What is Taurine?
Taurine is a beta-amino acid and is not an amino acid by the classic definition. While taurine generally is the second most abundant amino acid in muscle, some biologists have determined that it, not glutamine, is the most abundant free amino in type 2 muscle fibre. Exercise and low vitamin B6 have been shown to reduce the whole body Taurine levels.
Where Does Taurine Come From?
It is manufactured from the amino acids methionine and cysteine, with help from vitamin B6. Animal protein is a good source, but taurine is not found in vegetable protein.
Role of Taurine
Taurine is responsible for many vital functions within the body. Taurine has been shown to protect from oxidative damage, such as that which occurs after exercise. Tests have demonstrated that supplementation with Taurine improved exercise time to exhaustion and significantly reduced white blood cell DNA damage. Taurine has also been shown to be involved in the regulation of core body temperature and its use may even prevent heat stress and stroke. Taurine is an amino acid that is one of the body’s most abundant, tissue specific and naturally occurring anti-oxidants.1
Taurine & The Bodybuilder
Taurine has several critical functions and can act similarly to creatine in that it expands your cells by helping the muscle cell itself hold more water, increasing cell volume. For a bodybuilder, this is significant as expanded muscle cells boost hydration resulting in improved protein synthesis. This increased fullness in the appearance of muscle would be appreciated by bodybuilders. It is also believed that taurine enhances a lifter's leverage, thus helping the lifter in handling heavier weights. Taurine is also effective as a cellular protector against exercise induced DNA damage. It appears to reduce muscle damage caused by exercise, therefore accelerating recovery between workouts. Research also indicates that taurine can improve exercise performance by increasing muscle force and contraction (strength). Taurine can also exert an insulin-like effect. Research suggests that it can improve insulin resistance and help the body better use glucose. With high intensity exercise, blood levels of taurine increase.
Taurine is added to creatine and amino acid supplements to enhance their effect.2 It is also available in a singular powder form.
Taurine For Strength Athletes
Research has indicated that Taurine improves exercise performance by increasing muscle strength, help the body better use glucose, and protects the body form exercise induced muscle damage. It can also help give muscles the fullness that they desire. For these reasons, taurine is a worthwhile supplement to assist bodybuilders.
1 Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements, Jose Antonio, PhD, Douglas Kalman, Phd, RD, Jeffrey R. Stout, PhD, Mike Greenwood, PhD, Darryn S. Willoughby, PhD, G. Gregory Haff PhD., p. 507
2 Power Eating, Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD, p. 180