In the past few years, the consumption of energy drinks has increased at a fast rate. More people, more than ever, are reaching for these drinks in the stores. The reason being, these drinks elevate energy levels and keep you more alert. As such, they have become the go-to for anyone looking to increase their performance. In this article, we will focus on energy drink dangers and possible health risks.
Some people enjoy the sweet nature of these drinks. They even add them to alcohol to make it taste better, which is a common practice. Some people believe that these drinks offer them an array of health benefits. They will thus quench their thirst using them, in the hope of deriving said benefits.
Over time, there has been a concern as to the number of young people consuming these drinks.
What are the energy drink dangers? Some ingredients in energy drinks have adverse effects when you consume too much of them, ranging from headaches to heart palpitations. The biggest culprits are sugar, B vitamins and caffeine.
Curious about the specific risks per ingredient? We will discuss these below.
What is an energy drink?
Well, this is a drink designated to heighten physical alertness and energy levels. Some sports drinks also fall into this category. Generally, such a drink will contain sugar, water, and caffeine as well as other substances which we will outline. Added components include taurine, vitamins, ginseng, and the likes, all of which can have health effects. Together, the ingredients work in elevating the consumer’s energy levels.
Energy drinks are quite different from sports drinks. In the case of the latter, caffeine, as well as other stimulants, is not present. Also, the sugar contained is less. These drinks focus more on mineral salts, which work in elevating physical alertness.
Energy drink ingredients and their dangerous effects
The ingredients present in energy drinks have possible side effects as follows:
Sugar can cause obesity
Most energy drinks on the market have elevated levels of sugar in the form of corn syrup or cane sugar. Some companies are creative in the manner in which they present this sugar. They give it names such as cane juice. The trick here is to make consumers think that what they are consuming is healthy. However, this naming does not take away from the high levels of the sugar used.
What can you expect of this sugar? When consumed in small amounts, the sugar should not hurt your health. However, frequent energy drink users will suffer from a myriad of conditions. From tooth decay to unhealthy weight gain, the likely effects are varied. It gets even worse where the consumer already has an underlying health condition such as diabetes.
Regarding dental erosion, energy drinks pose more risk to dental health as compared to other sweet beverages. That’s because these drinks have high-level combinations of sugar and acidity. The sugar works in creating a conducive environment for the growth of microorganisms. These increase the chances of tooth decay. The acidity gradually weakens the tooth enamel, making the tooth more prone to damage. When consumed over a long time, energy drinks could have adverse effects on consumers’ dental health.
What about sugar-free drinks? That is another trend that has fast gained traction in the market. Consuming such a product may have the consumer thinking that they are free from adverse health effects. That is not the case. What the consumer ends up drinking are artificial sweeteners. The jury is still out as to the safety of these additives. Most institutions term them as safe, but without a consensus on this, the effects are not clear.
If you research this ingredient, you will find that it naturally occurs in the body, and is an amino acid. However, what is present in energy drinks is not natural. Instead, it is a manufactured product. Taurine regulates energy levels alongside muscle contractions and heartbeat. Additionally, it could help people function better when they are in a stimulated state.
In most cases, human bodies can generate the taurine needed for these activities. As such, there is no need for supplementation. Some sources claim that the body might need supplements when it is under stress. That includes where a person has suffered trauma, fatigue, or other such limiting conditions.
To date, there haven’t been reports proving that Taurine can be damaging to the body. However, some countries such as France and Norway had banned its use in the past. They later allowed its use after studies failed to establish a relationship between this and adverse health effects. It owes to the little amounts used in energy drinks. It would take a lot more of taurine for the body to react harshly to this ingredient.
B Vitamins can be harmful in large amounts
Energy drink manufacturers often state that their products include vitamins. They do so in the hope of spreading a message that their products are healthy. But how true is this?
B vitamins are present in the foods people consume. In cases where the diet does not provide enough vitamins, supplementation may be necessary. However, this takes place under the advice of a doctor, once someone undertakes the tests required.
These vitamins work in converting the food consumed into energy. Manufacturers use the vitamins, thus implying that these will add to one’s energy levels upon consumption. The truth to this is yet to get established, as there are differing reports on this.
Some B vitamins do not get absorbed when taken orally. These include B6 and B12. Thus, when small amounts are present in energy drinks, their effects may be little to none.
But what happens if manufacturers use more than is necessary? Or if a consumer drinks one too many energy drinks? Can these vitamins harm them?
Speaking about energy drink dangers, the answer is yes. Too much of anything can be a poison, as is the case with vitamins. Taking more than 35 milligrams of B3 can lead to flushing of the skin. Any more than 3000 mg can harm the liver. To prove this, a study took place where a man consumed five energy drinks each day. He kept up with this habit for three weeks. At the end of this period, he had non-viral hepatitis, pointing to the toxicity of the vitamin intake. The drink he consumed provided him with twice what he needed of B3 daily.
Another vitamin which people should consume with caution is B6. When taken in large amounts exceeding 100 mg, vitamin B6 can cause skin lesions or sensory nerve problems.
