Taurine is an amino acid that can be used to boost athletic performance and cognitive function.
It’s also found in many pre-workout drinks.
Unlike many other amino acids, it is not used to build muscle tissue; instead, it appears to be used to regulate the energy production process, both in your muscles and in your brain.
It’s a safe and effective way to increase physical and mental performance across the board and seems to work well both for athletes in great shape and for people with chronic disease.
If you want to get the most out of your body and your mind, check out our taurine supplement reviews. We’ve ranked the best taurine supplements currently on the market.
1. TransparentLabs RawSeries Taurine
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Throw away your energy drinks. With Transparent Labs RawSeries Taurine, you won’t need them.
With 2,000 mg of 100% pure taurine per serving, you get double the results, which are nothing to sneeze at. Things like improved cardiovascular health, insulin sensitivity, electrolyte balance, weight loss, and glucose control. And let’s not forget its pre-workout properties and support for higher performance and mental clarity.
No additional ingredients. No artificial sweeteners or coloring. No artificial preservatives. Gluten-free and non-GMO.
The all-around taurine winner of 2020.
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2. NOW Double Strength Taurine
NOW Double Strength Taurine has 1000 mg of pure taurine in each capsule, and the capsules are made from a vegan-friendly vegetable cellulose blend.
The supplement is pretty clean, with only stearic acid added to bind the capsule together. It’s a good solution if you want a high-dose capsule-based taurine supplement for an energy and performance boost when you’re out and about.
3. Pure Encapsulations Taurine
Pure Encapsulations is one of the best solutions when it comes to a moderate dose taurine supplement. With a vegetable cellulose capsule and 500 mg of taurine in each serving, it’s well-suited for anyone who wants the benefits of taurine in a more manageable dosage.
While there’s nothing wrong with a higher dose, shorter, lighter, and smaller-framed people likely don’t need as much taurine to get the optimal effects.
4. BulkSupplements Pure Taurine Powder
BulkSupplements is the perfect choice if you are making your own energy drink blend, or if you want to customize a pre-workout supplement to amp up your workout.
Powder is never as convenient as a capsule, because you’ll need a micro-scale if you want precise dosages. With taurine, though, where the active dosage is fairly large (circa one gram) and there are no real problems with going over the optimal dosage, this is less of an issue.
BulkSupplements should be the top choice for anyone who wants to mix taurine with other ingredients, as this supplement is 100% pure—there are zero additional ingredients.
5. Thorne Research Taurine
Thorne Research is known for their minimal and pure supplement designs, and that’s definitely what they deliver here.
The vegetable cellulose capsules have 500 mg of taurine each, plus a bit of silicon dioxide to prevent clumping. This last ingredient isn’t popular among the strictest supplement purists, but just about everyone else can be happy with this taurine supplement.
6. Amazing Formulas Taurine
At 1000 mg per capsule, Amazing Formulas has a simple and high-dose taurine supplement. While the animal-based gelatin capsule won’t make strict vegetarians happy, just about everyone else who is looking for a high dosage taurine capsule will be pleased with the simple and straightforward design.
7. Solgar Taurine
Solgar makes basic supplements with no frills or unnecessary additives. This definitely applies to their taurine supplement.
It has 500 mg of taurine per capsule, using vegetable cellulose as the capsule material and with vegetable derived stearic acid as a binder. It’s a pure and reliable supplement if you are looking for a lower dose of taurine.
8. Nutricost Taurine Powder
Nutricost makes a bulk powder form of taurine, but compared to other options on the market, it comes in a smaller size, making it less convenient for DIY energy drink mixers and others who want to make their own blends.
The one advantage it does have is that it comes in a plastic tub, which is slightly less messy than a resealable plastic bag.
9. Best Naturals 100% Pure Taurine Powder
Best Naturals makes a powder-form taurine powder, though this brand is not as well-established as some of the other powder-based manufacturers.
On the other hand, this powder does come in a large plastic tub versus the resealable bag used by some of its competitors, and each tub contains a whole pound of taurine, making it a good choice for bulk users.
10. Nutricost Taurine
Nutricost also makes a capsule-based taurine supplement, which has 1000 mg per serving. This high-dose taurine supplement uses a gelatin capsule, making it a poor candidate for vegetarians and vegans, but the fact that it doesn’t include any other ingredients aside from taurine and gelatin do make it attractive for purists.
11. GNC Taurine
GNC Taurine doesn’t quite match up to the best competitors, as its dosage is on the low end and it doesn’t have any real defining features that set it apart.
It’s got a few additional binders and additives you won’t find in other supplements, which end up putting it lower down in the rankings.
Who Should Buy Taurine?
