Energy Drinks

Talk with your kids about energy drinks
Talk with your kids about energy drinks - 2
Docs worry about kids buzzed on energy drinks
24 Problems Every Energy Drink Addict Knows To Be True
Top 10 Energy Drink Dangers
World Health Organization’s Warning
Energy Drinks - More information
Energy Drinks and Alcohol
Energy Drinks and Work
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To reduce the potential energy drink dangers education is key. Consumers need to be aware of how much caffeine is in a drink or product and parents need to know exactly what their children are drinking and talk to them about what is safe

Talk with your kids about energy drinks

Energy drinks could be giving you more than just a boost of energy, including negative effects on blood pressure, heart rate, and brain function and even dangerous amounts of caffeine, sugar, and other ingredients that can cause more harm than good. Here are four things to think about when consuming energy drinks.

Sugar - The large amounts of sugar in energy drinks can lead to unnecessary spikes in blood sugar, dental health problems, and added weight gain and some contain even more sugar than a regular soda.

Dangers to kids - Kids who drink energy drinks are exposing themselves to the same high levels of caffeine and sugar than adults are. However, because they are growing, these dangers could have greater negative effects on their future health than adults.

Dehydration - Large amounts of caffeine and sugar may lead to dehydration. A dehydrated body can’t perform at its best; whether your at your desk or on the playing field.

Think smart - Think of an alternative energy boost. Adequate rest, water, light exercise, and natural energy derived from foods will give your body the fuel that it needs for ongoing health and performance.

Safe Energy-Boosting Foods and Drinks

Everyone needs a little pick-me-up now and then. Is caffeine our only relatively safe option? The truth is,Mother Nature provides a bevy of hazard-free energy boosters. Here’s a sampling:

1. Foods High in Iron - Lack of iron in your diet can lead to anemia, which can leave you feeling wiped out. Spinach is chock-full of iron. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds, tofu, white beans, lentils, sun-dried tomatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, and even oysters and clams are also great sources of iron to reach the recommended daily dose of 18 mg.

2. Produce Packed With C - Getting enough Vitamin C is key to fending off fatigue. Citrus, fruits and vegetables including kiwi, tomatoes, strawberries, bell peppers and Brussels sprouts pack a ton of Vitamin C in small package.

3. PB & Bananas - All fruits contain carbohydrates in the form of natural sugars, which, despite their tarnished reputation, give you energy. The carbohydrates in bananas are easy to digest which means they go to work fast. For a longer-lasting boost, combine bananas with the protein power of natural peanut butter.

4. Kombucha - This fermented tea drink is a relative newcomer to the beverage aisle, but kombucha has actually been around since the era of China’s Qin Dynasty, roughly 250 BC. Essentially black tea blended with enzymes and amino acids, kombucha is hailed for a wide range of health benefits, including restoring energy. Kombucha is found in Yogi's Green Tea Kombucha tea bags and GT's Enlightened Organic Raw Kombucha bottled drink - keep refrigerated and don't shake - both found at the Health Shop.) Other bottled drinks that we know of include GT's Original and Gingerade Kombucha, Kombucha Wonder Drink - Japan and Kombucha Wonder Drink - Tibet, both with some alcohol in them, and Live Kombucha Soda - Living Lemon and Pure Doctor.

Talking about energy drinks is just the beginning. Feed them little bits of information when they can’t escape, like in the car, on the bus, or better yet, while walking in the park. Listen carefully because they will share less and less as they get older, but often what is shared is very important.

Talk with your kids about energy drinks

Energy drinks are a $12.5 billion dollar industry in the United States, and while the sale of soda continues to decrease, energy drink sales grew by 6.7 percent in 2013. Consumption is increasing among middle school and high school students, especially boys.

The increase is driven by powerful marketing machines that target advertising to teens and young adults in ways that didn’t exist 10 years ago — game systems, downloaded apps on personal phones, reading devices and social media. They also target traditional methods, such as TV, magazines and sports sponsorship, especially motor sports and extreme sports.