People can get enough B vitamins from their diet without the need for supplements. If you are on a strict diet, the doctor can advise you accordingly. But relying on energy drinks for this would only end up hurting you.
At some point, this component was regarded as a B vitamin. However, this changed when it became apparent that the body could produce enough of it. That did away with the need for supplementation.
This component is a carbohydrate derived from the breaking down of glucose. It has positive effects on the nervous system and plays a significant role in managing psychiatric conditions.
Anyone who wants to up their intake on this can consume foods such as beans and nuts, among others. To date, inositol is seen as a safe component and is thus present in energy drinks.
Can you expect any side effects from this ingredient? Well, in small doses, you should probably not experience many changes. But in large doses, effects such as upset stomachs, headaches, fatigue, and lightheadedness are common. However, no toxicity has been reported.
This medicinal herb has been around for centuries on end. People believe that it increases energy levels, reduces fatigue, betters memory, and alleviates stress. Chemicals present in this herb are not naturally found in the body. As such, some people could react to this ingredient.
The standard dose stands at 200 mg a day in a typical energy drink. Most people can handle up to thirteen times this dose without suffering adverse effects. When taken in small amounts, this ingredient will barely provide a consumer with the desired benefits.
What happens if you take too much or are sensitive to this chemical? Side effects are rare, and they vary in intensity. They include vertigo, headache, vaginal bleeding, low blood pressure, fever, and euphoria, among others.
This component naturally occurs in the body, owing to the breaking down of glucose by the liver. For this reason, it would not have much of an effect on you when present in an energy drink. It works in detoxifying the body as well as synthesizing vitamin C. In energy drinks, it aids in preventing the depletion of glycogen supplies in the muscles.
Is there a danger to it? To date, there haven’t been any reported adverse side effects on this component. Debates as to its safety are ongoing.
Ginkgo Biloba is a rare tree from which this ingredient gets derived. This ingredient is present in a select number of drinks. It works towards helping people retain memory and focus on tasks. Also, it doubles as an antidepressant. Anyone hoping to derive these benefits should take about 60 g of this ingredient. The maximum dose per day stands at four times this much.
Are there any risks? Well, this component is often present in small amounts. As such, people consuming the select energy drinks do not consume much of this. However, it has been known to interact with other drugs, causing adverse effects. Examples of such meds include antidepressants and blood thinners. In large amounts Ginkgo Biloba can cause nausea, heart palpitations, lightheadedness, stomach upsets, and restlessness, among others.
Some studies have uncovered that this ingredient can cause thyroid cancer in rats. Whether the same can happen to humans is not yet established, but it is one of the possible energy drink dangers.
So far, we have covered ingredients that are both manufactured and naturally present in your body. This component is an amino acid created by the liver and kidneys. It works in hastening metabolism and thus increases energy levels. Also, for people who work out, this comes in handy in increasing endurance during exercise. Even with all these benefits, it is not clear if you should use its supplements or not.
If one does choose to take this, two to six grams a day should be enough. There is a difference between the L and D types of carnitine. The latter does not aid in endurance and could hurt it.
What happens if one consumes too much? While this amino acid is naturally present in the body, taking too much of it can hurt a person. Effects include but are not limited to headaches, nausea, sleeping difficulties, vomiting, and stuffiness.
This amino acid works in calming the brain, thus allowing one to concentrate even when stimulated. Manufacturers derive this from tea leaves, with green tea boasting of some of the highest concentrations. They claim that the use of this ingredient works in calming down consumers after they take caffeine. Using energy drinks can leave people feeling jittery. That can make it hard for them to focus, and this ingredient thus comes in handy.
Can it be too much? Few reports touch on the side effects of this ingredient. The few that do indicate that doses of more than 300 mg can cause dizziness. Other than that, not much is available as to this amino acid.
This component comes from a South American native plant. For a long time, people have used this ingredient in elevating alertness and energy levels. Here is an interesting fact: Guarana has more caffeine than what’s present in coffee beans. Where Arabica coffee comprises 1-2% caffeine, guarana boasts of 3-4%, which is impressive.
However, the difference does not end with the percentages. Instead, it extends to the presence of other molecules such as theobromine and theophylline. These are also present in other caffeinated products. But the concentrations are different in guarana.
The effect of this ingredient varies from one person to the other. Some state that it provides them with more concentration. Others, on the other hand, feel that it cannot live up to what they get from coffee.
The focus, in this case, is on its side effects. Is this ingredient one of the energy drink dangers? That’s something we will cover under the impact of caffeine later on in this article.
Often, manufacturers will present products to the market, terming them to be rich in antioxidants. Well, what are these antioxidants that they use in their marketing campaigns? These are molecules that aid the body in recovery as well as protect it from free radicals. People who wish to keep aging at bay often consume these in high amounts.
Examples include vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. For most energy drinks, the present antioxidant is vitamin C. These molecules aid in preventing damage to the cells and protect people from diseases. However, one cannot expect to get their daily dose from the intake of energy drinks. That owes to the little amounts present in these drinks.
