I think we have all had one of those days where it seems no matter what we do we cannot stay awake. Whether you have a new job, new baby, or are battling insomnia, an energy drink can seem like the perfect solution to your drowsy woes.
I am going to stop you right there. Before you reach for that brightly colored can of energy, I urge you to brew yourself a cup of green tea and read this article. The green tea will give you as much caffeine as you can get from a cup of a naturally caffeinated product and has a lot of other health benefits, but back to energy drinks.
If you have ever looked at the back of a can of coffee or tea, you will see a nutrition label clearly stating what is contained in the coffee or tea. Now when you turn over an energy drink, the nutrition label is missing, and it is replaced with a supplement facts panel, while these two labels look very similar, and to consumers, there may seem like there is no difference at all.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. U.S. News points out that while nutrition labels are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the supplement industry isn’t. They have little oversight about what they must show about their products. Many energy drinks don’t disclose all the stimulants that go into the product and will often list a “proprietary blend.”
This means that you can be drinking dangerous amounts of stimulants, or even stimulants that interact with your current medications and not even know it.
The Substance Abuse And Mental Health Services Administration reports that emergency room visits connected to energy drinks doubled in numbers from 10,068 visits in 2007 to 20,783 visits in 2011.
While many of the stimulants that make it into energy drinks do so for their caffeine content, don’t let that make you think there won’t be any drug interactions. Caffeineinformer.com is a compact source of information that shows some of the severe interactions that caffeine can have with common prescription medications. If you are drinking energy drinks and taking prescription medication, you want to discuss possible interaction with your pharmacologist or doctor.
In addition to caffeine interactions, unlisted ingredients inside the “proprietary blends” of energy drinks may cause interactions with medications. It is always wise to steer clear of these drinks when taking medications.
The amount of caffeine in most energy drinks can cause heart problems like atrial fibrillation and increased blood pressure. There are warnings on most energy drinks not to consume more than one energy drink a day, and those warnings stem from the increased number of cardiac cases seen due to the consumption of energy drinks. According to Medicaldaily.com when people consume energy drinks in excess physicians who see unexplained altered cardiac patterns should look to energy drinks as the source of the problem.
One unfortunate effect of the increase of energy drink consumption is the increased rates of late miscarriages, stillbirths, and low birth-weight babies. According to Express, caffeine in women can be much more serious because they often do not find out they are pregnant until the damage to the fetus has already been done.
Other Adverse Effects
• Alteration of perception of fatigue and pain, which means that a person might push themselves past their natural limits
• Marked hypoglycemia (low calcium levels in the blood serum)
• An increased risk of arterial hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes in adults, which reduces Insulin sensitivity
• High amounts of caffeine can result in negative effects on the neurological and cardiovascular systems in teens and kids, which can cause physical dependence and addiction
• Tachycardia, agitation, irritability, nervousness, and insomnia in doses as little as 50 mg of caffeine are seen. Caffeine toxicity presents in a similar fashion to amphetamine poisoning and can include cardiac arrhythmias, seizures, and psychosis.
The World Health Organization reports ample research that links consumption of energy drinks with high-risk behavior, such as combining them with alcohol. One study of US College students discovered that the combination of alcohol and energy drinks resulted in a higher chance of adverse reactions as compared to drinking alcohol only.
Are These Drinks Worth The Risks?
These reasons alone should be enough to get anyone to reconsider their next energy drink buy. Unfortunately, as a society, we may have to put energy drinks into the categories of alcohol and tobacco, as a controlled substance, before anyone decides to do anything about it.
Two states are already trying to control the risks of energy drink damage to minors The State of Illinois and a county in the state of New York proposed legislation in 2013 to ban the sale of energy drinks to minors. The House of Representatives in Illinois let the bill die on the floor in 2014.
We may have a long way to go in order to regulate the sell of energy drinks in our states and local jurisdictions, but one thing is for sure. These drinks do have inherent dangers that should never be taken lightly.