A recent study conducted in Canada involving more than 8,000 public high school students showed an alarming correlation; young people who drank energy drinks a few times a month were more likely to participate in substance abuse and risk seeking.

Most kids know energy drinks aren’t healthy. They know the drinks are full of empty calories and loaded with caffeine; a central nervous system stimulant. Yet, they drink them because as one freshman explained, “People think drinking them is cool, especially boys.”

Caffeine has stronger effects on young people than adults. It can cause rapid heart rate, transient hypertension, and headache. Young adults are mixing these drinks with alcohol or drugs and driving, and it has becoming a significant health problem.

To address this potential new “gateway drug,” parents need to talk with their children early on — well before middle school.

Share your opinion on energy drinks and health habits on a regular basis, when you still have your children’s attention and are influential. Teach them to respect their body. The best way to embed these values is to model them in your home and in the choices you make. Sprinkle in a few short but poignant news stories to demonstrate your point.

As they get older, talk to them about marketing and how it influences trends, especially in their age group. Make a game out of identifying the silliest or most clever advertising — use the old cigarette ads from the 70s as an example. Then look at the ads for drinks today, but beware — many have sexual amd violent themes. This would make for a very interesting high school project.

Talking about energy drinks is just the beginning. Tickle your children with little bits of information when they can’t escape, like in the car, on the bus, or better yet, while walking in the park. Listen carefully because they will share less and less as they get older, but often what is shared is important.

And what if you missed that influential window of opportunity? Be blunt. Be a parent. Set limits.

Docs worry about kids buzzed on energy drinks

More than 500 new energy drinks launched worldwide this year, and coffee fans are probably too old to understand why.

Energy drinks aren’t merely popular with young people. They attract fan mail on their own MySpace pages. They spawn urban legends. They get reviewed by bloggers. And they taste like carbonated cough syrup.

Vying for the dollars of teenagers with promises of weight loss, increased endurance and legal highs, the new products join top-sellers Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar to make up a $3.4 billion-a-year industry that grew by 80 percent last year.

Thirty-one percent of U.S. teenagers say they drink energy drinks, according to Simmons Research. That represents 7.6 million teens, a jump of almost 3 million in three years.

Nutritionists warn that the drinks, laden with caffeine and sugar, can hook kids on an unhealthy jolt-and-crash cycle. The caffeine comes from multiple sources, making it hard to tell how much the drinks contain. Some have B vitamins, which when taken in megadoses can cause rapid heartbeat, and numbness and tingling in the hands and feet. 

Health risks add to appeal

But the biggest worry is how some teens use the drinks. Some report downing several cans in a row to get a buzz, and a new study found a surprising number of poison-center calls from young people getting sick from too much caffeine.

Danger only adds to the appeal, said Bryan Greenberg, a marketing consultant and an assistant professor of marketing at Elizabethtown College.

“Young people need to break away from the bonds of adults and what society thinks is right,” he said. They’ve grown up watching their parents drink Starbucks coffee, and want their own version. Heart palpitations aren’t likely to scare them off.

Most brands target male teens and 20-somethings. Industry leader Red Bull, the first energy drink on the market, is now the “big arena band” of the bunch “teetering on the edge of becoming too big and too corporate,” Greenberg said.

“Monster is more of a hard rocker, maybe with a little punk thrown in, much more hardcore,” he said. “Rockstar is the more mainstream, glam rock band that’s more about partying then playing.”

(Monster is produced by Corona, Calif.-based Hansen Natural Corp., and Rockstar, distributed by Coca-Cola Co., is made by Las Vegas-based Rockstar Inc.)

The Swedish government studied energy drinks and recommended they not be used to quench thirst or replenish liquid when exercising. And they should not be mixed with alcohol.

Caffeine overdoses

Earlier this month, a new study found a surprising number of caffeine overdose reports to a Chicago poison control center. These involved young people taking alertness pills such as NoDoz or energy drinks, sometimes mixed with alcohol or other drugs. During three years of reports to the center, the researchers found 265 cases of caffeine abuse. Twelve percent of those required a trip to the hospital. The average age of the caffeine user was 21.

