Symptoms Of Lethargy Neck Pain Weight Gain Lack Of Sleep Are Energy Drinks Hazardous to Your Health?

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Are Energy Drinks Hazardous to Your Health?

Do you know of a teenager who is addicted to energy drinks? Energy drink consumption for teenagers and people in their twenties is the fastest growing group in the soft drink industry, with a total turnover of nine billion dollars. In fact, they are quite popular on most college campuses, and among adults in the workplace. Many of these energy drink companies find ways to outmaneuver the FDA, and don’t have to report how much caffeine or even disclose certain information to the FDA. Many people become dependent on these drinks because they feel they perform better during physical and mental activities, can stay longer to study, fight fatigue, increase metabolism and athletic skills. The CDC reported that “one in three adults consumed an energy drink in the past week, 21% had drunk it more than once in the last week, and 11% consumed more than three energy drinks per week”. The most alarming trend is that these drinks are often combined with alcohol, and research shows that students consume more alcohol when mixed with energy drinks.

Drinks like Red Bull, Monster, Rock Star, AMP, 5-Hour Energy, and others contain ingredients like caffeine, taurine, sugar, (even more sugar, like sucralose and high fructose corn syrup), synthetic vitamins and chemicals, and other flavorings . Side effects may include:

Caffeine: According to the Mayo Clinic, caffeine has been shown to cause anxiety, nervousness, tremors and shakes, dehydration, headaches, rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, increased blood pressure, irritability and lack of sleep. It stimulates your central nervous system, making it difficult for many people to sleep. Red Bull among many other energy drinks that contain a lot of caffeine, causes the body to leak calcium, resulting in a weaker bone structure, which can then contribute to Osteoporosis if taken over a long period of time. Red Bull has been banned in Norway, Uruguay, France and Denmark due to its many adverse effects.

Taurine: An essential amino acid, Taurine helps regulate body levels of water and salt, and is an antioxidant. It also plays a role in helping heart patients with angina and respiratory problems. The University of Utah reports that consuming just one amino acid supplement like Taurine can alter nitrogen balance in the body, lower metabolism and put undue stress on kidney function. Increased taurine supplementation in children may cause stunting.

Sugar: With an abundance of extra sugar such as glucose and sucrose, tooth decay and other dental problems can develop, not to mention adrenal and pancreatic problems. Rockstar contains 102 grams of sugar!

A healthy alternative: drink orange juice, and eat orange slices to help improve circulation and oxygenate tissues. Apples are great fruits for boosting energy too! So the saying goes, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.

Alarming statistics include:

  • A federal agency, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, reported energy drinks caused more than 13,000 emergency room visits in 2009.
  • Children drink more caffeinated drinks, and are on average 60-70mg per day, and sometimes as much as 700mg per day.
  • 33% of American teenagers, and 50% of college students consume energy drinks and caffeinated drinks on a consistent basis.

Do energy drinks help athletes perform better? Creighton University conducted a study on 17 college men to investigate the effect of sugar-free Red Bull on weight lifting. The study determined no improvement in lifting after consumption. Another study was done by Utah State University with a low-calorie caffeine energy drink with Taurine on 20 NCAA Division I football players, and they do not run faster or perform better in various athletic tests.

When choosing a drink, water is your best bet. You may even consider adding lemon/lime drops to your water. Smoothies with added fruit and a quality protein powder also help with energy. Do your research to determine which drink is right for you, and what positive and negative effects they can cause.

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