If you're a fan of energy drinks and supplements, you may have noticed taurine on the ingredient labels of some of your favorite products. Taurine, which comes from the Greek (Tauros) and Latin (Taurus) words for "bull," is an amino acid that was originally discovered and isolated in an ox. Contrary to popular rumors, taurine has nothing to do with bull semen, bull urine, or any other fluid found in bulls.

Before you reach for your next energy drink, let's talk about what this "wonder molecule" is all about!

Taurine and Your Day-to-Day Health

Taurine plays an important role in overall health and well-being.* However, unlike caffeine, taurine is not a stimulant, and there is currently little evidence that it can help you build bigger muscles or provide you with energy.

Taurine is found naturally in several dietary sources. A typical diet may include 50-200 milligrams of taurine a day, depending on how much fish and meat you consume. You can also get taurine from sea algae and sea plants, and our bodies even create some taurine on their own.

If you're a vegetarian or vegan and not getting these daily amounts, you may want to consider a taurine supplement for its role in supporting heart health, brain and muscle function, and fat metabolism.*

Heart health:

  • May support healthy cholesterol levels already within a normal range*[1,2]
  • May support healthy blood pressure values already within a normal range*[3,4]

Brain and muscle function:

  • May support mood*[5]
  • Aids in muscle contraction*[6]
  • Reduces exercise-induced oxidative damage*[7,8]

Fat metabolism:

  • Aids in fat mobilization and oxidation*[9]
  • Along with other healthy life changes, may help overweight individuals lose weight*[2]

Taurine's Role in Exercise Performance

A study of endurance athletes showed that cyclists who supplemented with taurine burned more fat than carbohydrates to fuel their ride. This is good news because fats are a more efficient form of energy than carbs, and the average person has a nearly limitless supply (roughly 100,000 calories) of fat stored in their bodies.[9]

Other studies suggest that taurine supplementation may improve reaction time, mood, and mental focus, as well as improve aerobic endurance, increase maximum speed, and reduce perception of fatigue.* However, the taurine supplement used in these studies also contained caffeine, making it unclear to what extent taurine alone was responsible for these improvements.[10-12]

The Big Picture

While taurine can help support some aspects of overall health, its value as a performance-enhancing supplement is less convincing.* Endurance athletes, or anyone who does a lot of steady-state cardio, may benefit from taurine's ability to burn fat instead of carbs, but strength or power athletes aren't likely to see a difference in their workout from taurine alone.

Taurine is considered safe with doses up to 3,000 milligrams per day. It can be taken on its own as a supplement, or more commonly, as part of an energy drink. Just be aware that energy drinks are often high in calories and sugar, and the high amount of caffeine in most energy drinks may disrupt your sleep schedule. This can potentially negate any positive effects taurine might have on your exercise performance. 

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

  1. Murakami, S. (2014). Taurine and atherosclerosis. Amino Acids, 46(1), 73-80.
  2. Zhang, M., Bi, L. F., Fang, J. H., Su, X. L., Da, G. L., Kuwamori, T., & Kagamimori, S. (2003). Beneficial effects of taurine on serum lipids in overweight or obese non-diabetic subjects. Amino Acids, 26(3).
  3. Militante, J. D., & Lombardini, J. B. (2002). Treatment of hypertension with oral taurine: experimental and clinical studies. Amino Acids, 23(4), 381-393.
  4. Idrissi, A. E., Okeke, E., Yan, X., Sidime, F., & Neuwirth, L. S. (2013). Taurine Regulation of Blood Pressure and Vasoactivity. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology Taurine 8, 407-425.
  5. Seidl, R., Peyrl, A., Nicham, R., & Hauser, E. (2000). A taurine and caffeine-containing drink stimulates cognitive performance and well-being. Amino Acids, 19(3-4), 635-642.
  6. Hamilton, E. J., Berg, H. M., Easton, C. J., & Bakker, A. J. (2006). The effect of taurine depletion on the contractile properties and fatigue in fast-twitch skeletal muscle of the mouse. Amino Acids, 31(3), 273-278.
  7. Dawson Jr, R., Biasetti, M., Messina, S., & Dominy, J. (2002). The cytoprotective role of taurine in exercise-induced muscle injury. Amino Acids, 22(4), 309-324.
  8. Zhang, M., Izumi, I., Kagamimori, S., Sokejima, S., Yamagami, T., Liu, Z., & Qi, B. (2004). Role of taurine supplementation to prevent exercise-induced oxidative stress in healthy young men. Amino Acids, 26(2), 203-207.
  9. Rutherford, J. A., Spriet, L. L., & Stellingwerff, T. (2010). The effect of acute taurine ingestion on endurance performance and metabolism in well-trained cyclists. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 20(4), 322-329.
  10. Seidl, R., Peyrl, A., Nicham, R., & Hauser, E. (2000). A taurine and caffeine-containing drink stimulates cognitive performance and well-being. Amino Acids, 19(3-4), 635-642.
  11. Warburton, D. M., Bersellini, E., & Sweeney, E. (2001). An evaluation of a caffeinated taurine drink on mood, memory and information processing in healthy volunteers without caffeine abstinence. Psychopharmacology, 158(3), 322-328.
  12. Alford, C., Cox, H., & Wescott, R. (2001). The effects of red bull energy drink on human performance and mood. Amino Acids, 21(2), 139-150.

About the Author

Emily Barnhart, CSCS

Emily Barnhart is a Master’s student at The Ohio State University. Much of her time goes towards studying various diet protocols on strength performance in tactical athletes. However...

View all articles by this author

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