“Young people are taking caffeine to stay awake, or perhaps to get high, and many of them are ending up in the emergency department,” said Dr. Danielle McCarthy of Northwestern University, who conducted the study. “Caffeine is a drug and should be treated with caution, as any drug is.”

How much caffeine do energy drinks contain? A University of Florida study found that some products, although served in cans two-thirds the size of a standard can of Coke, contain two to four times the amount of caffeine as that Coke. Energy drinks are unregulated in the United States, but the authors of the University of Florida paper suggest warning labels for them.

And now energy drinks are moving toward bigger cans with some products raising the caffeine content to gain a competitive edge, said John Sicher of Beverage Digest. The biggest, so far, is 24 ounces.

Moderation is key

Parents should think twice before sending their children out the door with an energy drink, said Molly Morgan, a dietitian in upstate New York who consults with schools and talks to students, parents and coaches about energy drinks.

“My message to parents is moderation,” Morgan said. “That means one can a day or less, and view it as a treat, not part of a daily routine.”

Full of sugar and caffeine, energy drinks share the same health problems as soft drinks, she said. But some parents and coaches have bought the message that the drinks can enhance kids’ performance in sports and increase concentration in school.

The evidence is weak, involving tiny studies. British research by a scientist who has since received funding from Red Bull found that among 36 volunteers, those who drank the product improved aerobic endurance and recalled numbers better. A British study of 42 people found Red Bull had no effect on memory, but did improve attention and verbal reasoning.

A University of Wisconsin study of 14 students found that two energy drink ingredients, caffeine and taurine, didn’t improve short-term memory but led to slower heart rates and higher blood pressure. Since some energy drink ingredients generally speed up heart rates, the researchers could only speculate on the cause.

Carol Ann Rinzler, author of “Nutrition for Dummies,” examined the labels of the top three energy drinks.

“The labels simply don’t deliver all the facts,” she said. “For example, while all list caffeine as an ingredient, and most tell you exactly how much caffeine is in the drink, they also list guarana, a caffeine source, as a separate ingredient but don’t tell how much caffeine one gets from the guarana.”

Drinks also deliver sugar high

Rinzler said energy drinks also deliver a huge hit of sugar.

“Drink more than one and you get lots of sugar — 14 teaspoons in two cans, 21 teaspoons in three,” she said. Add in megadoses of some vitamins; unnecessary nutrients (taurine) and more caffeine than plain sodas and you get “a fast up-and-down sugar high and a really rough caffeine buzz,” she said. “And drinking two or three cans a day for a period of weeks or months might trigger some side effects from the vitamin megadoses.”

New brands are appearing at the rate of almost one per day, making it difficult for Denver blogger Dan Mayer to keep up. As a hobby, Mayer reviews each new energy drink he can find. His is not the only energy drink review site, but it’s one of the most popular.

I’ve reviewed a little over 200 now. For most of these, the companies contact me. I’ll find something new at 7-Eleven once in a while, but that’s kind of rare,” he said.

When Mayer meets an energy drink he doesn’t like, his words can sting: “This is the kind of drink that was created by a bunch of rich fat people that have never had an energy drink in their life and really don’t understand why this fad is around, they just know they want to be a part of the profit from it.”

A Los Angeles company has asked him to design a new drink, but Mayer hasn’t quit his day job yet. Pressed to explain the appeal of energy drinks, the 24-year-old spokesman for the buzzed generation said: “It’s Starbucks for kids. With the tons of caffeine they put into these things, it gives you a little legal form of speed essentially.”

Top 10 Energy Drink Dangers

The dangers of energy drinks are getting a lot of press because of the sheer volume of energy stimulating products in the marketplace and the ease of access to these by minors.

While most energy drinks don’t have as much caffeine as a Starbucks’ coffee, they are heavily sweetened and easy to drink, which appeals more to the younger demographic.

Therefore, we are seeing increased incidents of those 18 and younger having dangerous side effects from consuming too many energy drinks at one time.

