From Ergo Log
Taurine supplementation improves the body’s insulin and glucose metabolism, physiologists from the State University of Campinas report in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. In mice, taurine boosts the secretion of insulin and boosts the sensitivity of the insulin receptor in muscles. Taurine may be even more interesting for athletes than we already thought.
At first sight it looks as though the Brazilian study is only of interest as a piece of fundamental research. The researchers gave their lab animals taurine in their food in such large quantities that the human equivalent would be an irresponsibly high amount: 20-22 g taurine per day. But the researchers also did experiments in which they examined the effects of much lower doses of taurine on the insulin metabolism.
The figure below shows the effect of intravenous administration of glucose on glucose levels. Black circles/squares: mice given exorbitant quantities of taurine in their food. White circles/squares: mice given feed containing no taurine.
In the figure on the left the mice were given a single intravenous dose of glucose; in the figure on the right the mice were given a single intravenous dose of taurine and glucose.
Mice that were given taurine in their food were better able to deal with glucose than the mice that were not given taurine. What worked even better was simultaneous administration of glucose and taurine.
The amount of taurine that the researchers administered together with the glucose was not so high. If you convert the amount for an adult man weighing 80 kg you’d get 1.6 g. The oral equivalent would not be more than twice this amount.
In a similar experiment the researchers examined the effect of taurine on the functioning of the insulin receptor. The researchers gave the mice insulin, taurine or a saline solution [Sal], and then monitored the activity of the insulin receptor. Below left: the effect on the insulin receptor in the muscles. Below right: the effect on the receptor in the liver.
The taurine dose was about the same as in the previously described experiment.
Taurine may well be an interesting substance for athletes wanting to pump more glucose into their muscles during training or competitions. Endurance athletes may perform better in this way and recover faster.
One problem is the timing. Taken orally, taurine is an extremely ‘slow’ nutrient in humans. If you take taurine it can take up to two hours for the compound to enter the bloodstream…
J Nutr Biochem. 2009 Jul;20(7):503-11.