Side effects of energy drinks
An energy drink is a type of beverage containing stimulant drugs, usually including caffeine, which is marketed as providing mental and physical stimulation (marketed as “energy”, but distinct from food energy). They may or may not be carbonated and many also contain sugar or other sweeteners, herbal extracts, taurine, and acids. Energy drinks have been found to cause negative side effects in half of the young people, new research suggests. Most energy drinks contain large amounts of caffeine, which can provide a temporary energy boost. Some energy drinks contain sugar and other substances. The boost is short-lived, however, and may be accompanied by other problems.
The ingredients of energy drinks vary a great deal from one brand to another, but many of them contain potentially harmful substances, such as caffeine, taurine, sugars, sweeteners and herbal supplements. Although energy drinks are easily confused with sports drinks and vitamin waters, they are actually quite distinct in that sports drinks and vitamin waters may be suitable for rehydration, whereas energy drinks are not.
At the moment, there are no restrictions on children purchasing energy drinks, and they are marketed at the point-of-sale in grocery stores, as well as advertising that targets children. Kids are consuming more and more caffeine in the form of soda and energy drinks. The average caffeine consumption of teens in the U.S. is 60-70 mg per day, but it can be as high as 700 mg per day.
There are a number of health risks associated with energy drinks, including:
- Caffeine intoxication
- Caffeine withdrawal symptoms, including headaches
- Caffeine overdose, which can be life-threatening
- Cardiovascular problems
- Raised blood pressure
- Sleep disorders
- Calcium deficiency
- Dental problems
- Increased postprandial hyperglycemia, particularly concerning for people with diabetes
- Electrolyte disorders, particularly concerning for people with eating disorders
Mixing energy drinks with alcohol may be even more problematic. Energy drinks can blunt the feeling of intoxication, which may lead to heavier drinking and alcohol-related injuries.
For most people, occasional energy drinks are fine, but the amount of caffeine can vary from product to product. Try to limit yourself to no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day from all sources. If you’re consistently fatigued or run-down, however, consider healthier ways to boost your energy.