Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Taurine in energy drinks: What is it?

Caffeine and taurine are not similar substances. Caffeine is a stimulant, and taurine is an amino acid. Taurine supports neurological development and helps regulate the level of water and mineral salts in the blood. Taurine is also thought to have antioxidant properties.

Taurine is found naturally in meat, fish and breast milk, and it's commonly available as a dietary supplement. Some studies suggest that taurine supplementation may improve athletic performance, which may explain why taurine is used in many energy drinks. Other studies suggest that taurine and caffeine act together to improve athletic and perhaps even mental performance, although this finding remains controversial.

Up to 3,000 milligrams of supplemental taurine a day is considered safe. Any excess taurine is simply excreted by the kidneys. Moderation is important, however. Little is known about the effects of heavy or long-term taurine use. It's also important to remember that other ingredients in energy drinks, such as high amounts of caffeine or sugar, can be harmful. For example, too much caffeine can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, interrupt your sleep, and cause nervousness and irritability.

To ensure peak performance, don't depend on energy drinks and supplements. Instead, focus on a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy foods, include physical activity in your daily routine and get enough sleep.

Reference: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/taurine/an01856

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