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This Common Energy Drink Ingredient Is Actually Super Healthy

Author:

Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN

July 11, 2024

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

By Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Molly Knudsen, M.S., RDN is a Registered Dietician Nutritionist with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from Texas Christian University and a master’s in nutrition interventions, communication, and behavior change from Tufts University. She lives in Newport Beach, California, and enjoys connecting people to the food they eat and how it influences health and wellbeing.

Image by Jeff Wasserman / Stocksy

July 11, 2024

The words energy drinks and healthy don’t tend to go hand-in-hand. Many are bursting with added (or fake) sugars, preservatives, and even artificial colors. But many also add ingredients you would see in supplements. And taurine in particular has been hyped up on these cans for years. 

While energy drinks may not be the best way to get this amino acid, it is one you do want to get more of in your diet. Here’s what you need to know about taurine, its health benefits, and the best way to up your intake. 

What is taurine?

Taurine is an amino acid you get from protein-rich foods like shellfish (your body also produces some taurine on its own). Unlike other amino acids that are used to build muscle, taurine is a free amino acid1 that’s vital for energy production and mitochondrial health2, which is what makes it an appealing addition to energy drinks.*

But that’s not the only thing this amino acid is involved in. Taurine also plays important roles in water balance, calcium and potassium regulation, bile creation, and nervous system function.

Research shows that suboptimal taurine levels may be linked to more health struggles, whereas supporting the body’s stores of it (mainly through supplementation) can be really beneficial in these scenarios.

1.

Exercise performance 

Taurine supplementation has been extensively studied in humans as a way to improve exercise performance. 

In fact, the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition published a review of 19 studies of taurine’s impact on exercise and concluded that taking 1-3 grams of the amino acid one to three hours before a physical stressor improved:*

Aerobic performance (including time to fatigue)

StrengthPowerMuscle sorenessLactate levels

The researchers attributed these benefits to taurine’s energy-producing capabilities, its ability to help the body tap into fat stores during exercise, and its ability to help regulate oxidative stress.*

2.

Heart health

Emerging research also indicates that taurine supports heart health.* 

A 2023 review analyzed the existing data on taurine and cardiovascular health3 from human, animal, and lab studies. Findings revealed that the amino acid enhances the contractility of heart muscles and may promote healthy blood pressure—and that’s exactly what a 2024 meta-analysis showed. 

This study pooled 25 randomized controlled trials that specifically looked at the impact of taurine supplementation and markers of cardiometabolic health4. Results showed that it did consistently improve blood pressure as well as triglyceride levels (all good signs for heart health). 

3.

Blood sugar

That same meta-analysis also indicated that taurine supports healthy blood sugar levels.*

This may be due to the amino acid’s antioxidant properties and its role in influencing how the body uses energy. *

4.

Longevity

The newest area of interest when it comes to taurine is its potential role in longevity. A 2023 mouse study5 found that supplementing with taurine could increase their life expectancy by 25%. 

More research is absolutely needed before drawing conclusions about the human lifespan. But we do know that taurine stores decline with age5, so focusing on taurine intake as you get older becomes increasingly important.* 

How to get more taurine

Relying on energy drinks for taurine is not really the best way to get this nutrient. 

Eating more protein-rich foods can help, but to take full advantage of all of taurine’s benefits (in addition to making up lost stores from aging), a supplement is helpful.*

And mindbodygreen’s creatine+ is a great choice. This powdered supplement contains an ideal 2-gram dose of taurine (research shows you want between 1 and 3 grams daily) and an optimal 5-gram dose of creatine.*

These two compounds make the perfect pairing as they both help you achieve your fitness goals, support brain health, and energize your cells.*

The takeaway

While most recognizable on energy drink cans, taurine is a nutrient that most people should pay more attention to.* And if you’re actively trying to improve your fitness, cognition, or cardiometabolic health, then creatine+ is a great choice to add to your routine.* 

If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you. 

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