Taurine is safe for all persons and is especially beneficial for those looking to improve exercise performance, endurance, and recovery from intense training sessions.
Taurine is also great for individuals who need an all-natural calming agent since it helps to depress and relax the nervous system.
How We Ranked
When looking at various taurine supplements, we first considered the delivery method. One of the most popular ways to get taurine is through energy drinks, and while this can be beneficial, energy drinks often come with a lot of unwanted and dangerous side effects. Furthermore, taurine tends to be diluted in energy drinks and packed with tons of artificial sweeteners and chemicals, furthering the problem. As such, we axed all taurine energy drink products and only included 100% pure taurine supplements like GNC Taurine and Thorne Research Taurine capsules.
Regarding purity, we preferred the products that made our list, like Transparent Labs, to be gluten and GMO-free and contain no additional ingredients, sweeteners, coloring, or preservatives. The recommended dosage of taurine is around 1-3g, so all products fell in that range per serving. We did, however, reward products on the lower end of that range, like Nutricost, because it allowed for more custom dosing based on the persons’ needs and goals.
Taurine can come in a variety of forms, but the two main ones are powder and capsules. We preferred powders, like Transparent Labs, because there was less processing involved. When ranking various capsule supplements, we preferred capsules that were gelatine free, like NOW, as to fit a variety of diet and lifestyles.
Taurine benefits and side effects
Taurine, a naturally-occurring amino acid, is an effective supplement for boosting your performance at both physical and mental tasks.
It’s often used by athletes to increase power, speed, and fatigue resistance, and it’s often found in energy drinks because of its across-the-board benefit for both cognitive and physical performance.
While most amino acids are used by your body to build muscle tissue, taurine is different. It appears to play a role in the regulation of energy production, and in the bloodstream, it’s one of the rare compounds that can cross the blood-brain barrier, which is likely what allows it to create the cognitive benefits it is known for.
Taurine, especially when combined with caffeine, can boost physical performance in endurance events. Research on the effects of taurine on exercise performance has mostly focused on using taurine in conjunction with caffeine, as this is the combination of biologically active compounds found most often in energy drinks.
Research published in the journal Amino Acids found that this combination leads to improved performance in endurance events (1).
In this study, researchers took ten cyclists and supplied them with either a taurine/caffeine supplement or a placebo 30 min prior to a cycling time trial.
The results demonstrated that the taurine and caffeine in combination improved endurance performance, and this improvement was associated with a change in hormone levels.
Since this hormonal change is not associated with caffeine alone, it suggests that taurine itself is responsible for a large part of the improvement in performance.
A taurine supplement can improve cognitive performance. In a rare study that isolated the effects of individual ingredients in energy drinks, researchers at Tufts University examined how taurine affects performance on cognitive ability tests (2).
Taurine appeared to improve cognitive performance specifically on choice-reaction tests, where you must quickly make a decision when presented with many different options. Like with physical performance, taurine’s cognitive effects appear to be enhanced when used alongside caffeine.
A study published by researchers at the University of Vienna in Austria studied the cognitive and emotional effects of a taurine and caffeine energy drink on ten subjects (3).
After administering an energy drink or a placebo drink, the subjects performed a battery of cognitive tests and completed a mood evaluation. The results showed that the energy drink increased mental performance and resulted in an overall boost in mood.
The researchers noted that half of the subjects were not regular caffeine users, and thus these results couldn’t be explained by simple caffeine withdrawal in the placebo group.
Taurine can improve exercise capacity in people with heart failure. The performance benefits of taurine are not just for elite athletes. An entire branch of the research on the supplemental use of taurine is focused on its benefits for people with heart failure and other chronic health problems.
Physician-supervised exercise is a proven, evidence-based treatment for chronic heart failure, but as you might guess, people whose hearts are already not working very well have a difficult time performing much in the way of physical exercise (4).
This is where taurine comes in. Its energetic benefits to muscle appear to extend to the heart as well (which is, after all, just another muscle). A study published in the Journal of Cardiology in 2011 examined how taurine could help patients with heart failure (5).
Twenty-nine patients were split into either a taurine group which took a 500 mg taurine supplement three times per day, or a placebo group who received an inert supplement. All of the subjects performed an exercise tolerance test before and after two weeks of taurine supplementation.
The researchers found that the taurine supplement increased exercise tolerance, while the placebo group had no significant change in their exercise tolerance levels. Under the supervision of your doctor, a taurine supplement taken three times per day could improve your ability to exercise if you have heart failure.
Taurine may reduce anxiety. One problem with some stimulants that increase mental and physical performance is that they can make you jittery and anxious.
