Also Known As: Taurine, L-Taurine
Taurine, or 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid, is an organic acid widely distributed in animal tissues. It is a major constituent of bile and can be found in the large intestine and accounts for approximately 0.1% of total human body weight. Taurine has many fundamental biological roles such as conjugation of bile acids, antioxidation, osmoregulation, membrane stabilization and modulation of calcium signaling. It is essential for cardiovascular function, and development and function of skeletal muscle, the retina and the central nervous system. Taurine is unusual among biological molecules in being a sulfonic acid, while the vast majority of biologically occurring acids contain the more weakly acidic carboxyl group. While taurine is sometimes called an amino acid, and indeed is an acid containing an amino group, it is not an amino acid in the usual biochemical meaning of the term, which refers to compounds containing both an amino and a carboxyl group.
A study of mice hereditarily unable to transport taurine suggests that it is needed for proper maintenance and functioning of skeletal muscles. In addition, it has been shown to be effective in removing fatty liver deposits in rats, preventing liver disease, and reducing cirrhosis in tested animals. There is also evidence that taurine is beneficial for adult human blood pressure and possibly, the alleviation of other cardiovascular ailments (in humans suffering essential hypertension, taurine supplementation resulted in measurable decreases in blood pressure).
Taurine is regularly used as an ingredient in energy drinks, with many containing 1000 mg per serving, and some as much as 2000 mg. A 2003 study by the European Food Safety Authority found no adverse effects for up to 1,000 mg of taurine per kilogram of body weight per day.
A review published in 2008 found no documented reports of negative or positive health effects associated with the amount of taurine used in energy drinks, concluding that "The amounts of guarana, taurine, and ginseng found in popular energy drinks are far below the amounts expected to deliver either therapeutic benefits or adverse events".