The Powerhouse Amino Acid: Exploring the Benefits of Taurine

taurine energy drinks longevity animals

Taurine is an amino sulfonic acid that plays a crucial role in numerous physiological processes within the human body. While often associated with energy drinks, taurine is a naturally occurring compound found in various foods and is synthesised in the body.

What is Taurine?

Taurine, chemically known as 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid, is a sulfur-containing amino acid. Unlike most amino acids, it does not contribute to protein synthesis but functions as a free amino acid within the body. Taurine is abundantly present in various tissues, including the brain, heart, eyes, and muscles, where it performs vital roles.

energy drinks red bull taurine
Taurine: most commonly known as an ingredient in energy drinks

Health Benefits

  • Cardiovascular health: Taurine has been associated with several cardiovascular benefits. It helps regulate blood pressure by improving endothelial function and reducing oxidative stress. Additionally, it supports healthy cholesterol levels, reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, and may have a protective effect against heart disease.
  • Neurological function: It plays a critical role in maintaining neurological health. It acts as a neurotransmitter, facilitating communication between brain cells, and has been linked to improved cognitive function, memory, and overall brain health. It may also have a neuroprotective effect, helping to reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disorders.
  • Eye health: It’s highly concentrated in the retina, where it supports various functions necessary for optimal vision. It acts as an antioxidant, protecting the eyes against oxidative stress and reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and other eye conditions.
  • Exercise performance and muscle recovery: It helps regulate calcium levels within muscle cells, leading to improved muscle contraction and reduced muscle fatigue. Supplementation (typically 500 to 2000 mg /day) has been shown to enhance exercise capacity, increase endurance, and support post-exercise muscle recovery.
  • Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties: It exhibits antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties throughout the body and helps neutralize harmful free radicals, reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. By doing so, it may contribute to the prevention of chronic diseases, including diabetes, obesity, and certain types of cancer.
eye health
Taurine is highly concentrated in the retina (nerve tissue at the back of the eye)

Dietary Sources

It can be obtained through dietary sources, particularly animal-based foods. Some notable sources of Taurine include:

  • Mussels (655 mg per 100g)
  • Clams (510 mg per 100g)
  • Oysters (397 mg per 100g)
  • Turkey (300 mg per 100g in dark meat, only 30 mg in light meat)
  • Organic Chicken (170 mg per 100g, richer in thigh meat than breast)
  • Lamb (110 mg per 100g)
  • Chicken Liver (110 mg per 100g)
  • Beef (77 mg per 100g)
  • Seaweed

Several other sources report that Taurine is in egg yolks, but several studies [1,2] found that not to be the case.

chicken thigh
Thigh meat contains more Taurine than breast


While Taurine is mainly found in animal-based foods, the likelihood of humans developing a deficiency is very low. That’s because we are capable of producing it ourselves in the liver. However, there’s a difference between having adequate levels and optimal levels. The latter may contribute to increased muscular endurance and recovery, eye health and neurological function. It has also recently been linked to longevity in animals, though this may not be true in humans [3]. Given that animals like cats are far more susceptible to taurine deficiency, it’s best not to rush out and buy supplements just yet.

[1] Taurine content in foods. Pasantes, Garcia and Olea (1989)

[2] Taurine content in Chinese food and daily intake of Chinese men. Zhao, Jia, Lin (1999)

[3] Taurine deficiency as a driver of aging. Singh et al. (2023)

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