Energy drinks have become the cheap and sometimes tasty way to get more done. While I get that energy drinks can seem like an easy way to get a boost (after all, they are available in just about every grocery store and gas station), I worry that we don’t really know about their harmful effects. Just because they can be bought on the go and in bulk doesn’t mean they are good for us. Many people argue that if they were really harmful to us, they would have to come with a warning label. But the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) doesn’t have to regulate or evaluate energy drinks for safety if they contain plant and herbal extracts in addition to caffeine, which enables them to be labeled as “dietary supplements” so that they slip under the radar. Also, a recent Huffington Post article states, “Energy drink companies don’t even have to reveal how much caffeine each drink can contains.”
I don’t know about you, but knowing that makes me feel a bit queasy. It’s one thing to enjoy or use the benefits of an energy drink on occasion, it’s another to down them on a daily basis, or drink a bunch of them at once. Plus, caffeine is more harmful to developing teens than to adults because teens have a lower tolerance, a faster metabolism and are still developing physically and mentally.
Caffeine is actually a psychoactive drug, so even when it’s enjoyed through a soda or a Frappuccino, it’s important to keep moderation in mind. Energy drinks with high amounts of caffeine can cause some very dangerous reactions, according to Kathleen Miller, Ph.D., a senior research scientist at the University at Buffalo’s Research Institute on Addictions. Miller says, “Get high enough levels — and I’m not talking really, super high here, say 500 milligrams of caffeine, that’s the equivalent of five cups of coffee – and you run into what’s called caffeine toxicity,” Miller says. “That includes the headaches, tremors, heart palpitations and nausea. At high enough levels — and this is fairly unusual — caffeine is toxic enough that, for some people, it can cause seizures, mania, hallucinations, even strokes.”
There are also reports that link deaths to some of these energy drinks, but investigative research is still being done to determine whether those energy drinks directly contributed to the deaths. In the meantime, I say we put down the energy drinks and try out one of these 8 Tips to Boost Your Energy or snack one of these 10 Foods that Will Give You Energy.
For more info about energy drinks, check out:
- “Just How Dangerous Are Energy Drinks, Anyway?” from the Huffington Post
- Forbes magazine’s article “What You Really Need to Know About the Safety of 5-Hour Energy Drink”
- Risks of Mixing Energy Drinks with Alcohol