Taurine, on the other hand, may have a soothing and anxiety-relieving effect. So far, research has been limited to animal studies, but the initial results are promising.
A 2006 paper in the journal Psychopharmacology, Biochemistry, and Behavior by researchers in China tested several doses of taurine on mice exposed to three different anxiety-inducing tests (5).
The results from all three tests showed that taurine caused a reducing in anxiety-related behavior, leading the authors to hypothesize that taurine reduces anxiety by mediating the response of the central nervous system when exposed to anxiety-inducing situations.
As with other amino acids that occur naturally in foods, taurine appears to be completely safe, even at very high doses.
A risk assessment published by the Washington, DC–based Counsel on Responsible Nutrition in the journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology affirmed that even very high doses of three grams per day appear to pose no risk of adverse effects (6).
The European Food Safety Authority went even further, asserting that no negative effects can be expected for up to one gram per kilogram of body mass, which would be an enormous dose (7).
Both of these reports suggest even at high intake levels of taurine, you don’t need to worry about adverse effects.
In the scientific research, optimal results have been achieved for physical and mental performance with a dosage of 1000 mg of taurine.
This is usually administered 30 minutes prior to either a cognitive or physical test of ability. Medical literature usually uses a dose of 500 mg of taurine taken three times per day, morning, afternoon, and at night. This will keep taurine levels higher throughout the day, which will help you stay alert and ready to perform throughout the day.
If your goal is simply to perform at one specific time, a larger dose taken half an hour out looks to be the best strategy.
As noted earlier, there doesn’t seem to be any harm in higher doses of taurine, but there isn’t any evidence for benefits on the far side of 1500 mg per day.
What is taurine? Taurine is an amino acid that the body can naturally produce on its own. Amino acids are usually referred to as the “building blocks” of protein and are essential in maintaining and developing all aspects of the human body. Like all amino acids, taurine has its own specific functions within the body, which include supporting antioxidants, your metabolism, and reducing cellular waste.
Why is taurine in energy drinks? Taurine is a major ingredient included in energy drinks because many scientists have theorized that taurine is connected to improved physical performance and heart health. However, to date, there is no scientific evidence to prove this. In fact, taurine is known to calm the body and nervous system. Since caffeine can cause jitteriness and anxiety, taurine pairs perfectly to offset these negative reactions and allow energy drinks to provide smooth and clean energy.
Is taurine a stimulant? Though taurine is often combined with caffeine in the production of energy drinks and pre-workout powders, the effects of taurine are more comparable to nervous system depressants rather than stimulants. Taurine does not provide energy or boost the central nervous system, and actually helps to calm the central nervous system. This is the opposite of the typical results of consuming stimulants, which are known to increase central nervous system functioning and provide energy to consumers.
Which foods are high in taurine? Taurine is naturally found and produced in the body in smaller amounts, but it is also found in many foods and drink products available on the market. Taurine is found in relatively high amounts in some seafood, especially shellfish. In addition, taurine has also been discovered in many animal products like eggs, milk, and animal meat.
Does taurine raise blood pressure? No, taurine actually helps to lower blood pressure levels in those who consume it, most likely because taurine is similar to depressants, which relaxes the central nervous system. Some medical professionals have begun prescribing taurine supplements to their patients as a way to decrease blood pressure and promote heart health.
How long does taurine stay in the body? Because taurine is naturally produced by the body, it is difficult to determine how long taurine actually stays in the body. Essentially, taurine will always be in the body if the body is functioning and producing the amino acid properly.
What are the health benefits of taurine? The most important role that taurine plays in the body is assisting with metabolism and digestion. Taurine is known to aid the body in the development of bile salts, which are ultimately used by the body to metabolize fats within the digestive system and thus can decrease the acquisition of body fat.
Some studies also note a connection between heart health and taurine consumption, as taurine has been connected to a decrease in cholesterol levels and an increase of positive heart functioning. Additionally, like many amino acids, taurine plays a role in muscle maintenance and development. The effects that taurine has on the heart and muscles can result in improved athletic performance and focus during workouts. Taurine also has been shown to improve mental focus, making it a powerful pre-workout agent.
Can taurine cause depression? One particular study determined that taurine consumption did not directly affect a person’s likelihood of developing depression, though the study suggested further testing be done to determine if there is a correlation between the two (8).
Can taurine treat skin irritation? Studies show that taurine, in combination with aloe vera extracts, can be used to treat skin irritation (9).
What are the long-term effects of taurine? When consumed in proper doses, taurine has no long term negative effects on the body. When combined with large amounts of stimulants such as caffeine, long term problems like cardiovascular issues, such as chest pain, increased blood pressure, and even death, can occur. Some studies also suggest that energy drinks may have long-term effects on blood vessels and the remainder of the circulatory system. That being said, taurine alone is not causing these issues and, therefore, is considered safe to consume within moderation.
