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What You Should Know About Energy Drinks

Por Emiliana Faillace, Nutrition Counselor, MyDiet™ Team -
What You Should Know About Energy Drinks

According to a study published in the Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine magazine on March of 2008, more than 30% of teenagers in the United States reported they had consumed energy drinks in the year 2006. The consumption of these types of drinks has increased thanks to extensive marketing campaigns stating that these drinks eliminate fatigue and boost energy immediately. Also, the drinks are readily accessible to teenagers, available for purchase at any convenience or grocery store. However, very little has been said regarding the effects that these drinks actually have on our health.

The main ingredient in energy drinks is usually  caffeine. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) classified caffeine as safe in 1958 and assured that people who drink caffeine in moderation have nothing to worry about. According to the American Dietetic Association drinking 2 or 3 cups of coffee (200-300 milligrams of caffeine) daily doesn’t have a negative impact on health. How caffeine impacts a person depends on their health status, physical condition, weight, amount of caffeine consumed and the frequency in which it is consumed.

Below, we provide some examples of the caffeine content for the most popular “energy” beverages.

Beverage

Caffeine Content

Equivalent in Cups of Coffee

Full Throttle

144 mg/16 ounces

1 ½ cups

Mountain Dew Amp Energy

71 mg/16 ounces

¾ cup

Diet Pepsi Max

46 mg/12 ounces

½ cup

Red Bull

80 mg/8.4 ounces

¾ cup

Rockstar Energy Drink

160 mg/16 ounces

1 2/3 cups

SoBe No Fear

174 mg/16 ounces

1 2/3 cups

Coffee

100 mg/8 ounces

Coca-Cola

34 mg/8 ounces

1 2/3 cups

* Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine (2008). Energy Drinks: The New Eye-Opener For Adolescents

Energy drinks also contain other stimulating substances such as ginseng and guarana. The effects of guarana are similar to those of caffeine, but the duration of the effect is longer, due to its tanine and saponine content. In addition, these drinks contain carnitine, a substance that allegedly helps burn fat and raise the spirits. However, there is not enough scientific research to form solid conclusions.

As you may have noticed, the amount of caffeine in one energy drink bottle is not excessive; the problem is the presence of other ingredients that multiply its effect, either by increasing the quantity or prolonging it. The consumption of these types of beverages should be moderate, and only if needed. They shouldn't be drunk as soft drinks due to the harmful effects they may have on your health. According to a study published in the Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine magazine on March of 2008, there has been one reported case of  heart attack as a result of excessive caffeine consumption. In milder cases, the side effects of these beverages are:

  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Heart palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Restless sleep
  • Esophagus and/or stomach irritation
  • Changes in  blood pressure
  • Hyperthermia (too hot)
  • Tachycardia (increased heart beat)

 

Sources:

  1. Clinical Pediatric Emergency Medicine (2008). Energy Drinks: The New Eye-Opener For Adolescents Reviewed in July, 2008 from  www.mdconsult.com
  2. American Dietetic Association. Caffeine and Coffee: Are There Health Risks? Reviewed in August  2008 from www.eatright.org
  3. International Food Information Council. Everything you need to know about caffeine. Reviewed in August  2008 from http://www.ific.org/publications/brochures/caffeinebroch.cfm

 

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