From Ergo Log
Supplements manufacturers sometimes promote taurine as a substance that helps strength athletes to train more intensively. According to an ex-vivo study that sports scientists at Victoria University in Australia published in the Journal of Applied Physiology the supplements manufacturers are not just making this up. Taurine supplementation does indeed strengthen muscles.
Muscle cells, heart cells and the testes contain large amounts of taurine, and it seems that taurine has important functions in these cells. Experiments have shown that taurine supplementation boosts endurance capacity, the functioning of the heart muscle [Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2008 Dec;18(10):691-9.] and testosterone production. An overview of our postings on taurine can be found here.
The researchers gave male rats taurine for two consecutive weeks. They added the substance to the animals' drinking water and as a result the amount of taurine in their muscles increased by 40 percent.
Athletes who use taurine will not experience such a big increase in such a short time; they would need to take taurine for longer. The dose that the Australians gave their animals was in human terms on the high side. The human equivalent of this dose would be in the region of several tens of grams per day.
At the end of the two weeks, the researchers subjected muscles in the rats' paws to electrical stimuli and measured how strongly the muscles were able to contract. Compared with the muscles in a control group, which had not been given taurine, supplementation with taurine boosted the isometric twitch force by 19 percent, they discovered.
When the researchers got the muscles to contract for long periods of time, they observed that taurine delayed the decrease in strength. The figure above shows this.
The figure below probably reveals how taurine supplementation helps muscles to contract more intensively. It boosts the amount of the protein calsequestrin [structure shown here] in the muscle cells.
Calsequestrin is involved in calcium transport in cells. As muscle cells contract they need to pump calcium ions in and out of the parts that contract. Because taurine boosts the calsequestrin concentration, pumping the calcium ions is apparently easier.
"Our results point to a potential ergogenic effect of raising muscle taurine content with oral supplementation", the researchers write. "Further work is required to investigate the mechanism of taurine's action and whether similar results can be obtained in healthy and diseased human populations."
J Appl Physiol (1985). 2009 Jul;107(1):144-54.