Is Taurine in Energy Drinks Dangerous?

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on October 9, 2015

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. Taurine shows an anxiolytic effect on the central nervous system, causing a possible reduction of anxiety symptoms associated with caffeine intake. While this may sound beneficial, perhaps its not the best thing to intake when seeking energy for your daily tasks.

Taurine Side Effects

Taurine, mostly in its natural form, actually shows positive effects on the cardiovascular system, nervous system, and immune system. Since it has been shown to somewhat mitigate anxiety, it may counteract the effects of caffeine in energy drinks. Some argue that this may cause a person to feel unsatisfied with the lack of adrenalin they receive from the energy drink, causing them to reach for more caffeine. Could this lead to a vicious cycle of dependency? Probably not, but research has yet to conclude whether or not this is a serious issue.

Studies have implicated energy drinks 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, 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. Current research on the interaction between taurine and caffeine, not to mention the interaction between these ingredients and alcohol, is nonexistent. Furthermore, mixing stimulants with sedatives, especially alcohol, is potentially risky.

Taurine: The Magic Bullet for Energy?

There’s no magic bullet for strength and endurance. Energy — true energy — comes from a healthy diet rich in raw foods. I would recommend that you avoid energy drinks altogether, mostly for their high caffeine and sugar content. 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; however, higher amounts from food have shown no toxic effects.

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.


  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.

  • 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.


    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.


    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


  • 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.

  • 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
  • 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.

  • Grant Grimland

    Please take this from someone who is completely up-to-date on the latest research on taurine, it composes 0.1 % of human body weight, and is extremely valuable to have in one’s diet. It’s a blessing, and based on its functions can save your cells from death. Heres a lethal scenario it will save you from.. You eat a very large amount of salt and sugar from a McDonalds king size meal and it brings your blood level of both of these things to an extremely high level compared to what is inside your cells, which is a level reached before you ate. Your cells are defined as a small region which has a membrane enclosing it from the outside of it, and this is like its skin. This skin has pores though, an they let things in and out in response to whats inside and outside of them. When you add this much salt and sugar to the outside of them, they actually generate so much pressure to be inside the cells that your cells pop and die, particularly brain cells. Taurine is used by astroglia, a type of immune cell that lives with your neurons to support them all the time, and it would be released to change the pressure levels on your brain cells.
    If caffiene created a squishing effect, the taurine would allow your brain cells to remain stimulated but also at safe pressure gradients :)

  • joanne

    If you have a heart condition is it ok to drink any products with this as an ingredient. I mix a powder that has this with my spring water and a little while later my chest starts to hurt on the heart side so should i stop drinking this.

  • Adam Ehis

    I’m 31, almost 32 and have been having grand mal seizures since I was about 17. Let me tell you, it sucks. I can usually tell when one is about to come. I become foggy and unable to concentrate. My hands and feet become real cold but sweaty. My stomach hurts and I feel nauseous but can’t throw up. I become extremely uncomfortable and fidgety. All of those feelings happen for about an hour or so before hand. It’s not the best experience. Even if take more medication when I feel one coming I’ll have one. —– At some point I gain consciousness after I don’t know how long with the worst headache and no memory whatsoever of what happened prior or minutes after an episode. Occasionally I’ll bite my tongue or cheek. I’ve tried almost every kind of epileptic medication and I still have breakthroughs. My long term memory is slowly deteriorating. There is nothing I can do except to spread love, pay it forward, and enjoy life while I am still able to. I am content and have accepted my future. When you notice someone having a seizure or about to have a seizure, try to put something soft under their head and stand back. Don’t hold them down. They will eventually snap out of it. that was how a friend ask me to email aishatheorginal for help , iam free now if you have lost hope now there is hope EMAIL. or for your help or call +2348148345303 there is hope now friend

  • Alpine Snowdrop

    His research findings seem quite different than other credibe sources out there, some of his findings seem OK, but I don’t trust his info on taurine. Could it be that it’s just hard to manufacture taurine from organic sources to sell as supplements (since he’s a naturopathic doctor, everything he sells has to be organic or whatever), so he just persuades consumers into not buying it, but links you to buy his completely organic $80 bottle of vitamins instead. He probably doesn’t see patients anymore because he is too busy creating organic products to sell, he probably makes a ton of money doing that. His products seem awesome, but I have to wonder why he would slam taurine, and why his findings seem very biased:/

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  • Michael

    Not sure where you get your information, but most of the information I’ve read is that Taurine is relaxing, not stimulating. It acts more like Gaba. My guess it’s in energy drinks to counter all the caffeine. Also, Taurine is used by my doctor in high doses for heart issues. I read on a legit site that it can help with “Solution for Seizures, Taurine Reverses Cardiovascular Disease Factors, etc….” Yet you say side effects include “….strokes and seizures to heart disease”. It seems to me that everything you say about taurine is the opposite of what it actually does.

