I very rarely go into convenience stores, but I happened to be in one a few days ago and I noticed the wide selection of energy drinks available – Red Bull, Rockstar, Monster, Full Throttle, just to name a few.
Not being something I purchase or use, I was a little surprised to see just how many types there are – clearly they have become very popular!
So I thought it would be a good time to review the safety of energy drinks.
Energy drinks are beverages that contain stimulant drugs (usually including caffeine). They also usually contain sugar, herbs and other vitamins. They are marketed as providing mental and physical stimulation – give you more energy and make you feel more alert.
However, there are many health risks associated with consuming energy drinks, including the following:
Caffeine is one of the main ingredients, and too much caffeine can cause headaches, migraines, irritability, nervousness and rapid heart rate. The amount of caffeine in one energy drink is typically more than the recommended amount for children and adolescents; therefore, children and adolescents can easily consume excessive amounts of caffeine.
Niacin is often added to energy drinks because it helps the body convert food into energy. However, too much niacin may cause burning, tingling, itching and redness in the face, arms and chest; dizziness; rapid heart rate; vomiting and diarrhea.
Consuming energy drinks can raise your blood pressure. If you already have high blood pressure, this may increase your risk of stroke and other health problems associated with high blood pressure.
If you already have a heart condition, consuming energy drinks can even lead to cardiac arrest.
For some, consuming caffeinated beverages increases feelings of anxiety. Consuming large doses of caffeine from energy drinks may increase anxiety and can even lead to panic attacks.
Energy drinks are meant to give you more energy and keep you alert; therefore, it is not surprising that they can also lead to insomnia.
Some of the ingredients in energy drinks can interact with some medications – particularly those for depression.
Consider these risks before you reach for an energy drink. There are healthier ways to increase your energy and alertness – a healthy diet, regular physical activity and adequate sleep.