When thinking of vitamins and amino acids, there are plenty of people touting about the most popular and well-known vitamins such as vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D, B12, etc. However, there’s one that doesn’t seem to get the recognition it deserves. You may even see this amino acid on the label of many energy drinks or pre-workout and energy supplements. And, when combined with caffeine, it is thought to increase mental performance. Have you taken a guess yet?

If you guessed taurine, you are correct! Taurine is undoubtedly one of the most essential substances in the body. Taurine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the brain, retina, muscle tissue, and organs throughout the body. It is renowned as a cell-protecting agent and is involved in osmoregulation, modulation of mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum stress, cell membrane stabilization, conjugation of bile acids, calcium homeostasis, energy metabolism, neuromodulation, and anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions.

Moreover, there is ever-increasing evidence that taurine depletion leads to a wide range of pathological conditions, including severe cardiomyopathy, type 2 diabetes, renal dysfunction, pancreatic β cell malfunction, and loss of retinal photoreceptors.

Taurine’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties may enhance insulin sensitivity, thereby reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes or improving blood sugar management in those with the condition. One study found that people with diabetes have a 25% lower concentration of taurine than those without diabetes. This suggests that taurine may have a role in diabetes management. The same review also suggests that taurine could have protective effects against diabetes-related complications such as nerve damage, kidney damage, and heart disease.

Taurine has also been shown to regulate blood pressure and improve heart function and blood fat levels in people with heart conditions such as heart failure. At high levels, it may even protect against heart disease. Research suggests a link between higher taurine levels and reduced cholesterol, lower blood pressure levels, and significantly lower rates of death from heart disease. It may also help reduce high blood pressure by decreasing the resistance of blood flow in your blood vessel walls and by improving the efficiency of skeletal and heart muscle contractions.

Taurine has been known to increase muscle mass, muscle strength, power, reduce muscle damage caused by exercise, and accelerate recovery between workouts. Additionally, another theory is that taurine enhances structural contractile capabilities in the muscle itself and thus may aid the lifter in handling heavier weights. High muscle concentrations of taurine also seem to be of the utmost importance in aiding high-performance athletes.

Currently, dosage recommendations for taurine seem to be somewhat unclear. However, most reputable companies suggest 500mg-3,000mg per day as the standard dosage. However, dosages up to 6,000mg have been seen in cardiac patients trying to lower blood pressure. Although timing is not as much of a factor as other supplements, taking a small dose of taurine before and after training may be optimal for enhancing performance. Toxicity is currently not an issue with taurine. However, athletes may not want to exceed 3,000mg as more does not seem to have any added benefit on performance.