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Fire Department

Posted on: January 6, 2021

Energy drinks and your health

Mid-section photo of a person holding unmarked energy drink

Source: Texas Poison Center Network

The New Year is usually the time for New Year's Resolutions. Many people set new goals about having a healthier lifestyle. When it comes to healthier living, there's no better time than the present. As the new year approaches, there will be many people looking for new health foods, supplements and sometimes energy drinks to help them meet their goals. Below is some important information on the energy drink business.

Energy Drinks

Energy drinks are often marketed as beverages to increase alertness and energy levels, containing significant amounts of caffeine and as much or more sugar as common soft drinks. Many contain upwards of 300 mg of caffeine, the amount in three cups of coffee. Although most people consider energy drinks unhealthy, some of these products are marketed as being natural and containing healthy ingredients.

Be aware, that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only provides guidance and it is the energy drink companies themselves that decide whether to label their products as a beverage or a dietary supplement. Most energy drinks were originally classified as "dietary supplements", which allows them circumvent the FDA caffeine limit of 71 mg per 12 ounces on drink. Most energy drinks typically surpass that limit with about 120 mg per 12 ounces. It wasn't until recently, that manufacturers agreed to disclose their ingredients and add information on the quantity of caffeine, sugar, and other stimulants in their products.

In addition to caffeine, many energy drinks contain other herbal substances like guarana, ginseng, gingko biloba, taurine, and others that can also contain caffeine and that are not analyzed by the FDA.

One of the greatest concerns is that these companies will often focus their marketing efforts towards the younger adolescent population. Although energy drink companies warn that these beverages may not be suitable for children, many still wind up in their hands. According to the Centers for Disease Control, "In 2011, 1,499 adolescents aged 12 to 17 years went to the emergency room for an energy drink related emergency."

Some of the dangers of drinking energy drinks may include:

  • Heart complications (such as irregular heartbeat and heart failure)
  • Dehydration (not enough water in your body) & lower potassium levels
  • severe anxiety (feeling nervous and jittery)
  • Insomnia (unable to sleep)

An additional concern is combining caffeine with alcohol. According to the CDC, "when alcohol is mixed with caffeine, the caffeine can mask the depressant effects of alcohol, making drinkers feel more alert than they would otherwise. As a result, they may drink more alcohol and become more impaired than they realize, increasing the risk of alcohol-attributable harms."

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