Top Ten Dangers of Drinking too Many Energy Drinks at One Time

1 Cardiac Arrest: While our Death by Caffeine Calculator can show people how many energy drinks at one time would be lethal, this formula doesn’t apply to everyone. Those with underlying heart conditions have gone into cardiac arrest after just a few energy drinks. Before drinking energy drinks or caffeine, be sure to know your heart’s health.- A new study showed that energy drinks cause more forceful heart contractions, which could be harmful to some with certain heart conditions.

– A French study showed that between 2009 and 2011 there were 257 adverse events related to energy drinks. Most of these were of cardio-vascular origin with 8 cases leading to death. src

2 Headaches and Migraines: Too many energy drinks can lead to severe headaches from the caffeine withdrawal symptoms. Changing the amount of caffeine you ingest daily can cause more frequent headaches.

3 Insomnia: Energy drinks do a good job of keeping people awake, but when abused, they can cause some people to miss sleep all together. This lack of sleep causes impaired functioning and can be dangerous to drive or perform other concentration heavy tasks.

4 Type 2 Diabetes: Because many energy drinks are also very high in sugar, they can eventually wear out the insulin producing cells of the pancreas, which leads to type 2 diabetes.

5 Drug Interaction: Some of the ingredients in energy drinks can interact with prescription medications especially medications taken for depression.

6 Addiction: People can become addicted to caffeine and energy drinks. This can lead to lack of functioning when unable to have the energy drink or a financial stress from having to buy several energy drinks daily.

7 Risky behavior: There was a study published in The Journal of American College Health which showed that teens are more likely to take dangerous risks when high on caffeine. This could result in injury or legal trouble.

8 Jitters and Nervousness: Too much caffeine from energy drinks causes some people to shake and be anxious. This can interfere with performing needed tasks or cause emotional issues. A study out of Perth, Australia found that even just one 250ml energy drink can increase anxiety in young men.

9 Vomiting: Too many energy drinks can lead to vomiting. This causes dehydration and acid erosion of teeth and esophagus if frequent.

10 Allergic Reactions: Because of the many ingredients in energy drinks reactions could occur, from minor itching to airway constriction.

Source: From: Current Opinions in Pediatrics (Apr 2012)

The Disturbing Dangers of Energy Drinks and Energy Drink Addiction: What to Know About 5 Hour Energy

If you have an energy drink addiction, you may think it’s helping to decrease your fatigue and improve your performance and mood, but this is only because your caffeine withdrawal symptoms are being alleviated.

Are you one of the 34% to 51% of young adults regularly using energy drinks, as reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association? Although this topic rarely gets mentioned when medical researchers report on the dangers of energy drinks, consuming energy drinks daily or using energy shots like 5 Hour Energy® every day quickly leads to addiction. An energy drink addiction is really an addiction to caffeine. Studies show that taking in as little as 100 mg of caffeine a day, the amount in about 12 ounces of Red Bull® or ½ serving of a 5 Hour Energy® shot, easily causes addiction in which you develop “tolerance” to its caffeine’s stimulating effects. This means you can no longer get the same energy-boosting effects from your usual dose.

If your energy drink is not energizing you like it once did, you have an energy drink addiction

One recent study concluded that because people who regularly consume caffeine develop tolerance to its effects on sleepiness, they can no longer benefit from caffeine’s ability to enhance mental alertness and performance.[3] Going just half a day without caffeine was associated with greater sleepiness, lower mental alertness, and poorer performance on tasks measuring memory and reaction time.

