Are energy drinks safe?

Brandon Hahn December 3, 2012 Supplement Articles
Are energy drinks safe?

The death toll continues to rise for energy drinks. That is the lead story these days. It’s no shocker that the data is coming out of the woodwork on this topic. People are starting to come forward with their issues with energy drinks. Is it all media spike hooplah, or is there a serious issue at hand. People are concerned if the next energy drink they consume might be their last. Since questions like these keep coming up quite, let’s provide some detail on the situation.

What’s in an energy drink?

Energy drinks used to be a heavy dose of caffeine, a few b-vitamins, taurine, and a little ginseng. Over the past few years, the list of ingredients has more than doubled. The amount of stimulants has also increased. The average amount of caffeine has risen from around 150 milligrams per 16 ounce can up to 250 milligrams per 16 ounce can. The list of ingredients in some of the common energy drinks is listed below (along with some quick detail on each).

The common ingredient profile

  • carbonated water – water that has been carbonated
  • sucrose – table sugar
  • glucose – a simple sugar also known as dextrose
  • taurine – an organic acid, essential for various functions in the body
  • sodium citrate – sodium salt of citric acid, acts as a preservative
  • panax ginseng root extract – comes from a root, and is primarily a stimulant
  • l-carnitine – may aid in fat reduction via shuttling free fatty acids to be utilized as energy
  • caffeine – a stimulant that mainly impacts the central nervous system
  • sorbic acid – food preservative to prevent mold and other bacteria
  • benzoic acid – food preservative to prevent mold and other bacteria
  • niacinamide – part of the B-vitamin group (amide of vitamin B3), aids in stress relief
  • sodium chloride – added as a preservative, but is also table salt
  • glucuronolactone – supposed to act as a detoxifier
  • inositol – chemical compound, but also found in various fruits, helps nourish the brain
  • guarana seed – stimulant that comes from a plant that naturally contains caffeine
  • pyridoxine hydrochloride – aka vitamin B6, required by the body for generating energy from food.
  • sucralose – an artificial sweetener, splenda is a sucralose based sweetener
  • riboflavin – aka vitamin B2, plays many key roles in the body, like energy metabolism
  • maltodextrin – a starch mainly used as an additive in foods, improves mouthfeel of the product
  • cyanocobalamin – artifical form of vitamin B12, provides energy, and prevents a reduction in red blood cells

Why the increases in deaths?

This factor can be pinned to a few different things. Advertising which leads to increased visibility of products is a factor. Energy drinks are now being touted by athletes and these are being pushed by athletes and the events they support. That doesn’t directly lead to deaths, but does link it to increased usage. People slowly begin to use something, and over time tend to increase their usage. The body may adapt to a certain level of use, and the thought of “more is better” comes into play. One can per day can turn into two or more, and the increase of incidences will also increase. Unfortunately, we are the country of go big or go home.

The other notable factor is the cocktail blend. This does not mean the mix of ingredients in energy drinks, but the mix of things that are consumed at or around the time of drinking the energy drink. Drugs are becoming more common and have been on the rise. This is not just recreational drugs but illicit drugs, like cocaine, has seen a 10% increase over the past few years. Teens are passing around prescription drugs amongst each other for various uses. All of these combinations create serious health risks. Analysts can take their pick as to what they wish to demonize. When it comes to energy drinks, using them within the guidelines of the label are deemed safe. Simply put, consuming caffeine at a young age, and/or in excess is a recipe for disaster. So, drink responsibly, and do not play doctor.

The use of recreational and prescription drugs is heavily on the rise. This also means a heavy crackdown is soon to follow. This is why education is key. Do not be ignorant and ruin things for everyone based on the poor choices of a few. Awareness is key, so know your body and what you are putting into it. It is hard to point the blame at yourself when something happens. People are making less choices for themselves these days, and are allowing more restrictions to be placed on everyone for our “safety”. If you make the choice, you take the responsibility. Make choices for yourself, rather than allowing others to make them for you.

About The Author

Brandon has been in the fitness industry for over seven years and has trained over 1,000 clients. He has competed in several bodybuilding competitions and continues to improve his physique with hardwork and dedication. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science, Brandon has the knowledge and skills to get you on the fast track to fitness.