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Energy Drinks and Caffeine

Healthy Lifestyles

Ahhh, we’re finally getting some sunny days, warm weather, and increased outdoor activity!  That’s bound to make us more thirsty and tired than usual.  But please stop and think before you or your children reach for that energy drink!  Although it may be hard to resist the marketing blitz for energy drinks, there are some things you should know about them before you drink.

 

  • Energy drinks are a HUGE business.  More than 500 new energy drinks have been launched this year and it is a 3.4 billion dollar a year industry and growing.
  • 31% of 12-17 year olds are regular consumers of energy drinks.
  • Energy drinks are not currently regulated by the FDA.
  • The amount of caffeine in energy drinks is often not listed on the label and varies widely.  Some have the equivalent caffeine of 14 cans of Coca-Cola.
  • There are risks associated with too much caffeine and tolerance develops quickly.
  • Caffeine addiction of youth is considered a “gateway” addiction that can lead to search for other drugs that give a good “buzz”.
  • Energy drinks are loaded with sugar and may also have other additives that are not always listed.
  • It is advised that pregnant women, the elderly, and those under age 18 not consume energy drinks. 
  • Energy drinks combined with alcohol enhance “drunkenness” and can be dangerous.  Some pre-combined beverages are gradually being discontinued.

In large amounts, caffeine can contribute towards nervousness, irritability, anxiety, muscle twitching, insomnia, headaches, and heart palpitations.  There is such a thing as caffeine intoxication and it can cause nausea and vomiting that can be difficult to control.  It is recommended that people have less than 400 mg. of caffeine a day.  Some energy drinks have 300 mg. of caffeine which puts you very close to the threshold without any other source of caffeine.  An 8 oz. cup of brewed coffee has about 133 mg. of caffeine. 

 

Still craving an energy drink?  There are alternatives and it is likely you could find an acceptable substitute.  If you are addicted to energy drinks or other sources of caffeine and want to “break the habit”, do so gradually to reduce withdrawal symptoms. 

 

More information on this topic is available at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/714855 and http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=92940   

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