    Are you referring to a synthetic version of Taurine used in energy drinks vs. natural free-form Taurine in supplements?


  • D Snow

    The interesting part is they don’t mention that Taurine as a stand alone supplement (comes in powder and pill form) nullifies all of the “bad” side effects of this article. Any negative they mention here has to do with it’s combination with caffeine. Seems they have nothing bad to say about Taurine itself. I take 3,000mg a day of it split into 3, and it’s done wonders for my mood, energy, and fitness.

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  • lAO

    how does taurine affect the enviroment?

  • Stinger Bee

    This ‘article’ is just a FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) sales pitch for Intramax.
    I’m not suggesting that energy drinks are good for you. But this is just another hysterical article about some substance being ‘dangerous.’ Then once the reader is sufficiently worried, another product is suggested to solve the same problem without the FUD.
    This is why I hate the internet sometimes.

  • Stinger Bee

    One other thing – the author of this article is warning you that it ‘might’ be unhealthy to drink energy drinks because taurine. He then goes on to try to sell you a muti-vitamin supplement. Did he mention anywhere in the article the mountains of research showing that multi-vitamin supplementation increases the risk of getting cancer?

  • Fly Swatter

    What are you talking about, Bethany? Maybe I’ve missed it but I haven’t found the hysteria in this article that appears to be upsetting your blood sugar. Don’t they say that taurine isn’t dangerous and is actually good? How ironic that your point is spot on. One of the worst things about the internet IS people who don’t read past the headlines, which is clearly what happened here.

  • swimjim

    Wikipedia quotes a study that claims the “lethal” dose is 50mg / kg of body weight, but also states that a later study could not duplicate the results from high levels. If a 185 pound person is consuming more then 4000mg of taurine, they are in danger of overdosing other ingredients first.

  • Stephen

    Because it lowers BP … Taurine, a sulfur-containing amino acid, has been reported to have antihypertensive and sympatholytic activity. [40] Nineteen patients with borderline hypertension were supplemented with 6 g taurine daily for seven days in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Systolic BP in the 10 taurine-treated patients decreased an average of 9 mm Hg compared with a 2 mm Hg decrease in the nine patients treated with placebo; diastolic BP in the taurine-treated patients decreased an average of 4 mm Hg compared with 1 mm Hg in the placebo-treated subjects. Taurine supplementation resulted in a significant decrease in plasma epinephrine but not norepinephrine levels. Individuals with hypertension tend to have higher epinephrine compared to people with normal blood pressure. [41] Research shows taurine relaxes blood vessels by enhancing endorphin production, resulting in lowered blood pressure. [42,43]

    I take 6 grams per day … yay … good for the eyes too… For and extensive review of Taurine google this article … “The Forgotten Longevity Benefits of Taurine” the paper is backed by scientific papers

  • AG

    No disrespect to the Dr who wrote this, but I would agree with another poster, please learn how to write an article. The title is very misleading. No dangers of taurine are mentioned in the article, but the alarming title makes you think that taurine is some evil chemical. All the dangers mentioned are for sugar and caffeine and this is not news to anyone. If the research shows that high amount of taurine has no harmful effect why you are recommending daily allotment of not more than 500 mg? Talking about pulling numbers out of you know what. This page is number one hit on Google for keywords ‘taurine caffeine’. Please show some responsibility in what you share with others.

  • Worried

    I work a small business and one employee drinks an average of six of the one that gives you wings per shift, then takes one for the ride home. My observation of her is that of a type of speed. She cannot be still. She sweats even from her face. She has great personal outward appearance but, I’m worried about the possible heart problems that may come with the ever so popular energy drinks. Anything I should be aware of, or possible warning signs to look for?

  • DoubtingThomas

    Six in ONE shift?? That’s insane and ridiculously unhealthy, and probably dangerous, for at least two dozen reasons. What is her reasoning? She needs to cool it. Yes, you are right, it is like speed. Sounds like she’s already exhibiting warning signs. Can’t stand still, sweating while at rest… this is behavior she needs to change immediately. Less energy drinks, more water.

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