Taurine. Chances are you've never heard of it. And if you have, chances are much of what you've heard is either not true or only partially true.
For example, yes, it's used in energy drinks such as Red Bull, and yes, its name is based on the zodiac name for bull, Taurus. But NO, taurine doesn't come from any part of a bull, let alone bull urine or semen. That's just Fake News.
And yes, as befits being a common ingredient in sports and energy drinks, taurine does stimulate muscles and improves performance in athletes. But NO, that's not its only function or benefit. Taking taurine at bedtime can also act as a sleep aid, providing relaxing sedative effects that help you fall asleep naturally.
Taurine, the "wonder molecule" for sleep
Taurine is a multi-talented nutrient. It's like the "Renaissance Man" of dietary supplements, with so many benefits that when you read about them you'll start to wonder how you ever did without it. In this article we'll present a number of those benefits, including its ability to help you get the healthy sleep you need.
What is taurine?
Taurine (2-aminoethanesulfonic acid) is an organic compound that is widely found in the human body. It is considered a conditional amino acid because it can be manufactured by the body (as opposed to an essential amino acid, which can be provided only by diet or supplements).
Taurine has many fundamental biological roles, and is essential for cardiovascular function and the development of skeletal muscle, the retina, and the central nervous system. It's a naturally-occurring substance and is found in fish, meat, dairy products, and mother's milk.
Historically, it was first isolated in 1827 from ox bile, which may help to explain its name and the enduring "made from bulls" myths.
Myths and misconceptions about taurine
As mentioned before, taurine is NOT made from bull semen. That's a myth. It probably came about because of the composition of taurine’s name — “taur” being a Greek/Latin for bull.
It's also not one of the "bad" ingredients in energy drinks - that's mainly the caffeine and sugar. The taurine in energy drinks is synthetic (made in the lab) and there isn’t enough of it in the drinks to have any beneficial effect. This is not to say that energy drinks are safe, however, because they often contain other ingredients that can be harmful, especially to sleep.
The truth about taurine
Having dealt with a couple of misconceptions about what taurine isn’t we should spend a little time discussing what it is.
Taken as a supplement, taurine is completely safe and has many benefits. They include helping to keep your heart healthy, working in the body as an antioxidant, helping to stimulate the muscles to improve athletic performance, improving mental functioning, and providing relaxing, sedative effects that can help you get to sleep or even treat some neurological disorders.
Health benefits of taurine – a remarkably wide range
Clinical studies have shown that supplemental taurine has many verifiable benefits:
- It improves athletic performance, increasing both endurance and strength.
- It may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
- It may help to increase the growth of brain cells, and thus decrease side effects of Parkinson's disease.
- May help to treat metabolic syndrome. Researchers have found that taurine reduces triglycerides to prevent obesity, improves insulin resistance to regulate the metabolism of glucose, lowers cholesterol, and reduces blood pressure.
- Taurine is an antioxidant, so it can help to fight free radicals and prevent inflammation. Studies have shown it can help to heal periodontal disease.
- It may help to prevent congestive heart failure and liver disease (hepatitis).
- In diabetics, taurine may improve blood sugar control.
How taurine can help combat insomnia and improve your sleep
Taurine is one of many naturally-occurring compounds in the body that, like melatonin, increase in response to prolonged periods of being awake. Biochemically, taurine activates GABA(A) receptors in a brain region known to regulate sleep, and it is involved in the creation of the "sleep hormone" melatonin in the pineal gland.
Early research shows that taurine – especially if combined or "stacked" with other ingredients – acts as a neural sedative to calm anxiety and lessen reactivity to stress. It can also help to resolve depression, which is often a factor that leads to insomnia and other sleep disorders.
What you need to know about taurine supplements
Taurine is considered completely safe when taken as a supplement. Research studies have not identified any common side effects to date.
Here at Utmost Me, we have used taurine in the development of our natural sleep supplement: Neuro Rest. Neuro Rest aids the three stages of sleep: falling asleep, quality sleep and feeling wakeful and refreshed the next day.
Our Neuro Rest customers vouch for its effectiveness as a sleep aid - 98% would recommend to a friend, 97% report that they slept better, 77% report that they were able to fall asleep faster, and 78% report that they wake up during the night less frequently.
Neuro Rest's secret is its synergistic blend of ingredients
One of the reasons Neuro Rest is so successful at combating insomnia is that it doesn't contain only taurine. It also contains other ingredients that work together synergistically to reduce anxiety and promote better sleep.
For example, Neuro Rest contains our exclusive Melo-Fruit® combination, a blend of Montmorency cherry, grape skin and watermelon extracts. This synergistic combination provides several different natural sources of melatonin, the compound that regulates sleep cycles and that signals the body that it is time to sleep.
In addition, the ingredients in our Mental Wellbeing Blend (in which taurine is combined with chamomile and biotin) have been shown to help you more easily "switch off" at the end of the day so that you can enjoy a good night's rest.
Recommended dosages and possible side effects
The standard recommended dosage of Neuro Rest is one or two 200mg tablets, taken orally before bedtime.