Tag Archives: Taurine

Feeling Shot ByYour Energy Drink?

In recent news, reports have emerged of deaths attributed to energy shots like 5 Hour Energy, and I recently read a report that drinking more than three energy drinks per day may increase the risk of stroke and other life threatening incidents. Though it is hard to fully quantify these claims without knowing the specifics of lifestyle, family history and pre-existing health issues, it is by no means hard to believe them possible having spent years reading and researching the ingredient labels of these performance enhancers. Add to that my own personal trial usage and the claims become completely plausible. But, distinguishing the true culprit from the sometimes lengthy list of suspects is another task all together.

Caffeine and B-vitamins, energizer staples, are in and of themselves hardly hazardous in moderation. Even at their upper limits, the side effects are more easily managed and the possible damage more capable of being repaired and reversed. However when the formulators fall victim to temptation and start tossing in layers upon layers of herbs, amino acids and other ancillary nutrients, watch back! The resulting potions can be potent and seductive when we discover what we can do faster, better and longer with their assistance. I know you recall my declaration of brain buzz indulgence, and I know I am not alone. Life is demanding and the more focused and energized we are, the more confident and capable we feel. So, what’s the harm in drinking a shot or two of these enhancers, right? It’s not like they’re drugs, right? And therein lays the real question being asked by scientists and researchers. Their specific target of focus is the amino acid taurine.

Taurine is a free form amino acid naturally and easily obtained from foods like fish, meat, dairy milk, eggs and even seaweed. With the help of vitamin B6, taurine is also manufactured by the body from other amino acids cysteine and methionine. A safe daily dose of taurine is between 100 and 500 mgs per day and offers health benefits to the brain, eyes and central nervous system. Unfortunately, the amounts found in your typical energy drink can be twice this amount. Possibly even more concerning is that these drinks usually contain synthetic taurine and that combined with the large dosages can have effects on the brain and body similar to those of illicit drugs, causing an unnatural and extreme stimulation of the central nervous system followed by a hard melancholic crash in energy.

Increased blood pressure, disturbances in sleep cycles, moodiness and irritability, seizures, heart palpitations, and manic episodes are some of the reported and observed side effects of excessive taurine intake. The list only grows longer and more dangerous when use of this ingredient is combined with anabolic steroids or alcohol, as in the Red Bull & Vodka cocktail. Consequently, Switzerland and other countries are leading the way and banning taurine containing energy drinks. Although the US FDA doesn’t appear to be firmly decided, it is publicizing consumer reports of adverse reactions to the substance and my advice is to take heed. This does not necessarily mean stopping supplemental use all together, but perhaps pulling back.

  • Start reading the ingredient labels of the sports and energy drinks, checking for the amounts of taurine and caffeine as well as the number of servings in the bottle or can.
  •  Beware of the words “proprietary blend” and note that the ingredients listed first on that list are the most abundant ones.
  • Decrease daily intakes by half, reduce days of use to two per week, and take full breaks from use every four to six weeks.
  • Increase dietary intake of natural taurine according to your lifestyle and eating habits.
  • Increase the body’s production of taurine by making sure that vitamin B6 is also present in the diet.

Most importantly, tune in to your body’s reaction to these drinks pre, during and post use; and be honest with yourself regarding observations of side effects like unpleasant physical sensations, mood swings, energy fluctuations and even your own cravings for the drinks. It’s all relevant and we are all responsible. A friend of mine recently shared his professor’s view on the supplement industry as the “Wild Wild West” and there’s a lot of truth in that. So, I’ll be keeping that in mind as I venture. Til next time, be aware, be wise and…

BeWell

Resources

Break Studios, Evelyn De Matias

http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/dangers-of-taurine/

http://www.naturalnews.com/025148_taurine_benefits_body.html

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Brain Tweakers

Welcome back toCome on, Get Happy”

This week, Brain Tweakers!

As previously stated, one part of my mood enhancement regimen consists of the mental performance formula Neuro1. This is definitely one of my favorite supplements! To break it down superficially, it totally appeals to my inner science geek. It is a powdered formula that you have to shake to mix and activate, and that once activated is so energetic it literally can blow the top off of your mixer. I do not exaggerate one bit here, last Tuesday I lost my mixer’s top on the subway platform. It popped off with a bit of a bang and soared out and into the train tracks after I obviously over did it on the shaking. Needless to say, it is a sensitive and somewhat obnoxious formulation with a lot of power and energy. Stick to secure mixers with screw top closures. Also, the powder is flavored, but be forewarned; it starts sweet and finishes with a dull bitter taste. A little chase with water and you’ll be fine.

