Energy Drinks Are Risky Behavior in a Can
Marketers would have us believe that superpowers can be had by popping the top and guzzling a colorful can of "energy" with names like
Red Bull, Vitamin Water, Monster Energy and Guru.
However, while energy drinks flowed fairly easily from gyms to the club scene to the mainstream, new research has linked them to health risks. This is truly ironic given how the beverages are sold to the health-seeking set.
Nancy Appleton, PhD, a nutritional consultant based in La Jolla, California, and author of Stopping Inflammation (Square One), was asked whether or not there is any basis at all for claims that these drinks have positive attributes. In a word, she said "no,".
There's nothing to be gained by turning to artificial, chemical-laden products that are, in fact, actually harmful.
Dr. Appleton says the caffeine content of many energy drinks is uncomfortably high.
According to a report in the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, energy drinks contain as much as 141 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per serving, often more than an eight-ounce cup of coffee (about 83 mg to 135 mg -- and coffee also contains natural co-factors that counteract some of the stimulating effect of caffeine).
Energy drinks also exceed the .02% caffeine content generally recognized as safe by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in its guidelines for colas.
In comparison, a 12-ounce Coca-Cola Classic contains 34.5 mg of caffeine... Pepsi contains 38 mg... and Tab has 46.5 mg. And, with energy drinks, as with colas and cups of coffee, many people don't stop with one.
RESEARCH PINPOINTS RISKS
In addition to excess amounts of caffeine, research conducted at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and presented at the American Heart Association's annual conference in 2007 found a link between consumption of energy drinks and elevated blood pressure and heart rate.
After abstaining from all caffeine for two days, healthy young adults drank two energy drinks, each containing 80 milligrams of caffeine and 1,000 milligrams of taurine, an amino acid thought to boost alertness that is found in protein foods like meat and fish.
Having taken baseline measurements before energy drink consumption, researchers measured blood pressure, heart rate and did an EKG following the drink -- at 30 minutes, an hour, two, three and four hours later. For the next five days, subjects consumed two energy drinks a day. On the seventh day researchers followed the same procedures as on the first day -- baseline measures for days one and seven were compared. After energy drink consumption, heart rates increased five to seven beats per minute, and systolic blood pressure increased by 10 mmHg. Though not raised to a degree that would be dangerous in healthy adults, researchers noted that this effect could be detrimental in people with health problems, including some who aren't aware of their increased risk.
Manufacturers of energy drinks are shrewdly pursuing the often sleep-deprived young adult marketplace. However, even though this group is considered relatively healthy and fit, they need to beware of health risks associated with excessive use of these products...
Exercise and sports
Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it promotes the production of urine by the kidneys. Severe dehydration may result when you combine the effect of the caffeine in the drinks with the natural fluid loss that occurs with exercise and sweating. Because of this risk, the American College of Sports Medicine discourages high school athletes from drinking these stimulant-containing energy or sports drinks.
Energy drinks and alcohol. Some recent entries in the energy drink market contain alcohol. But whether purchased as an all-in-one product or with alcohol added separately, it's important to note that there are particular dangers to imbibing spiked energy drinks since they contain both stimulants and a depressant (the alcohol).
The stimulants mask the fatigue that normally serves to signal that you've had too much to drink and it's time to quit. They may also reduce perceived impairment, and lead inexperienced kids (adults too, for that matter) to believe that they are more sober than they actually are. That can lead to poor judgment... and sometimes serious accidents. The fact that these substances are combined can also affect how they are metabolized, leading to the potential for serious medical problems when done in excess, and/or by people who are vulnerable, including those on prescription or OTC medications.
Posing as "Natural."
To appeal to health-conscious consumers, many marketers pump their drinks full of vitamins, amino acids or herbs (such as carnitine, guarana, ginseng, bitter orange), and then slap a "natural" label on the bottles. Don't be duped by this ruse, since there's nothing wholesome about these beverages and anything "natural" added to them is in amounts too tiny to have any benefit whatsoever.
Bloated with sugar and calories. Like soft drinks, energy drinks can make you fat. Dr. Appleton warns that they are loaded with sugar -- equivalent to three or more teaspoons per can or bottle -- and empty calories. They might seem less "bad for you" than sodas... for example, one serving of green tea flavored Vitamin Water contains 50 calories and 13 grams of sugar, while one 12-ounce Coca Cola Classic has 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar. But a more careful reading of the Vitamin Water label reveals that one serving consists of eight ounces and the beverage comes in 20-ounce bottles... so a bottle contains 125 calories and 32.5 grams of sugar. Additionally energy drinks are often made from fructose -- crystalline fructose or high fructose corn syrup. Some experts believe these sweeteners are damaging and may do more harm to your liver and endocrine system than table sugar or glucose.
What is the best sports energy drink?
A cool, clear, clean glass of water. It's more refreshing and it's better for your health. Be sure to drink good water avoid plastic bottles if at all possible!
Want too know more about water?
Read- Your bodies many cries for water
Nancy Appleton, PhD, nutritional consultant based in La Jolla, California, and author of Lick the Sugar Habit (Penguin Putnam) and Stopping Inflammation (Square One).