Ever since energy drink producers introduced the supposedly awesome new taurine, something that they claim to enhance your energy levels even more, people have been very curious about what it is. And where there is blind curiosity, there are rumors.
It is the case with most popular substances. And, when energy drinks, like Red Bull started enjoying widespread popularity, its ingredients started coming under scrutiny. And the one ingredient, which piqued a lot of people, was this thing known as ‘taurine’. It is apparently the active ingredient in energy drinks, so the curiosity it inspires is quite natural. And with all the rumors flying around (the most ridiculous one, which I’ve heard of is that, it is the ‘semen’ of the bull) it’s quite essential to clarify what taurine actually is.
Uncovering The Truth
It’s funny how rumors spread. Taurine… taurus… bull… bull’s sperm? Quite a laughable connection. While this logic stays true only till ‘bull’, I’d like to dispel this crazy assumption, that taurine is the reproductive fluid of a bull!
Taurine is one of the non-essential amino acids found in nature. Technically speaking, it is an aminoethanesulfonic acid, which is a type of amino acid containing sulfur. While you find that there are several sources of taurine, the first substance to be isolated, researched, and labeled ‘taurine’, was derived from the bile of an ox. And, as the ox belongs to the bovine animal family (an ox is a castrated bull), the substance derived from its bile is necessarily ‘taurine’ substance, and hence aptly known as ‘taurine’.
It’s not very clear how this amino acid affects the energy levels in the body. There is no evidence, which proves the direct relation between the consumption of this amino acid, and increased levels of energy. Moreover, it might have just been what is known as the ‘placebo effect’. It is said that after exercise, the taurine levels in the human body (yes, the human body contains it too) get drastically reduced. And consuming an energy drink would help replenish the taurine levels in the body.
Is this amino acid similar to caffeine? Not quite. Unlike caffeine, it isn’t a stimulant external to the body, but is very much like something that already exists in the human body. However, some studies suggest that, if this amino acid and caffeine are mixed, it may result, not only in better physical performance, but also in improved mental alertness. This is why, energy drinks do not include taurine alone, but also a good amount of caffeine. So, for all you know, it might just be the caffeine, which stirs you up, and not the taurine!
Energy Drinks Side Effects
There aren’t many side-effects of consuming taurine in isolation, however, it is always better to check with the doctor before consuming it in the form of supplements. Energy drinks are a different matter altogether because of the presence of caffeine. Hence, all the ill-effects of caffeine will rub off on the energy drinks. There have been reports of death after consuming energy drinks.
People, who drink too much of an energy drink, face caffeine-consumption problems, like, irritability and anxiety. Energy drinks are also diuretics, hence there are chances of dehydration after consuming them. Due to the caffeine content, energy drinks are also not advised for pregnant and breastfeeding women. There are also reports that the products of a certain energy drink sold in Germany had traces of cocaine in it.
Taurine is a naturally derived substance, which is also present in the human body, so its amount in energy drinks isn’t so much that it will affect the body in any adverse way. But still, before you consume any supplements, it is better to check with the doctor and your pharmacist for the quantity of taurine in the supplement and the recommended dosage.