Taurine is an amino acid can occurs naturally in the human body, such as the brain, heart, and skeletal muscles. Although its unclear what it does, it is believed to help with metabolism and maintaining muscle strength, which improves mental and athletic performance.
Do energy drinks that contain taurine really work?
Multiple energy drinks that contain taurine have emerged over the years, leading scientists to conduct multiple studies about their effect on exercise.
Studies have tested the effect of Red Bull on physically active adults. A 250 mL can of Red Bull contains the following ingredients:
- Taurine: 1 gram
- Caffeine: 80 milligrams
- Glucuronolactone (a glucose metabolite): 600 milligrams
- B vitamins
- Sugar (may or may not contain)
Results regarding the improvement in exercise capacity are mixed. Some studies have reported modest improvement, whereas others have found no effect on exercise capacity.
A study on 24 healthy volunteers reported improved driving performance and driver sleepiness after having Red Bull. Some experts suggest that caffeine (and not taurine) is the ingredient most likely responsible for the effect of Red Bull.
Other studies showed that taurine when combined with other amino acids may alleviate muscle soreness and muscle damage after performing high-intensity exercises.
Do energy drinks that contain taurine have any side effects?
Not much is known about the side effects of long-term use of energy drinks that contain taurine, as well as how much is safe to consume.
Apart from taurine, energy drinks often contain one or more of the following ingredients—herbal stimulants, caffeine, or sugar. Frequent consumption of drinks that contain caffeine and sugar intake can cause:
- Increase in heart rate and blood pressure
- Disturbed sleep
- Weight gain
- Increase in blood cholesterol levels.
- Higher than normal blood sugars
There are reports of patients having adverse effects from drinking taurine-containing energy drinks. A study conducted on 50 healthy volunteers reported an increased risk of blood clotting one hour after the consumption of 250 mL of an unspecified energy drink containing caffeine, taurine, glucuronolactone and B vitamins.
Another study reported that Red Bull increases blood pressure compared with products that contain only caffeine. This indicates that some other ingredient and not caffeine in this energy drink is responsible for the changes in blood pressure.
Taurine has been shown to be safe for consumtion up to one year in patients with heart failure, but it’s still unclear how safe it is to drink energy drinks that contain taurine. Therefore, it is recommended to use discretion when consume energy drinks.
Taurine is an ingredient in many energy drinks. Is taurine safe? https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/taurine/faq-20058177
Wen C, Li F, Zhang L, et al. Taurine is involved in energy metabolism in muscles, adipose tissue, and the liver. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2019 Jan;63(2):e1800536.
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