Is Taurine in Energy Drinks Dangerous?

Taurine in Energy Drinks

The multi-billion dollar phenomenon of energy drinks has captured the attention of scientists and nutritionists across the country. One of the main reasons is taurine, a common ingredient found in the caffeine and sugar-laden concoctions.

What is Taurine?

Taurine is a free form amino acid contained in foods and manufactured in the body from the amino acid cysteine. It was first discovered in the bile of bulls, and now produced synthetically by the truckload. Since taurine is created naturally in the human body, a good diet supplies all you need.

Because taurine is utilized by the body during exercise and in times of stress, it’s become a popular ingredient in energy drinks. But taurine has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system that’s very unnatural.

Taurine Side Effects

Studies have implicated synthetic taurine in illnesses ranging from high blood pressure to strokes and seizures to heart disease. For these reasons it’s been banned in some Scandinavian countries after being linked to the deaths of three consumers.

Is Taurine an Upper or Downer? Surprising New Research on the Brain

Scientists have known for a couple of years that taurine is involved somehow in the development and function of the brain. But recently they’ve discovered a more defined area of taurine’s neurological activity. In a recent article from MedicalNewsToday.com, researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York say they were “surprised” to find taurine “extraordinarily active” on brain receptors [1].

Even though taurine is known to be a key amino acid, the researchers say they’re curious and puzzled still about the function of taurine in the brain, and have more questions than answers.

They found taurine working deep inside the brain, in the “regulatory” area of the thalamus, interacting with neurotransmitters. The thalamus is involved in sleep/wake cycle pathways in the brain and other activities.

“Its inclusion in these supplements is a little puzzling, because our research would suggest that instead of being a pick-me-up, the taurine actually would have more of a sedative effect on the brain,” the scientists said [2].

    “Remarkably little is known about the effects of energy drinks on the brain. We can’t even be sure how much of the taurine in the drink actually reaches the brain! Assuming that some of it does get absorbed, the taurine-which, if anything, seems to have a sedating effect on the brain-may actually play a role in the ‘crash’ people often report after drinking these highly caffeinated beverages. People have speculated that the post-Red Bull low was simply a caffeine-rebound effect, but it might also be due to the taurine content.”

That’s a huge concern because it’s become trendy with young people to mix the drinks with alcohol. The daily serving of Taurine should be between 100-500mg, and one can of a popular energy drink, for example, has 1000 milligrams of synthetically produced Taurine. Some people are drinking up to eight cans a day (8000mg of Taurine), an amount that can have drug-like effects on the body and cause damage. Furthermore, mixing stimulants with sedatives, especially alcohol, is extremely risky.

Taurine: The Magic Bullet for Energy?

There’s no magic bullet for strength and endurance. I would recommend that you avoid energy drinks. Treat them like soft drinks, or even worse. The lofty claims on these drinks for instant vitality are simply outrageous. A good, varied diet of whole organic live foods gives you all the Taurine you need, without the highs and lows of energy drinks.

Natural Taurine is actually beneficial for the body and can be found in cows milk, meat, fish and eggs and for vegetarians it can be found seaweed. The daily allotment of Taurine should be no higher than 500mg.

Make sure you exercise and get enough sleep, and remember, medicine and illness can zap your energy. Stay properly hydrated with lots of purified water, especially when you’re exercising hard or you’re stressed. It’s a good idea to drink lots of water regardless.

Take a pass on the “crash and burn” high from caffeine and sugar – and taurine. The ingredients of these drinks, both mysterious and some not too mysterious, are a recipe for disaster. They may “give you wings,” but you’ll soon come tumbling down – and in the long run, crash really hard.

Alternative to Taurine and Energy Drinks

Everyone needs a boost once in a while, some more often than others. I suggest avoiding energy drinks at all times and instead recommend eating lots of fruits and vegetables also known as energy foods- these are nature’s form of turbo boost. Taking a multi-vitamin such as Intramax will also help in giving you that extra boost we all look for in mid-afternoon without bringing you crashing down a few hours later.

- Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, ND, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. n.p. Scientists Close In On Taurine’s Activity In The Brain. Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 2008 January 18.
  2. Patrick Di Justo. What’s Inside: Red Bull. Wired Magazine. 2007 June 26.

Free Sample E-Book: Learn How to Cleanse Your Body of Harmful Toxins Using Organic Methods

This entry was posted in Food

  • ghc_health

    Hi Rob,

    I’m sorry the article upset you, it wasn’t our intention to ruin your day. What information, specifically, do you take issue with? I’d like to see if we can find some common ground somewhere.

