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Taurine, Guarana & Ginseng Effects

By Janet Renee, MS, RD

Taurine, guarana and ginseng are three substances commonly found together or separately in supplements promoted for enhancing energy and sports performance. It's challenging to pin down the effects of these three substances used together, since research is lacking. However, limited data sheds some light on the effects of each individual substance. Although the three substances are most commonly marketed for energy and sports performances, studies to show beneficial effects in this area are lacking.

Taurine Effects

As one of the most abundant amino acids -- the building blocks of protein -- taurine is found in your muscles and nervous system. Your body can produce taurine from vitamin B-6 and two other amino acids, methionine and cysteine. Scientists are still discovering the effects of taurine, but researchers think it helps regulate heartbeat and influence brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. In a research study, a caffeinated taurine drink failed to improve athletic performance. However, researchers are unsure whether caffeine influenced the effect, according to results published in the April 2012 issue of the "International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism."

Guarana Effects

Guarana is an herb that contains caffeine alkaloids such as theobromine and theophylline. It's commonly used for its stimulant properties. Its effects are related to its caffeine content. Caffeine stimulates the central nervous system, which increases alertness and may give you a boost of energy. It can decrease pain and reduce headaches also. Caffeine may aid in modest weight loss and improve mental function, according to NYU Langone Medical Center.

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Taking Ginseng

Three different herbs are commonly called ginseng. However, when it comes to supplements used for energy, the term typically refers to panax ginseng. It's commonly used to boost memory, concentration, athletic performance and stamina and to reduce the effects of stress. Ginseng offers possible benefits for boosting abstract thinking, reaction times and mental arithmetic skills in middle-aged adults, according to MedlinePlus. Ginseng may also lower fasting blood sugar in Type 2 diabetics and improve erectile dysfunction.

Supplement Safety

Taking taurine, guarana and ginseng together in the typical amounts found in energy drinks appears to pose no danger, according to a clinical review published in the May 2003 issue of the "Journal of the American Pharmacists Association." The review noted that there were no reports of adverse side effects regarding this combination in the amounts found in most energy drinks, which is well below the amount needed to cause adverse effects, according to researchers. However, discuss it with your doctor before taking supplements.

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