Is Taurine Safe?
Taurine, an organic acid found in many energy drinks, is believed to be safe given the current scientific data available. In fact, this compound is sometimes used in medical treatment under the supervision of a physician for diseases as varied as congestive heart failure and epilepsy. While taurine itself is probably not dangerous, the drinks it is blended with can be.
This compound is found naturally in the body in several different locations, and it can be synthesized by the brain. In the body, taurine helps to regulate the levels of salts and water in the blood in addition to being involved in the function of neurotransmitters and in heart function. The compound tends to act as a diuretic in the body, a trait which can become important when it is combined with other drugs, and it can have an excitatory effect.
In studies, people taking up to three grams a day of taurine over the course of a year experienced no ill effects. Researchers also noted that any excess of this substance was simply expressed by the kidneys, making it difficult for this organic acid to bioaccumulate or cause medical problems.
However, in people with liver or kidney disease, it can be difficult to express taurine from the body, which can lead to medical problems. The safety of taurine additives for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers has also not been evaluated, and in keeping with a better safe than sorry attitude. Some evidence has also suggested that it could be dangerous for people with bipolar disorder.
The biggest issue with taurine is not the supplement itself, but the drinks it is packaged in. Energy drinks often act as diuretics, which can make them dangerous to consume before or after exercise, because they can lead to dehydration. Some ill effects have also been observed in people who combine energy drinks and alcohol, because the mix of a stimulant and a depressant can be very dangerous and sometimes even deadly.
As with many other foods, energy drinks are probably most safely consumed in moderation. Before and after exercise, people should stick to drinking water or drinks which will replace electrolytes, preventing dehydration. The consumption of any energy drink blended with alcohol should be avoided, and people may want to consider limiting their daily intake of such drinks to address concerns about overdosing on caffeine or consuming high amounts of refined sugar.
Popular legend suggests that this organic acid is extracted from the semen of bulls. These legends play of the word origins of taurine, as the word comes from the Latin for “bull,” referencing the fact that this organic acid was first discovered in cow bile. Supplements today are made synthetically in labs, and no bull parts or secretions are involved.
Energy drinks with these ingredients are best avoided, as they put unnecessary stress on the kidneys and liver. In recent years, the world's population has seen a big increase in kidneys failure. This is due to many factors, and abusing the bodies with unnecessary stress and chemicals is one.
If you have a balanced diet, and include sufficient red meat, that is high in iron, then your body is strong enough to give you the stamina you need for regular sports training. Rule of thumb: consume natural foods.
Yes. Outside of moderation, anything can be bad for you. The absolute effects of over-consuming taurine are unclear, but should still be avoided.
I do not know how old your son is, but for an adult, consuming over 300 mg of caffeine daily increases your risk for various forms of metabolic syndrome. Many energy drinks have far more than 300 mg, but mask it in the label by putting "energy blend."
If i were you, I would encourage your son to avoid energy drinks altogether. Chances are, energy drinks will become regulated by the government due to over consumption by adolescents and children.
Thanks to all who posted. The information was great. My son has decided to cut back on the energy drinks after I gave him some pros and cons.
@cmsmith10: There are both positive and negative effects of taurine. You have to weigh your options when consuming large amounts of the popular energy drinks. The effects of how taurine reacts with caffeine have been studied recently in test mice. The taurine caused irritability, anxiety, and high sensitivity to noise.
It would be wise to suggest your son cut back if he is consuming large amounts of energy drinks.
@cmsmith: 3,000 milligrams of supplemental taurine per day is safe. The kidneys do a great job of excreting any excess amounts. If your son is drinking a lot of the energy drinks, I would be concerned with the high amounts of caffeine and sugar. Too much caffeine can increase the heart rate and blood pressure.
My son drinks a lot of energy drinks. I have been concerned about the large amounts of taurine because I heard that it was bad for you. Any input?
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