    -Dr. Edward Group

  • Jeffrey

    Caution: Careful when driving. I remember, somewhere, high caffeine consumption, is attributed to “red light runners”.

  • sreynolds

    They put it in the formula because taurine is needed for brain development. For brain tissue development, among other things. I’m really disappointed in the fallacies of this article.

  • sreynolds

    Taurine is commonly found in all people since it is one of the most plentiful amino acids in the human brain…..

  • sreynolds

    Errr….meant organic acid. It is NOT an amino acid.

    I get so annoyed with fear-mongering articles like this, that have virtually no scientific basis to it. It makes it hard to sift through to find things you actually should be afraid of.

  • sreynolds

    Okay, what annoys me about this article is the condemnation of taurine, which is probably the ONLY healthy thing in the energy drinks. I could understand the ranting and raving against the sugar and caffeine, but, good grief, taurine is its only saving grace.

    I have a taurine deficiency, so I know more than a little about it. I was rolling my eyes all the way through reading this. (Forced me to stop a lot). Don’t write about things you know nothing about.

    I would also like to see links to those studies tying synthetic taurine to health problems. There is no left and right molecule that indicates a difference in synthetic or natural taurine, like there is in amino acids, that changes the molecular makeup, so your body would not differentiate, and the two wouldn’t have different properties like some of the synthetic vs. natural amino acids do. (Such as L-phenylalanine and D-phenylalanine, or even DL-phenylalanine).

  • sreynolds

    But you’ve named this story The Dangers of Taurine, Commonly Found in Energy Drinks , yet your studies mention other ingredients being a problem and energy drinks in general. If you are going to attack taurine, base it on facts about taurine. If you are going to attack energy drinks, base it on facts about ALL the bad ingredients in energy drinks.

    Learn to frickin’ write an article.

    The epilepsy reference you mention is disappointing. Most people with epilepsy can’t handle caffeine, and guarana is also caffeine.

    I’ve had epilepsy for years, even as a child, but since i found my taurine deficiency and supplement with a SYNTHETIC source, I no longer have seizures. Apparently I don’t need the ‘energetic value of the food’.

    As early as 2003, studies have been done linking taurine with helping epilepsy and it is irresponsible of you to throw in a study that includes caffeine and gaurana.

    As far as your last reference. Really? You’re going to reference a hospital ‘postulating’ that something ‘probably’ caused it? That isn’t a study to me.

    Here is one for you:

    Adv Exp Med Biol. 2003;526:515-25.

    Prevention of epileptic seizures by taurine.

    El Idrissi A, Messing J, Scalia J, Trenkner E.

    Source

    New
    York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities
    and The Center for Developmental Neuroscience, The City University of
    New York, Staten Island, NY 10314, USA.

    Abstract

    Parenteral
    injection of kainic acid (KA), a glutamate receptor agonist, causes
    severe and stereotyped behavioral convulsions in mice and is used as a
    rodent model for human temporal lobe epilepsy. The goal of this study is
    to examine the potential anti-convulsive effects of the neuro-active
    amino acid taurine, in the mouse model of KA-induced limbic seizures. We
    found that taurine (43 mg/Kg, s.c.) had a significant antiepileptic
    effect when injected 10 min prior to KA. Acute injection of taurine
    increased the onset latency and reduced the occurrence of tonic
    seizures. Taurine also reduced the duration of tonic-clonic convulsions
    and mortality rate following KA-induced seizures. Furthermore, taurine
    significantly reduced neuronal cell death in the CA3 region of the
    hippocampus, the most susceptible region to KA in the limbic system. On
    the other hand, supplementation of taurine in drinking water (0.05%) for
    4 continuous weeks failed to decrease the number or latency of partial
    or tonic-clonic seizures. To the contrary, we found that taurine-fed
    mice showed increased susceptibility to KA-induced seizures, as
    demonstrated by a decreased latency for clonic seizures, an increased
    incidence and duration of tonic-clonic seizures, increased neuronal
    death in the CA3 region of the hippocampus and a higher post-seizure
    mortality of the animals. We suggest that the reduced susceptibility to
    KA-induced seizures in taurine-injected mice is due to an increase in
    GABA receptor function in the brain which increases the inhibitory drive
    within the limbic system. This is supported by our in vitro data
    obtained in primary neuronal cultures showing that taurine acts as a low
    affinity agonist for GABA(A) receptors, protects neurons against
    kainate excitotoxic insults and modulates calcium homeostasis.
    Therefore, taurine is potentially capable of treating seizure-associated
    brain damage.

