Taurine, or 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid, is an organic acid that is abundant in muscle tissue. Taurine is also found in plants, fungi, and some bacterial species, but at lower levels; is also a derivative of the sulfur-containing (sulfhydryl) amino acid, cysteine.
It is often called an amino acid, even in scientific literature, but it lacks a carboxyl group and therefore does not qualify as an amino acid in biochemical terminology. It does contain a sulfonate group and may be called an amino sulfonic acid. Taurine in the pharmaceutical and lab setting is synthesized through a combination of cysteine, methionine and vitamin E.
Use in the Body:
Prematurely born infants who lack the enzymes needed to convert cystathionine to cysteine may become deficient in taurine. Thus, taurine is a dietary essential nutrient in these individuals and is often added to many infant formulas as a measure of prudence. There is also evidence that taurine in adult humans reduces blood pressure.
Recent studies show that taurine supplements taken by mice on a high-fat diet prevented them from becoming overweight. Recent studies have also shown that taurine can influence (and possibly reverse) nerve blood flow; in addition it has also been shown in to decrease weight and decrease blood sugar.
Taurine is often used in combination with bodybuilding supplements such as creatine and arginine; partly due to recent findings in mice that taurine alleviates muscle fatigue in strenuous workouts and raises exercise capacity. Taurine can act similarly to creatine in that it expands your cells by helping the muscle cell itself hold more water, increasing cell volume. For a lifter or bodybuilder, this is significant because expanded muscle cells can boost hydration resulting in a higher rate of protein synthesis and bodybuilders will appreciate the increased appearance of muscle fullness.