What are the negative effects of taurine? Some recent studies have tested the effects of taurine on certain populations and have noted negative effects on the body and development. One particular study examined the effects of energy drinks, including caffeine and taurine, on the development of adolescent brains. The results showed that such energy drinks are not beneficial to teenagers and may, in fact, harm their brain development if these drinks are consumed consistently and in large amounts. Overall, there are very few, if any, studies that show that taurine has negative effects on the body when consumed in recommended amounts on its own (10).
Is taurine vegan? Taurine can be vegan, depending on its source. Taurine is found in animal products, particularly meat and dairy products, and therefore that method of taurine consumption is not vegan. However, the body naturally produces taurine and taurine can also be produced synthetically, both of which are vegan methods of receiving taurine. Generally, the taurine found in energy drinks is produced synthetically, and thus considered vegan-friendly.
Is taurine bad for your kidneys? Taurine is an important amino acid that plays a significant role in kidney functioning. Oftentimes, taurine is administered to those with kidney disease or decreased kidney functioning to improve their functioning. Taurine has even been prescribed as a treatment method for those suffering from diabetic nephropathy, which affects the kidneys (11).
Does taurine keep you awake? Because taurine is considered more of a depressant rather than a stimulant, there should be no issues with taurine itself, keeping you awake at night. However, if you consumed energy drinks containing taurine, throughout the day or before bed, the stimulants in the drink will likely make it more difficult to fall or stay asleep at night.
What is the difference between taurine and caffeine? Taurine and caffeine very different in a variety of ways. For one, taurine is more of a depressant, while caffeine is a known stimulant. This means that taurine reduces central nervous system functioning while caffeine stimulates the nervous system. While caffeine is included in energy drinks to boost a person’s energy levels, taurine is included to enhance the focus of the individual consuming the drink. The sources of both of these substances are very different, with taurine coming from meats and other animal products, while caffeine is a substance found in some species of plants.
Does taurine help you lose weight? Due to the effects that taurine has on the body, supplementing with taurine may improve focus during exercise and thus produce weight loss benefits. Additionally, taurine supplementation improves heart health and boosts the metabolism of fat within the digestive system. Some studies have proven a connection between taurine and weight loss when used consistently at a recommended dosage (12).
Why does taurine give you energy? Taurine itself does not provide energy, but it has been linked to improved focus in those consuming the product.
Is it true that taurine comes from bull sperm? The major reason people believe that energy drinks like Red Bull get their taurine content from bull sperm is that, in the past, this was possibly a source of taurine used for energy drinks.
Why do cats need taurine? Taurine is one of the most concentrated amino acids found in cat food. While humans usually supplement taurine to gain additional health benefits, cats require taurine to function at an appropriate level. Taurine helps cat’s to maintain proper vision, heart function, and support the proper development of unborn kittens in pregnant female cats. To make this easier, most dry and wet cat foods provide some level of taurine in their ingredient list.
Can excess taurine cause heart attacks? There is some concern that excess intake of taurine can affect the heart negatively, but these claims are not currently backed by research. Many studies conducted have shown a link between taurine supplementation and reduced risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, not a casuality of heart attacks. In fact, some research has suggested that taurine can be used as a treatment of sorts for those with debilitating conditions like congestive heart failure.
How much taurine do you need per day? For the average person, a taurine intake of between 500 and 2000 milligrams per day is considered normal and beneficial. Though these are the recommended intake levels, there is evidence that consuming well over 3000 milligrams of taurine per day can provide health benefits without risking consequences or toxicity. Unless you are intentionally supplementing with taurine, there should be no concerns related to taurine toxicity.
How much taurine is in energy drinks? On average, one 8 ounce energy drink will contain about one gram of taurine.
Is taurine bad for working out? No, taurine is not bad for working out.
Taurine itself is an amino acid, which the body requires to maintain and build cells within the body. You might notice that your pre-workout powder (or other exercise supplements) includes taurine as a major ingredient. Taurine has been shown to improve focus and endurance during rigorous physical activity.
Taurine is a safe and effective amino acid supplement that can be used to boost physical performance, improve cognitive performance, elevate your mood, and reduce anxiety.
Research has found it useful both for athletes and for people with chronic health problems like heart failure. It appears to carry no side effects, even at very high doses.
For physical and mental performance, it appears to work best when combined with caffeine, but even without, its benefits span a wide range of categories, making it a good candidate for a safe and easy way to perform and feel better.