- With Mayo Clinic nutritionist
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.read biographyclose window
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
As a specialty editor for the nutrition and healthy eating guide, Katherine Zeratsky helps you sort through the facts and figures, the fads and the hype to learn more about nutrition and diet.
A Marinette, Wis., native, Katherine is certified in dietetics by the state of Minnesota and the American Dietetic Association. She has been with Mayo Clinic since 1999.
She is active in nutrition-related curriculum and course development in wellness nutrition at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and nutrition education related to weight management and practical applications of nutrition-related lifestyle changes.
Other areas of interest include food and nutrition for all life stages, active lifestyles and the culinary arts.
She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, served a dietetic internship at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, and worked as a registered dietitian and health risk counselor at ThedaCare of Appleton, Wis., before joining the Mayo Clinic staff.
Nutrition basics (31)
- Phenylalanine in diet soda: Is it harmful?
- Water softeners: How much sodium do they add?
- Diet soda: Is it bad for you?
- see all in Nutrition basics
Healthy diets (11)
- Canola oil: Does it contain toxins?
- Butter vs. margarine: Which is better for my heart?
- Detox diets: Do they work?
- see all in Healthy diets
Healthy cooking (7)
- When the heat is on, which oil should you use?
- Moldy cheese: Is it OK to eat?
- Food poisoning: How long can you safely keep leftovers?
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Healthy menus and shopping strategies (8)
- White whole-wheat bread: Is it nutritious?
- Sodium nitrate in meat: Heart disease risk factor?
- Brominated vegetable oil: Why is BVO in my drink?
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Nutritional supplements (18)
- What is wheatgrass — And why is it in my drink?
- Prenatal vitamins: OK for women who aren't pregnant?
- Too much vitamin C: Harmful?
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Taurine in energy drinks: What is it?
Taurine is listed as an ingredient in many energy drinks. What is taurine? Is it safe?
from Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
Taurine is an amino acid that supports neurological development and helps regulate the level of water and mineral salts in the blood. Taurine is also thought to have antioxidant properties.
Taurine is found naturally in meat, fish and breast milk, and it's commonly available as a dietary supplement. Some studies suggest that taurine supplementation may improve athletic performance, which may explain why taurine is used in many energy drinks. Other studies suggest that taurine combined with caffeine improves mental performance, although this finding remains controversial. And in one study, people with congestive heart failure who took taurine supplements three times a day for two weeks showed improvement in their exercise capacity.
Up to 3,000 milligrams a day of supplemental taurine is considered safe. Any excess taurine is simply excreted by the kidneys. Moderation is important, however. Little is known about the effects of heavy or long-term taurine use.
It's also important to remember that there may be high amounts of other ingredients in energy drinks, such as high amounts of caffeine or sugar. Too much caffeine can increase your heart rate and blood pressure, interrupt your sleep, and cause nervousness and irritability. And added sugar may provide unwanted added calories.
For most people, occasional energy drinks are fine, but try to limit yourself to about 16 ounces (500 milliliters) a day.Next question
Energy drinks: Do they really boost energy?
- Babu K, at al. Energy drinks: The new eye-opener for adolescents. Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine. 2008;9:35.
- Shao A, et al. Risk assessment for the amino acids taurine, L-glutamine and L-arginine. Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology. 2008;50:376.
- Nelson JK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 13, 2010.
- Taurine. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed March 23, 2012.
- Bichler A, et al. A combination of caffeine and taurine has no effect on short term memory but induces changes in heart rate and mean arterial blood pressure. Amino Acids. 2006;31:471.
- Reissig CJ, et al. Caffeinated energy drinks — A growing problem. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2009:99:1.
- Higgins JP, et al. Energy beverages: Content and safety. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2010:85:1033.
- Beyrandvand MR, et al. Effect of taurine supplementation on exercise capacity of patients with heart failure. Journal of Cardiology. 2011;57:333.