What taurine? Benefits, side effects of the energy drink supplement

Sparkle, taurine, sparkle — it’s your turn in the spotlight.

The supplement, found in foods and many energy drinks, is getting lots of attention since a medical expert referred to it as “an elixir of life.”

That glowing reference came after new research revealed that taurine seems to slow the aging process and extend healthy lifespans.

But before you go chugging taurine-loaded energy drinks like Rockstar, Celsius and Red Bull, take a look at taurine and what it can — and can’t — do for you.

What is taurine?

“Taurine is an amino acid and is made by the body,” Lisa Young, Ph.D., R.D., a nutrition professor at New York University, told The Post in an email.

It’s important for infants and young children, and is abundant in breast milk, according to a 2020 report in the journal Amino Acids.

The compound performs several important roles in adults, too.

Taurine is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that helps with digestion, energy production, immune response, neurological development, brain functioning, eyesight, nerve and muscle conduction and more.

image of a seafood platter
Seafood, including scallops, shrimp and other shellfish, is a rich source of taurine.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

It’s not found in most plants — sorry, vegans — but it can be found in nori, the seaweed used to make sushi.

“While vegans may benefit from a supplement, we should proceed with caution until we have larger studies confirming its efficacy and safety,” said Dr. Young.

Most people get plenty of taurine from animal products, Dr. Young said, though levels of taurine in the body “decline as you age.”

Seafood, particularly shellfish, has plenty of taurine. Scallops, clams, mussels, shrimp, octopus, tuna, cod and oysters are rich sources of the compound.

Meats also have some taurine, including beef, chicken, turkey, salami, bologna, veal, ham and pork, according to a report published in the journal Atherosclerosis.

Dairy products, such as yogurt, ice cream and pasteurized milk, have smaller amounts of taurine.

Taurine benefits

There are some medical situations where taurine supplements can be helpful.

cans of energy drinks
Many energy drinks contain taurine, plus plenty of caffeine, sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Getty Images

For example, a 2008 study in Experimental & Clinical Cardiology found that it might improve heart function in people with chronic heart failure and decrease blood pressure in people with high blood pressure.

A number of reports also suggest that taurine could potentially improve exercise performance, alleviate muscle cramps and improve overall cardiovascular health.

Taurine supplements

Taurine, in addition to powdered supplements and capsules, is found in varying quantities in the following energy drinks and energy bars:

  • 3D Energy Drink
  • AMP Energy Drink
  • Celsius Live Fit
  • Cocaine Energy Drink
  • Energy Rush Stix
  • Full Throttle Energy Drink
  • Ghost Energy
  • Jaguar Fox Gaming Energy Bars
  • Juvee Rejuvenating Energy Drink
  • Launch Energy Bars
  • Monster Energy
  • Prime Energy Drink
  • PureBoost Clean Energy Drink
  • Red Bull Energy Drink
  • Red Tazz Energy Drink
  • Rockstar Energy Drinks
  • VOOM Pocket Rocket Caffeine Kick Energy Bars

Taurine side effects

There isn’t much information on safe dosages — or evidence that taurine can be dangerous in high amounts — but a 2019 study found that “the highest level of taurine is 3 [grams] per day, which did not show adverse effects.”

It’s also possible that taurine could interfere with certain medications, so it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional before taking taurine supplements if you’re also taking prescription drugs.

What most concerns health experts isn’t adding taurine to your diet through energy drinks, but the other ingredients in those drinks, including artificial sweeteners.

“These drinks tend to be high in caffeine and added sugar,” Dr. Young noted. “They also have other ingredients that could be harmful in large amounts.” 


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