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February 1, 2002
A Bullish Amino Acid
By Anthony Almada, MS
What amino acid was first found in the gallbladder of a bull and shares its name with an astrological sign? Taurine, like those Taureans, is tough. It's also the active ingredient in the popular beverage, Red Bull, and is available in other natural beverages. Taurine is a veritable smorgasbord of sterling qualities. It's an antioxidant, detoxifier, and acts to regulate potassium and calcium levels and to stabilize cell membranes.
In animal studies, taurine concentrations in the blood and several organs (including the brain) decline with age and are associated with cumulative free radical assault. Fortunately, this decrease can be partly corrected by supplementation.
Taurine appears to be particularly beneficial to the heart and blood vessels. Taking from 3 to 6 grams a day can lower blood pressure. Over the long run, it can improve heart function in those with congestive heart failure. The two grams of taurine delivered in two cans of Red Bull also appear to help alleviate the mental fogginess caused by physical fatigue and to improve heart performance during and after exercise. Taurine alone was not systematically tested.
Nutrition and exercise biochemist Anthony Almada, MS, has collaborated on more than 45 university-based studies, is co-founder of Experimental and Applied Sciences (EAS), and founder and chief scientific officer of IMAGINutrition (www.imaginutrition.com).
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