Dangers of energy drinks

Have you ever been in a rut where you really needed a caffeine fix and maybe coffee and mountain dew wasn’t quite cutting it? Next on your list: an energy drink. As the name implies, these drinks are full of ingredients claiming to increase energy and alertness, but at what cost to your health? Loaded with legal stimulants and caffeine, energy drinks have been all the rave for the past few years, and more and more, people are drinking them in place of regular sodas. Being the kind of society that is constantly on-the-go and where teenagers and young adults stay out until the wee hours of the night (or morning), it’s no wonder that these drinks have become so popular. So before you make the decision to buy one of these stimulating drinks, think about what it is you’re putting into your body and the effects it can have.

A Recipe for Disaster
The main problem with energy drinks is that they are basically just caffeine and sugar, with a few additional herbal stimulating ingredients. These legal herbal stimulants are usually one, or a combination, of the following:

  • Carnitine: An amino acid that metabolizes fatty acids.
  • Gingko Biloba: Enhances memory.
  • Ginseng: A root believed to increase energy levels and reduce stress.
  • Guarana Seed: A high-caffeine stimulant.
  • Inositol: A part of the B-complex vitamin family, but not actually a vitamin, that relays messages between cells.
  • Taurine: Produced naturally in the human body, taurine is an amino acid that regulates the heart beat and muscle contractions.

Problems with Energy Drinks
It is a known fact that if you drink an energy drink, your heart rate will accelerate and you will have a ton of energy; so much, in fact, that you probably won’t even be able to sit still for one minute. Consumers of energy drinks put a lot of trust into the companies making them; believe me, your health is not in the best interest of this billion dollar industry. The FDA doesn’t even regulate what goes into these energy drinks and there is no limit to the amount of caffeine the drinks can contain. There is not enough research done on the long term side effects of the herbal stimulants that go into energy drinks, so no one knows if they are actually safe. Regardless of the amount of research done, there are known short term side effects that should be considered before the drink is consumed.

Caffeine. Caffeine, plain and simple, is a drug. And it’s addictive. It is both a diuretic and a stimulant. As a diuretic, caffeine causes the kidneys to excrete more urine so it causes one to urinate more frequently; if you’re drinking the energy drink and sweating (like if you’re dancing at a club), you can become dehydrated very quickly. As a stimulant, it can cause panic attacks, insomnia, heart beat irregularities, the jitter-bugs, and irritability.

Energy Drinks and Alcohol. Not only are people drinking energy drinks, but they’re mixing energy drinks (a stimulant) with alcohol (a depressant). Red Bull and vodka is a common mixed drink served at bars all over the world. When a stimulating substance and a depressant substance enter your bloodstream at the same time, it has a negative effect on the heart. There are some cases when this has led to death. Mixing these two drinks can also cause dehydration.

Ingredient List. Most of the ingredients that go into energy drinks are okay in small doses, but in the amount that they are present in energy drinks, and with the amount of energy drinks that people consume, there can be some consequences to health.

Sugar Load. The amount of sugar in an energy drink is unbelievable. And dangerous. The surge of sugar causes a spike in blood sugar, and a couple hours later when it dives, you’ll be feeling sluggish and overly fatigued. Besides that, this spike is horrible for your body.

Take Home Lesson
When it comes down to it, no one can tell you what you can and cannot drink and there is no legal drinking age for energy drinks. The real decision is up to you. Take this information to heart and keep it there; even if you love the way energy drinks make you feel, it truly may not be worth it. No one really knows.

Last updated on Dec 3rd, 2010 and filed under Healthy Eating. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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