Classic signs of energy drink addiction

With an energy drink addiction, you first start to need the caffeine just to feel “normal” energy levels; then if you don’t get your usual dose within a short time, you suffer withdrawal symptoms, like sleepiness and headaches. In one study published in the medical journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, people who drank caffeine every day and then abstained for 16 hours had more fatigue/drowsiness, low alertness/difficulty concentrating, mood disturbances, and headaches compared to people who consume little caffeine.[4]

The dangers of energy drinks mixed with alcohol are related to reduced sensation of intoxication and impaired judgment

While dependence on caffeine and energy drink addiction is no laughing matter, the serious dangers of energy drinks as reported in JAMA go beyond the addictive nature of caffeine. In one commentary, authors detail the health effects of mixing highly caffeinated energy drinks with various types of alcohol.[2] With as much as 56 percent of college students consuming these mixtures, the concern is that the caffeine offsets the sedating and intoxicating effects of alcohol. Therefore, the drinkers do not realize that they are intoxicated and are thus much more prone to drinking even more and to impaired judgment relative to risky behavior. The dangers of energy drinks combined with alcohol are mainly related to “increased risk for negative consequences of drinking.” Part of this comes from the misconception by social drinkers that the caffeine from energy drinks can counteract the impairment they would normally get from the alcohol. The research shows, however, that while caffeine allows moderately intoxicated individuals to respond more quickly than they would without the caffeine, their actual performance was even more impaired. In other words, they may respond more quickly, but their responses are still more incorrect, imprecise, and non-inhibited. Obviously, this is not a good combination.

Other commentaries in JAMA on the dangers of energy drinks highlight problems with caffeine poisoning and toxicity.[1] Increased heart rate and blood pressure, irregular heart rate, palpitations are potential dangers of energy drinks related to their high caffeine content. The most common cause of death due to caffeine toxicity is abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias). Drug interactions in which multiple drugs and compounds are being metabolized in the same pathway, underlying heart or liver disease, and the influence of other ingredients in the energy drinks may enhance the caffeine’s toxicity.

According to a free patient handout which JAMA encourages doctors to distribute, adults should consume no more than 500 mg of caffeine per day and adolescents should only consume 100 mg. Children shouldn’t use energy drinks at all. A 16-oz cup of brewed coffee contains 170 mg of caffeine whereas 5-Hour Energy® has 207 mg and Rockstar 2X® has 250 mg per 12 ounces, two of the highest caffeine levels among the contenders.

Natural energy drink alternatives are available for healing from fatigue

If you or someone you care about is has an energy drink addiction, it’s crucial to know about the dangers of energy drinks and the negative aspects of caffeine dependence. Only by breaking your energy drink addiction will you be able to once again enjoy the increased alertness and performance improvements that caffeine offers to those not addicted. If you continue to feel fatigued once you leave the dangers of energy drinks behind and break your addiction (it takes about a week), it’s important to explore other potential underlying causes of your fatigue and to seek safer, more natural fatigue remedies.

Have you known someone who has become hooked on energy drinks?

What have they done to overcome that addiction? What advice might you give to others who are still trying to withdraw? Share your experience with other readers so we can help each other.

[1] JAMA. 2013;309(3):243-244.

[2] JAMA. 2013;309(3):245-246.

[3] Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 Oct 30.

[4] Drug Alcohol Depend. 2012 Aug 1;124(3):229-34.

World Health Organization’s Warning

The World Health Organization (WHO) just released a warning letter concerning the dangers energy drinks pose to young people, especially since they found 68% of adolescents consume them.

To reduce energy drink dangers, they recommend the following to government agencies:

1. Establish an upper caffeine limit on all products.

2. Enforce labeling requirements and sales restrictions to minors.

3. Enforce regulation of the industry to responsibly market their products.

4. Train health care workers to recognize and treat overdose from energy drinks.

5. Screen patients with a history of substance abuse for heavy consumption of energy drinks.

6. Educate the public about the dangers of mixing energy drinks with alcohol.

7. Continue researching the negative side effects energy drinks have on young people.

Moderation is Key

Too much of anything can potentially be dangerous, so moderation is recommended when consuming energy drinks as well. Caffeine (trimethylxanthine) and other ingredients in these beverages are drugs and should be respected.

To reduce the potential energy drink dangers education is key. Consumers need to be aware of how much caffeine is in a drink or product and parents need to know exactly what their children are drinking and talk to them about what is safe.
Sources: US National Library of Medicine,