Energy drinks have fast risen in popularity since their introduction. People of all ages consume these beverages, thus raising concerns over their safety. It gets complicated when teens and children consume these drinks in large quantities.
It owes to youngsters’ systems being unable to process caffeine in such high quantities. In some cases, teens have overdosed, and some have died as a result of consumption.
These drinks have been known to cause short term effects such as nausea and tremors. One might wonder what effect they would have on body organs in the long term, such as kidneys.
Are energy drinks bad for your kidneys? Caffeine in energy drinks increase the risk of kidney stones. If you have diabetes, the sugar in energy drinks increase the risk of permanent kidney damage. Energy drinks have little impact on the kidneys in the short term. However, frequent consumption of large quantities of energy drinks puts your kidney health at risk.
Energy drink ingredients and their effect on kidneys
What are people ingesting per can of energy drink? For the most part, people consume caffeine, sugar, and water. Other stimulants may be present in these drinks, as well as additives such as B vitamins. All these play a role in how effective the drink will be. Also, all these ingredients pass through the body and will eventually get to the kidney.
Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients in energy drinks and their effect on the kidneys.
Caffeine in energy drinks
Caffeine is present in varying amounts, based on the manufacturer. Often, a can of 250 ml will contain as many as 80 mg of caffeine. That is quite high compared to what you would get from a cup of coffee.
Nevertheless, this amount is standard, and some companies will even offer higher quantities. The goal is to give consumers an energy boost that will keep them coming for more.
On average, most people consume up to 300 mg of caffeine spread throughout the day. That means that three or four standard cans would be enough. It gets complicated when people graduate to more concentrated drinks in larger amounts – the chances of an overdose increase. While it is rare, overdosing is possible and could lead to ventricular fibrillation.
Caffeine and genetic kidney diseases
There has been a fear in the past, pointing to caffeine influencing the growth of kidney cysts. That has been especially so regarding patients at risk of genetic kidney diseases.
Recent studies show that caffeine intake has not affected the progression of kidney cysts. As such, people at risk should not avoid this stimulant owing to fear.
Caffeine and kidney stones
Having kidney stones is no walk in the park. If you have ever had them, then you know that passing them can be excruciating. It thus would not help if you consumed anything that could lead to their formation.
Anyone at risk of kidney stones should consider limiting their caffeine intake. A good example would be anyone who has experienced oxalate stones. These often occur when people drink coffee regularly.
You should note that energy drinks often have more caffeine compared to a traditional coffee brew. So an energy drink would put you at more risk of kidney stones. While this risk is not given, you stand a high chance of developing these stones if you take caffeine.
Caffeine and kidney cancer
Many reports surround the possibility of caffeine influencing kidney cancer. Reports on this are inconclusive so far. However, some point to caffeine, reducing the risk of renal cell carcinoma. The truth behind this is not clear yet.
This amino acid is present in many energy drinks on the market. Taurine is an amino acid that you can find in high-protein foods such as fish and milk. Typically, your body should have enough of this, and supplementation is often unnecessary.
However, people believe that this ingredient can enhance their performance. It is thus common in sports supplements as well as energy drinks.
When consumed in small quantities, taurine should not affect one’s body. However, in large amounts, taurine can have damaging effects on the kidneys, more so in people with chronic kidney disease.
It happens when this amino acid gets consumed over a long period. That way, it accumulates in the kidneys and can thus wreak havoc in the system. You should note, though, that small servings over an extended period are not likely to affect your organs.
Sugar in energy drinks
If you were to look at the composition of energy drinks, you would realize that you consume a lot of sugar. Sugar in energy drinks works as a source of energy. These are good for short-term effects. However, in the long term, sugar consumption leads to the onset of obesity, weight gain, diabetes, and other such conditions.
When you gain weight or develop diabetes, you are sure to experience some problems, including changes in the kidneys. In small amounts, sugar will not hurt your kidneys. The problem comes about when blood sugar becomes too high, which can happen to people with diabetes.
When the level is higher than 180 mg per dl, sugar spillage into the urine can start. For someone whose kidneys are healthy, that should not be a problem. But people with diabetes can face kidney damage as a result.
The filtering units in kidneys work alongside blood vessels—these work in circulating blood through the kidneys and other parts of the body. When blood sugar levels are high, these blood vessels narrow.
If care is not in place, blood vessels can clog over time. That means that they cannot deliver blood as needed, leading to the damage of kidneys.
The problem with kidney damage is that it is not apparent in the early stages. Most people do not know they have a problem until it has progressed to further stages. The best way to tell if you have a reason for concern would be to get a urine test annually. That way, you can prevent your kidneys from failing.
Anyone with diabetes should work on controlling their blood sugar. That means that they should steer clear of drinks with too many sugars, such as energy drinks. They should also exercise and follow a healthy diet. It also helps to maintain blood pressure, as this can impact their kidneys.
B Vitamins effect on the kidney
Consuming too many of these B vitamins is not a good idea. It can lead to adverse effects on your body. However, it cannot affect your kidneys, which is a good thing. Consuming too little of B6 can lead to the development of kidney stones. Let us take a closer look at the role of these vitamins in your renal health.
B vitamins go by many names. For example, B6 also goes by the name pyroxidal. These vitamins include B6, B1, B2, 12, niacin, folacin, pantothenic acid, and biotin.
These nutrients work in promoting the release of energy consumed in food. That’s why you should eat a balanced diet as you need vitamins to release that energy. Manufacturers use these vitamins in a bid to make energy boosts in energy drinks fast.
Other than the release of energy, these nutrients also aid in the formation of red blood cells. Furthermore, they maintain the nervous system and aid in hormone production, among others.
Now, these nutrients fall under the category of water-soluble vitamins. That means that your body absorbs what it needs and passes the rest to the kidneys. Here, the extra vitamins undergo elimination and end up in the urine as waste.
For this reason, it is quite hard to consume too many of these vitamins. Most of the excess nutrients would get passed in the urine. However, too many of these nutrients contribute to high blood glucose levels.
Earlier, we covered the effects of heightened blood sugar levels on the kidneys. You thus know that this can cause kidney damage and failure in the long term. High B vitamin levels can also cause heart and skin problems.
However, it is not all bad when it comes to these nutrients. Studies have shown that an intake of B6 can work in lowering one’s risk of developing kidney stones. That is the case for people with a genetic disorder known as type 1 primary hyperoxaluria.
Should you rely on energy drinks for B vitamins? The answer is no. As long as you follow a healthy diet, you should get enough nutrients for the proper working of your body. In some cases, your doctor may recommend that you take some supplements.
Caffeine has adverse effects when taken in large quantities, more so in infrequent drinkers. They can suffer elevated blood pressure, among other problems. That may make you think that this stimulant could affect your kidneys too.
Well, there is insufficient data on this. As things stand, caffeine does not seem to affect kidneys or cause any long-term problems. As per some reports, this stimulant could work in protecting these organs.
However, people at risk of kidney stones should proceed with caution, lest they aggravate the situation. The jury is still out regarding this issue of caffeine affecting kidneys. The same goes for B vitamins and taurine.
But with sugar, kidney damage is a probable effect, owing to elevated sugar levels. People at risk of diabetes, as well as those who suffer from this condition, should thus proceed with caution.
Energy drinks may not impact your kidneys in the short term. However, frequent consumption of large quantities of these drinks puts your kidney health at risk. Practice moderation, and stay safe!