Health Effects and Concerns of Energy Drink Consumption

Updated on April 8th, 2020
Energy Drinks

Energy drinks were a rage in the United States in the ‘90s. Now, there are several choices. Similar products have been made, like chews, energy shots,  and even snacks! Energy product firms target kids and teenagers. Many companies are known to give free products to kids. Few drinks even taste like candy, so kids like the taste. This makes them more familiar and enticing. However, energy drinks(1) can cause many health issues.

What Are the Energy Drinks?

energy drinks
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Energy drinks differ from sports drinks and soft drinks. Soft drinks have a little amount of caffeine. They also contain fake sweeteners or sugar.  Sports drinks can have carbs, vitamins, and sugar. It would help if you drank them after a rigorous workout to replenish your body.

Most energy drinks list vitamins and caffeine as the main ingredients. This makes them sound attractive and healthy, but that is untrue. Energy drinks boast to enhance focus and improve productivity. They contain a lot of additional stimulants, such as:

  • Guarana: An herb used to avoid fatigue and improve mental speed. It also is used to increase sexual desire and to promote weight loss.
  • Taurine: A supplement used to improve endurance and memory.
  • Ginseng: An herb used to help to de-stress, improve endurance, and strengthen muscles.
  • Synephrine (bitter orange): An herb used to bolster weight loss.
  • L-carnitine l-tartrate (LCLT): A supplement used to spike up energy levels, speed, and memory. It is also reputed to break down fat.
  • Yerba mate: An herb used to improve mood and prevent tiredness.
  • Gingko: An herb used to prevent tiredness and increase focus.
  • St. John’s Wort: An herb used to improve mood and reduce stress.

They are not always harmful by themselves. But, when combined with caffeine, they may cause health problems.

Why It’s Important?

energy drinks
Image:shutterstock

A major problem with energy drinks(2) is that there is little control from the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration). This means that a lot of the substances have not been tested right. Also, there are no laws on product labels. So drinks may not list the right percentage of caffeine.

Soft drinks have about 30 mg of caffeine per serve. Coffee has around 100 mg of caffeine per cup. Energy drinks can have anywhere between 100 to 250 mg of caffeine per serving.

Doctors do worry about the risks of energy drinks. Side effects differ based on the person, amount, and type used. Reactions to energy drinks include  Headaches, stomachaches, or diarrhea.

[Read: Benefits of Detox Drinks]

These could be caused by a lack of water or a poor diet.

  • Chest pain.
  • Nervous feelings or anxious.
  • Lack of focus or dizzy.
  • Unable to fall asleep.
  • Energy drinks can be high in calories and sugar. These can lead to diabetes or weight gain.
  • Dental problems.

Serious health issues also can occur from using energy drinks, such as:

  • Withdrawal and addiction.
  • High BP.
  • Seizures.

Heart problems. Many people report a rapid heartbeat. Widespread use has been linked to heart failure or uneven heartbeat. Extreme cases have been linked to mortality.

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Kids tend to be more susceptible to caffeine. It can be detrimental to their development—people who have asthma or heart conditions or also are at higher peril.

Path to Improved Health

The AAFP (American Academy of Family Physicians) affirms that the FDA should set guidelines. Labels should be truthful and standard.   Products should be tested and controlled. AAFP also is against selling and marketing energy products to kids aged under 18 years.

Until this happens, there are precautions you should take. You should be mindful of these risks and talk to your children about them. Promote a healthy diet with exercise and regular sleep and. People who do this should have enough stamina. Having one energy drink once in a while might be okay, but drinking them all the time could affect your health.

[Read: Drinks for Sore Throat]

Things to Consider

There is another unhealthy trend with energy drinks. It has become common and cool to blend them with alcohol. Energy drinks can offset the effects of alcohol. It is notorious for making you unfocused and tired. Energy drinks are used to stay awake and get focused. Blending them can make you feel less drunk than you are. It also affects your ability to make the right choices. The same is true if you blend energy drinks with certain medicines or illegal drugs.

Conclusion

Energy drinks can pose a serious health risk in vulnerable groups, including pregnant women, children, teenagers, and those with medical conditions like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Pediatricians should discuss the use of energy drinks with their young patients and parents to ensure that all are mindful of the health risks, and if used, are monitored attentively

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