And where one takes the molecules in excess, they end up getting flushed from the body. Some molecules, though, remain and cause harm to the body. A good example would be vitamin A, which accumulates in body tissues and results in liver damage.
This ingredient comes from shrub leaves and is a source of caffeine, like guarana. Some reports indicate that this component could have fewer adverse effects compared to other caffeine sources. For this reason, it has fast become an ingredient for many energy drinks. Manufacturers who want to follow the natural route have taken to incorporating this in their products.
Does it have any effects? The answer is yes. As a caffeinated product, it is sure to have some effects, based on the consumed quantity. The caffeine section will have more information on this.
This component is naturally found in the body and increases upon the consumption of meat. It works in supplying energy to muscles. For this reason, it is common in energy drinks marketed for use in bodybuilding. Its consumption should be regulated. Where moderation is not in place, possible effects include kidney damage. Reports on this are not conclusive.
This component has fast become popular in energy drinks, thanks to its richness in antioxidants. With all this popularity, one might think that this ingredient is the go-to for antioxidants. But that is not the case. It turns out that this trend owes to the hype in the market and not the benefits derived from this berry. Thus, there is no scientific basis for its inclusion in energy drinks. It is definitely not one of the energy drink dangers.
This ingredient is available in select drinks. Manufacturers market it as a liver detoxifying agent. It is not in place to enhance people’s energy levels. But instead, it works in countering hangovers owing to the mixing of energy drinks with alcohol. While this may be true, the amounts in energy drinks would have little effect on hangovers.
This component is present in a few drinks and works in increasing blood flow. People who work out often can benefit from increased stamina. This ingredient is present in plant-based diets. Supplementation is also possible, with a cap rate of 3.6 grams each day. Any more than this can lead to kidney damage over time.
Other than the above ingredients, manufacturers also add preservatives, acidity regulators, coloring, emulsifiers, neutralizing agents, and artificial coloring.
People have consumed caffeine for a long time, owing to its legal status as a stimulant. Not only is it present in energy drinks, but it is also an ingredient in tea, sweets, chocolate, medicines, coffee, soft drinks, and more. People often rely on it to enhance their energy levels and increase focus. Maybe an assignment is running late, and one needs to keep sleepiness at bay. Taking caffeine would help one fight fatigue and get the work done.
Even with these benefits, its effects on consumers are not always positive. That is why there are so many reports encouraging people to lower their consumption of this ingredient. People have suffered a myriad of effects, including irritability, stomach upsets, headaches, restlessness, tremors, agitation, and more. Not everyone will experience these or similar effects as reactions are different in every case.
One might think that these effects are only present when one consumes caffeine in high amounts. But that is not the case. Even moderate consumption can pave the way for these reactions.
People should adhere to the recommended daily limits. Exceeding these continuously is what leads to caffeine toxicity in the body. And that exhibits as nausea, heart problems, convulsions, and more.
Where one takes coffee in excess over a long period, they can fall into a state of chronic intoxication. Under this, they suffer headaches, increased heart rates, tremors, stomach upsets, and other such factors.
Also, the continued use of caffeine leads to dependence, where failure to take caffeine leads to withdrawal symptoms. When one takes caffeine, they feel good and focused. Without that, they become irritable, have low energy, can get depressed, and have trouble focusing. These effects come into play within a day of lacking caffeine.
Giving caffeine to children will result in the same effects, even in more intensity. Also, people with chronic conditions are more sensitive to caffeine. They can suffer these effects even when they consume less than the recommended daily limit. Furthermore, anyone on medication should be careful when handling caffeinated products. They could interact with the meds and lead to severe health conditions. These combinations are energy drink dangers.
How to prevent energy drink health risks
With the above side effects of these main components, it is clear that caution is necessary when handling energy drinks. What can people do to stay safe?
For one, relying on energy drinks as a source of health benefits is not advisable. Any amounts derived from these would not be sufficient to meet daily recommended limits. One would thus have to consume more energy drinks to reach their goal, increasing the chances of health conditions.
Secondly, while energy drinks provide caffeine, they should not serve as anyone’s primary source of the same. Where one must have caffeine, coffee, and tea are the healthier choices.
Thirdly, not anyone can consume these drinks. Underlying health conditions can bar one from consuming them. An example would be where one suffers from palpitations.
Fourth, moderation is the key to staying healthy.
Fifth, taking these drinks can interact with any meds one is using. That should be a point of consideration. The effects may be disastrous, these are real energy drink dangers.
Sixth, people often try to find ways to stay hydrated while avoiding water. Sure, water has a bland taste to some people. However, no drink can fully substitute this purity. While it may be tempting to use energy drinks to hydrate, that is not advisable. For every energy drink can consumed, one should drink at least one glass of water.
The consumption of energy drinks has been linked to several adverse effects. They include palpitations, numbing of the skin, insomnia, tremors, agitation, chest pain, trouble breathing, dizziness, and more. These effects could result from the combination of the ingredients’ side effects. They could also point to a reaction to one of the components. Some people will be okay with caffeine in tea but could react to it in an energy drink.
People should understand what’s present in energy drinks before consuming them. That way, they can make an informed decision when doing so. Stay safe!