Taurine is an amino acid derivative of the sulfur containing amino acid cysteine and is chemically known as 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid. Taurine is conditionally essential, which simply means that it may become depleted under conditions of heavy physical stress (e.g., working out) and activity (e.g., during sports performances). Although taurine exists in most of our cells, it is found in high concentration in bile, in the intestines, and especially in areas of “excitable” tissue (e.g., heart, brain, and skeletal muscle). Its name is derived from the Latin word Taurus (meaning OX), because it was first extracted from OX bile; but today it is made synthetically. Taurine is not directly involved in protein synthesis, but plays many vital roles throughout the body.
Of interest to supplement scientists and athletes, next to glutamine, taurine is the second most abundant amino acid found in skeletal muscle (especially in fast twitch muscle fibers)— This fact has provided motivation for numerous scientific studies, including recent work published in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. In this randomized, double blinded, placebo controlled study, researchers investigated the effects of taurine supplementation on delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) and muscle damage after completing high-intensity eccentric arm curls (a.k.a. negatives) in fit men.
Subjects received either 2 grams of taurine or a placebo supplement three times a day for 2 weeks prior to commencing training and continued to take the supplement for 3 days after training. The scientists reported that, in those who received taurine, the severity of DOMS was approximately 25% less 2-days post-training (the point when DOMS is generally the greatest) and by greater than 30% less over a 4-day recovery period. Interestingly, there were no remarkable differences in markers of muscle damage with taurine supplementation (vs. placebo). The researchers speculated that decreased severity of DOMS with taurine supplementation might be due to decreased build-up of oxidative stress during exercise bouts.
ACTION POINT: In the past, taurine has been shown to increase muscle force output, muscular endurance, recovery, cell volumization, and mental focus/energy. This latest research adds another reason for you to add this amino acid to your regimen.
Taurine’s focus/energy promoting effects are why most energy drinks include it in their formulations. However, doses for the most popular energy drinks are in the range of about 1-2 g per serving—although this is a decent dose, it’s not enough to reap the full benefits of taurine supplementation. We recommend taking 1-3 grams 30 minutes before and immediately after training. On rest days take 1-3 grams prior to breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Reference: Volume 803 of the series Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology pp 765-772, Sept 2015