks prior to physical testing and four days after) noted that combination therapy, but neither placebo nor either supplement in isolation, was able to reduce muscle soreness (Ra et al., 2013).
Fat oxidation during submaximal activity has been noted to be increased with an acute dose of 1,660mg taurine supplementation in trained cyclists, although this did not impact performance (Rutherford et al., 2010).
One study examined whether acute taurine supplementation before prolonged cycling would improve time-trial performance and alter whole-body fuel utilization compared with a control and placebo group. The findings were that supplementation significantly improved 3Km time trial results by 1.7% on average whilst not affecting relative oxygen uptake, HR, RPE and blood lactate levels. (Bradshaw et al., 2013).
Given these results, we can see that supplementation of taurine can have positive impacts on performance, however, this may not directly transfer over to powerlifting and maximal effort power based sports.
Dosages between 500mg-2,000mg have shown efficacy, although the upper limit for toxicity is placed at a much greater level and high doses are well-tolerated.
The upper limit for which one can be relatively assured no side effects will occur over a lifetime has been suggested to be 3g a day in supplemental form. Higher doses have been tested and well tolerated, but not enough evidence is available to suggest lifelong safety of said doses
Balshaw, T.G., Bampouras, T.M., Barry, T.J. and Sparks, S.A., 2013. The effect of acute taurine ingestion on 3-km running performance in trained middle-distance runners. Amino acids, 44(2), pp.555-561.
Ra, S.G., Miyazaki, T., Ishikura, K., Nagayama, H., Suzuki, T., Maeda, S., Ito, M., Matsuzaki, Y. and Ohmori, H., 2013. Additional effects of taurine on the benefits of BCAA intake for the delayed-onset muscle soreness and muscle damage induced by high-intensity eccentric exercise. In Taurine 8 (pp. 179-187). Springer, New York, NY.
Rutherford, J.A., Spriet, L.L. and Stellingwerff, T., 2010. The effect of acute taurine ingestion on endurance performance and metabolism in well-trained cyclists. International journal of sport nutrition and exercise metabolism, 20(4), pp.322-329.