Everyone, more or less, knows the taurine, the substance that companies put into the most famous energy drinks, but what is it and where does it come from? Before starting, let’s dispel a myth: no, it doesn’t come from bull semen as urban legends say.
There Taurine is a type of amino acid present in many foods and is produced in the liver and is found in high concentrations in the brain, heart and muscles. It is also found in the bile of many animals, including cows and pigs, and is sometimes extracted from these sources to be used in food supplements and in energy drinks.
The main sources of taurine are foods of animal origin, such as meat, fish and dairy products. An average diet provides about 40 mg of taurine per day and is produced artificially in a process known as the “Mitsunobu reaction”. Taurine may have benefits for athletic performance (but it’s also useful for maintaining proper hydration and aiding digestion through the production of bile salts, among many things).
In animal studies, taurine made muscles work harder and longer and has improved their ability to contract and generate force. In human studies, the substance has been shown to remove waste products that lead to fatigue and muscle burns. Taurine is often added to energy drinks because it is believed to enhance the effects of caffeine (and these two elements are often found together).
Some think that taurine helps balance out some of the negative effects of caffeine and may also help improve concentration and mental performance. Of course, it is better to take it with food rather than with energy drinks.