Taurine is a naturally occurring sulfonic acid. It is generally referred to as an amino acid, and though this is not true in the strictest sense of the term, an explanation of this misclassification would, in the present writer’s opinion, be tedious and irrelevant here. Taurine was first discovered as a constituent of ox bile in 1827; hence it’s nomenclatural similarity to taurus, the Latin word for bull or ox. Nevertheless, taurine is an important substance, being involved as it is in the functioning of skeletal muscles, the cardiovascular system, the retina, the central nervous system, and other vital bodily systems.
Taurine is frequently included in energy drinks, but the reason for this inclusion is bemusing; human bodies naturally synthesize taurine, and the acid does not seem to have any noticeable effects on energy or stamina. Taurine supplements also abound, and it is with this abundance that the present article is chiefly concerned.
Taurine supplements are used for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, diabetes, eye problems, hepatitis, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, ADHD, autism, and alcoholism. Not all of these uses have been scientifically proven to be effective, but some studies indicate that taurine improves the function of the heart’s left ventricle and may improve heart failure. It may also help calm the sympathetic nervous system, which is chiefly responsible for responding to stress.
This may explain taurine’s aforementioned inclusion in many energy drinks, but scientists are still uncertain about taurine’s exact role in reducing bodily stress. On a somewhat related note, cats’ bodies are incapable of synthesizing taurine; inadequate taurine ingestion can, for them, lead to permanent blindness. But humans naturally produce plenty of taurine; supplemental taurine is generally used in the hopes that it will alleviate other health conditions.