Energy drinks are basically drinks that are made up of large doses of caffeine.
Each contains the equivalent of up to several cups of coffee, as well as other ingredients like sugar, vitamins and some herbal substances. Energy drinks are marketed to increase both physical energy as well as mental alertness.
With all that we are expected to do nowadays, it is understandable that people are looking for ways to do more with less time and feel that increasing their energy is one way to do that. The problem with energy drinks is that they have not been tested for long-term safety. They are packaged and marketed as “dietary supplements” and don’t list the exact quantities of their various ingredients, including caffeine. In contrast, soft drinks are regulated by the FDA, and can only have a certain amount of caffeine. Energy drinks, on the other hand, can have an unlimited amount.
Adolescents are at particularly high risk for use and abuse of energy drinks. Estimates are that around 30 percent of adolescents use energy drinks. Some substitute energy drinks for meals. Adolescents who drink an energy drink before exercise can easily become dehydrated — the high caffeine content is a diuretic. We need to educate adolescents on this risk. In addition, some adolescents (and older people as well) mix energy drinks with alcohol, which decreases the perception of feeling “drunk” while the slowed motor reflexes and reaction time that come with drinking remain. This is a huge drinking and driving risk.
Right after drinking an energy drink, some people notice tremors, palpitations, and anxiety from drinking so much caffeine, as well as the other ingredients. Long-term use of energy drinks may result in obesity, high blood pressure, dental problems (from the high sugar content), stomach problems and sleep deprivation.
Some caffeine is okay — in fact, research shows that caffeine, in much smaller doses than what is typically found in an energy drink, will help mental alertness and energy.
by Zach Mitcham