Taurine is often referred to as a ‘conditionally essential' nutrient since the body is able to synthesize it from the amino acids methionine and cysteine. In order for this process to be executed there also has to be a sufficient amount of vitamin B6 present. The fact that Taurine is often overlooked when it comes to putting together a supplement plan makes it even more worthy of our attention. In fact, supplementing with Taurine can have a valuable impact on not only your training, but also your overall health.
TAURINE - AN OVERVIEW
Taurine is the most prevalent of all the amino acids in the tissues of the skeletal muscles, the cardiac muscles and the brain. In fact it is critical when it comes to maintaining the proper function of the brain, heart, lungs and blood. It is also essential to the functioning of the liver, pancreas and gall bladder.
Although the body is able to manufacture its own Taurine, it does prefer to obtain it directly from food sources. Good food sources of Taurine are:
Now at this point you may be thinking, "Great! I eat all of those foods so I don't need to bother with Taurine supplements." However, this may not be the case due to the fact that the absorption of Taurine from food sources is highly dependant on intestinal health and, as we age, our intestinal capacity to absorb Taurine decreases. This is why supplementation is worthy of your consideration since you cannot rely completely on food as a resource.
Okay, so now you know the basics, you may still be asking why Taurine supplementation is important for you to consider. So let's take a closer look at some of the key functions of this complex nutrient as they apply to you both in and out of the gym.
TAURINE AND EXERCISE
Exercise causes a significant reduction of Taurine levels in skeletal muscle. You are probably familiar with the array of popular energy drinks that have Taurine listed as a key ingredient. The fact that most of these drinks contain significant amounts of caffeine may have led you to believe that it was in fact the caffeine that was doing all the work when it came to producing the energy/endurance effect observed in these products. However, a significant portion of the effect these drinks have on your stamina levels is directly attributable to the Taurine they contain. In fact Taurine has been found to be superior to even creatine when it comes to combating exercise induced weakness and fatigue.
In addition to this, Taurine aids athletic performance due to the fact that, as an insulin mimetic, it allows for greater glucose deposition in muscle tissues - which once again contributes to strength and stamina.
TAURINE FOR STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE
Taurine plays a very important role when it comes to preventing muscle fatigue and increasing strength. During exercise Taurine levels in muscle fibers show a significant decline and this is accompanied by a simultaneous reduction in strength. When Taurine is taken in supplement form prior to exercise much of this decrease in strength can be avoided and it is not unusual to experience an actual increase in strength. Endurance levels can also be increased due to Taurine's ability to reduce lactic acid levels. An increase in muscle cell volume is another by product of Taurine use since it appears to draw water into the cells in a similar way to creatine.
TAURINE AS A DIURETIC
Inside the cell, Taurine maintains the potassium/magnesium balance whilst keeping excessive sodium out. In this regard its action could be likened to that of a diuretic but without all of the drawbacks of prescriptive medications. Taurine actually improves kidney function and is useful in fighting tissue swelling and fluid accumulation. Due to its effect on removing excess fluid, Taurine can also help lower blood pressure where the cause is related to fluid retention.
As a side note to the issue of blood pressure, Taurine dampens the sympathetic nervous system thereby relieving arterial spasm. When blood vessels relax, blood pressure falls.
TAURINE AND NUTRIENT ABSORPTION
You have often heard it said that it is not what you eat but what you absorb that counts and the nutrients that you absorb from your diet can be subject to many limiting factors. For example, inflammatory bowel disease (characterized by diarrhea, abdominal cramps, low grade fever, fatigue and weight loss) can lead to malabsorption of nutrients. This can also lead to joint pain and skin lesions. Even the use of pain relievers such as ibuprofen can cause gastric ulceration. Taurine exerts a protective effect on the gastrointestinal tract due to its antioxidant properties.
So if nutrient absorption is a concern of yours (and as a bodybuilder it should be!) then adding Taurine in conjunction with a good probiotic and fiber supplement (such as FIBROLYZE from www.speciesnutrition.com) is a very smart move.
TAURINE AND CHOLESTEROL
Cholesterol is found in the blood in two forms: low density lipoproteins (LDL) and high-density lipoproteins (HDL). Elevated levels of LDL can lead to a wide range of heart and vascular diseases, including heart attack and clogging of the arteries. On the other hand, HDLs serve to protect the heart and vascular system. When Taurine supplementation is implemented a significant reduction in cholesterol levels has been observed. In terms of HDL levels, Taurine appears to enhance serum HDL concentration which is good news when it comes to the health of your heart.
In addition to this, Taurine also assists the gallbladder in functioning at top level. It does this by forming a substance known as tauracholate from bile acids. Tauracholate in turn helps increase cholesterol elimination in the bile.
TAURINE AND AGING
The whole process of aging leads to a decline in the Taurine content of tissues including the liver, kidney, cerebellum, eye, spleen, blood and skeletal muscle. When supplementation is provided there is an increase in the Taurine content of those tissues to levels exceeding those found in healthy adults. As we age, our levels of IGF-1 (Insulin like Growth Factor 1) also fall significantly. IGF-1 is very important when it comes to the muscle growth process so anything we can do to maintain it is obviously of value. Taurine helps to reduce this age related decline and also aids in the retention of antioxidant nutrients such as Vitamin E and A. This leads to less free radical damage and therefore a slowing of the whole aging process.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE FOR USERS OF CLENBUTEROL
Many users of the drug Clenbuterol experience debilitating cramping. This is mostly due to the depletion of Taurine in the liver together with an imbalance of electrolytes (particularly sodium and potassium). Dehydration can also play a major part when it comes to the occurrence of muscle cramps. Studies have shown that Taurine relieves muscle cramps by preventing nerves from becoming over excited and stabilizing cell membranes. In this instance the recommended dose for Taurine would be 3-5 grams daily. Adequate hydration and potassium supplementation should also be considered.
Given the evidence, it would appear that the case for using Taurine as part of your supplement regime is very strong. The recommended dose is 1-3 grams daily and, in terms of your workout, it is best to consume half of this 30-60 minutes before training and the second half immediately following your workout. The only caution would apply to individuals who develop stomach ulcers when taking aspirin since Taurine may increase stomach acidity.
So, if Taurine isn't already taking up a parking space on your supplement shelf maybe it's time to ask your other aminos to move up a little and make room for this little powerhouse!