    PMID:12908638 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

    It seems to me taurine is in energy drinks to help counter the excitotoxic insults caused by the stimulants in them. If you are going to pick on an ingredient, pick on a different one.

  • Jon Anthony Hamilton

    More than likely is synthetic like the rest of the ingredients. I recommend breast feeding and goat’s milk as the only alternative.

  • Alisia Harris

    I abuse energy drinks to combat the tiredness I feel that comes along with the high dose of anti epileptic medications. This worked very well for a period of time. Now I start to get auras just from half a can.

  • Alisia Harris

    Is it possible to discuss this with u further. I’m trying to lower my anti epileptics as far as I can in the hopes of starting a family. So I’m iut looking for other options.

  • Duchess

    Hahah this article made me laugh. So much bad logic and disinformation. So much stupid and guilt by association.

    Taurine is not a stimulant, it is put into energy drinks to MITIGATE the excitotoxic effects of stimulants. LOL. And anybody who drinks Red Bulls for the taurine content is a moron. Only pure taurine powder from a trusted vendor should be supplemented if that is someone’s goal.

    Taurine is often used in conjunction with so-called nootropics for the same reason, either in the place of or together with theanine.

    Taurine also helps prevent vasodilatory migraines triggered by glutamate activity.

    Taurine supplementation is commonly found to be helpful with autistic children, and speech delays.

    Taurine is added in infant formula, added in high-end cat and dog multivitamins and food and recommended by vets.

    Taurine does not make you crash later because again, it is not a stimulant. It is the opposite, but not sedative enough to compromise your alterness. Calms anxiety and aids in seizure prevention. Helps with mild forms of insomnia. It’s no surprise that taurine ‘seems to have sedative effects on the brain’. – DUH

    I have a feeling that the title of the article was deliberately misleading. I see the same tactics in anti-evolution propaganda all over the internet. It’s just pathetic.

  • Duchess

    All you did was point out that ingesting insane amounts of caffeine is very very bad and can kill you outright. Congratulations.

  • ANON

    TAURINE IS NOT AN AMINO ACID!!!!11!!

  • TaurineM8

    Whaaaattttt?? All my life I have believed this! You have ruined my life “Anon”. And what is with the all caps?

  • Shaun

    Taurine is in the Vitamin Water power-c flavor, which I drink for basketball. Now I really don’t wan;t to have taurine again. I’ll pick a different Vitamin water flavor

  • JringJring

    Your article isn’t properly cited and contradicts common knowledge on taurine. More references would be nice.

  • CyclingBOSS

    There’s nothing wrong with energy drinks such as red bull, i take one before/during competition and i perform at a much higher standard than without!! Everything in moderation

  • Kellyboat

    No it’s more likely to be in energy drinks because it gives you energy, duh. What a silly blog article. It has hundreds of positive effects. Search on “taurine obesity” for an eye opener.

  • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

    Can you cite the sources for this statement? “Studies have implicated synthetic taurine in illnesses ranging from high blood pressure to strokes and seizures to heart disease.” Anytime you say “studies” or “research” in your writing you should cite the study in question. This adds credibility to your argument.

  • shipsailed

    What is a good source of Taurine? Thanks….I have read and read and want to get one that is the real thing and produces results.
    Does anyone know?

  • Penny
  • http://www.caffeineinformer.com/ Ted

    That isn’t a scientific study reference. Nor does that reference state where their information is from.

  • Drive by commenter

    5 years later, but, Jolt is still around. It’s just lost a lot of market share to the new energy drinks.

  • Pramod kumar

    ya ! its really harmful too to those, who are already used to prefer meat before the energy drink like RED BULL famous all over the world..
    i want to take some action to ban it , the Taurine is a fake amino acid then why they are used it and made men full.
    the common person does not know about it..

  • Jonah Stephen Swersey

    Why is there no citation on the studies linking Taurin to high blood pressure, seizures, and heart disease? Seriously, you’d think that’d be the #1 thing to back up in this article – it’s certainly the most interesting claim.

WAYS TO SAVE

SHOPPING

MY ACCOUNT

QUICK HELP

GHC on the Web