Bodybuilders are the ones who are mostly plagued by questions regarding taurine's long-term effects. Taurine is helpful to bodybuilding enthusiasts, as it increases the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a gas produced every time the muscle contracts and the blood vessel enlarges. Taurine helps widen the blood vessels, thereby increasing the blood flow to the muscle cells. It increases the efficiency of rigorous workout sessions and ameliorates the overall performance. However, the chronic use of these supplements spearheads worries about its side effects.
Should I Be Worried?
Although there is no stipulated dosage of taurine, the daily dosage recommended by most doctors is about 2 to 3g. As of today, there are no known horrendous side effects of taurine supplements. When ingested in appropriate amounts, taurine is considered considerably safe for children and adults. Taurine is given to even formula-fed babies. In studies, lasting up to one year on adults, no particular negative effects were revealed. Excess taurine taken into the body is excreted via the kidneys, so it's not something to be worried about.
However, one case was reported where a bodybuilder consumed 14g of taurine, along with insulin and anabolic steroids and suffered brain damage. We still do not know if the brain damage was conduced by taurine or some other drugs he had taken. Nevertheless, make sure you never take taurine supplements or change the recommended dosage prescribed, without consulting your doctor. It is essential to make a note of the body weight, body type and body ailments such as asthma, heart diseases, cancer, arthritis, etc. before starting the use of any supplements. People allergic to food, dyes or preservatives should keep away from taurine supplements, because there are chances of allergy aggravation.
What about its effect on Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women?
Although no adverse effects have been noted after intake of these supplements, pregnant and breastfeeding women are still advised to refrain from them. In fact, because there is not much known about its risks and toxicity during pregnancy, it is better to avoid intake of these supplements. Better safe than sorry! Taurine is naturally produced in the body, so it's not something we have to be very worried about. Moreover, breastfeeding women following a healthy diet inclusive of meat, eggs and fish get the required amounts of taurine. Thus, they do not need to take supplements. Babies have not yet developed the ability to produce taurine, which is why they have to consume it in their diet. Breastfed babies get the required amounts of taurine from the mother's milk. Formula-fed babies, on the other hand are given taurine in their formula milk.
Taurine and Bipolar Disorder
Some studies reveal that taurine can aggravate bipolar disorder. One 36 year old man with adequately controlled bipolar disorder exhibited symptoms of mania, after gulping down several cans of energy drink over a period of 4 days. Whether the erupted symptoms were side effects of taurine in energy drinks or were the negative effect of inositol, caffeine or other ingredients in the energy drink, is still a mystery. Side effects of taurine in energy drinks has still not been studied in depth, so it is difficult to say anything in this matter.
People taking taurine supplements need to be wary about the bottles in which the supplements come. The information provided on the label may not always be a reflection of what is inside. Some taurine supplements have been found with heavy metal contaminants or prescription drugs. These contaminants are present in larger concentrations than mentioned on the label. We do not know what kind of deleterious effects such contaminants can cause, which is why it is important to purchase the supplements from trusted and reputable manufacturers. Pharmacists are good sources for obtaining information regarding reputable manufacturers.
More about Taurine
Taurine, a conditional amino acid (made by the body itself), is present in large amounts in the heart, brain, retina and blood platelets. It is required for building up of proteins and plays an important role in the proper functioning of the eye. It also helps in sperm motility, blood platelet activity and insulin activity. Taurine helps in nervous system regulation, bile formation, blood pressure regulation, treatment of hepatitis, cystic fibrosis, hypertension and congestive heart failure. Some other uses of taurine are in treatment of seizure disorders, autism, ADHD and retina disorders. For most people, adequate amount of taurine is prepared by the body itself. A person requires extra taurine during times of physical exertion, illness or injury. Moreover, people who are fed via tubes also need taurine supplementation. Taurine is available in large amounts in protein-rich foods like eggs, meat and fish. It is also present in the form of dietary supplements and in energy drinks.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.