Now digging deeper,Neuro1 is a 7 gram dose per 31 gram serving size formula containing six of the mood boosting nutrients we reviewed in last week’s post – Vitamins B6 and B12, L-Tyrosine, Inositol, 5-HTP and Biotin. It also contains the caffeine equivalent of one cup of coffee, 18 grams of carbohydrates, 10 grams of sugar, 5 grams of protein, and antioxidants C, E, Selenium andZinc. Neuro1’s first five, and therefore most abundant, ingredients are Taurine, L-Tyrosine, Glucuronolactone, Magnesium Creatine Chelate and Acetyl L- Carnitine.  Since we’ve already explored L-Tyrosine, let’s delve into the other four.

  • Taurine is an amino acid commonly used in energy drinks like Red Bull and 5 Hour Energy. It is found in very high concentrations within the brain, and it is also found in the central nervous system, heart and skeletal muscles. Taurine helps electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and magnesium flow in and out of the cells. There is a possibility that it also helps combat depression.
  • Glucuronolactone is also commonly found in energy drinks and naturally produced by the body. It is present in most of our connective tissues including the tendons, ligaments and joints. It is also considered a detoxifying chemical.
  • Magnesium Creatine Chelate is a more absorbable and bioavailable form of creatine. Though naturally produced by the body, creatine is often supplemented by athletes for enhanced strength, energy, recovery and expansion of the muscles’ cell size. Creatine needs magnesium to convert to ATP, the fuel our muscles run on. Magnesium Creatine Chelate allows supplement makers to energize us without using simple sugars.
  • Acetyl L-Carnitine, also naturally produced by the body, is a substance derived from carnitine. Carnitine is related to the B-Vitamins but similar in structure to the amino acids. It is most commonly recognized for helping the body use fats for energy and is therefore a popular weight management aid. Acetyl L-Carnitine has demonstrated an anti-aging effect on the brain and nervous system and is even supplemented to delay the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

That rounds out this formulation’s heaviest hitters and they are very promising for a variety of reasons; but they are not necessarily my favorites in the mental performance category.

Those would be Huperzine A and Vinpocetine.

I love these guys just as much as I do my dear Inositol! Be aware though, these substances are quite potent and should only be supplemented in small doses- no more than 200 micrograms/day of Huperzine A and  5 milligrams/day of Vinpocetine– to avoid any possible side effects and adverse reactions with medications. Those taking blood thinners should not supplement Vinpocetine, nor should anyone with low blood pressure, seizures and/or bleeding disorders. 

Both of these nutrients are derived from plants. But Vinpocetine is a synthetic substance developed from the leaves of the Lesser Periwinkle Plant. It is believed to increase blood and oxygen flow within the brain.

Huperzine A is a highly purified and manipulated substance sourced from Chinese Club Moss. It is known to increase levels of the neurotransmitter Acetylcholine that carries information throughout the brain and body. Acetylcholine helps to quicken the speed of our thoughts and, “…juices the mind to be flexible, quick in movement, creative and innovative…to increase our intuition, language skills, and memory retention”.* Glorious! Right? But I’m sure you can see how too much can be a problem.Acetylcholine balance au natural can be achieved by eating avocados, dairy products and nuts.

Though I currently need the quick pick-me-up effects offered by powdered and liquid supplements, I’ve had great success with the pill form supplement Focus Formula. It is a simpler formulation that includes the Omega 3 fatty acid decosahexaenoic acid (DHA) that is found in large concentrations within the brain. Focus Formula takes a couple of weeks to get into the system, but once it’s in it does deliver a good mid-day kick.

Other noteworthy brain boosters include:

Alpha Lipoic Acid a potent anti-oxidant found in spinach and broccoli that allows our cells to use sugar to produce energy.
DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol) a chemical similar to choline that is involved in the process of learning and retaining information and is helpful in increasing focus and alertness. It is best to take as needed and not on a daily basis.
Ginkgo Biloba an anti-oxidant herb originating from China that is known to increase oxygen supply to the brain and blood flow to the heart, brain, and body. It continues to be studied for it potential to strengthen the body  and help it fight  illnesses  that deteriorate memory and cause chronic neuromuscular pain.
Phenylalanine an essential amino acid not produced by the body that can cross the blood brain barrier and therefore directly affect brain chemistry. The body can convert it into tyrosine. Pregnant women and those suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure and anxiety attacks should not supplement this. Phenylalanine is used to make the artificial sweetener aspartame.
Phosphatidyl Serine a substance produced by the brain and abundantly found in nerve cells.  It has been known to enhance learning capability and short-term memory. It is thought to have an anti-aging effect on the brain.

Care and caution should be exercised when using any substance, natural or synthetic, to impact brain chemistry and function. My recommendations after all has been discussed and reviewed by your medical professionals are:

1.start with individual nutrients instead of formulations

2.first work with the whole herbs instead of their active ingredient extractions

3.begin with a clean slate, supplementing and layering ingredients one at a time

4.always adhere to a supplement’s warning label

In short, have fun but take your time. Next week, the stress buffers!

Until Then,

BeWell!

*Patt Lind-Kyle, Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain. Santa Rosa, CA: Energy Psychology Press, 2009