If you’re one of those super busy, go-getter types who have a lot worth staying awake for, you may think that energy drinks are your best friend. They’re great, right -especially if you don’t like coffee. They come in loud, exciting-colored cans, they taste like fruity candy on steroids, and they give you an energy boost that feels approximately like the Hulk punching you in the face with a fistful of caffeine. Energy drinks, unfortunately, are not the end-all be-all to man’s neverending battle against sleep that they appear to be. In fact, they’re really dangerous. Drinking one every once in a while when you really need a caffeine boost that’s easy to carry with you – in a can – is okay, but drinking them daily, even weekly can cause major health problems.
Caffeine is a Drug
Some energy drinks contain the same amount of caffeine as about 5 cans of soda, and some people - especially kids, teens, and 20-somethings, drink 4 or 5 energy drinks a day. Think about the giant 24-packs of soda you see in the grocery store, and imagine one of those disappearing into your body – do you see where there might be cause for alarm? There are anywhere from 100 to 300 energy drink overdoses and poisonings every month. More startlingly, each month, 1 or 2 of these cases involve children under the age of 5.
Other ingredients in energy drinks designed to activate the caffeine and heighten its effects exacerbate this caffeine overdose. Drinking too many energy drinks can cause caffeine induced migraines, nausea, diarrhea, jitters, shakes, and insomnia, and those are the milder side effects. More serious side effects include seizures, hallucinations, heart palpitations, and strokes. There have been recorded cases of seizures and other more serious side effects after as few as 2 of these leading name-brand energy drinks.
Other Health Problems Caused By Energy Drinks
In rare cases where someone makes it through a few weeks of 4 or 5 energy drinks a day without succumbing to energy drink poisoning, it is possible to get potassium poisoning. Besides this rarer side effect, there are just plain some chemicals in energy drinks that you do not want to put in your body. Red Bull, for example contains Taurine, a sulfuric acid that was first isolated in the bile of a bull – where do you think the drink gets its name? Energy drinks also contain the harmful chemicals ephedrine, carnitine, creatine and inositol. Ephedrine, for example is an extremely dangerous weight loss stimulant that poses a pretty intense threat to your heart. In case you were thinking it, don’t get any ideas – the fact that an energy drink has a weight-loss chemical in it means absolutely nothing. With all of the sugar and calories in it, there is absolutely no chance an energy drink will help you lost weight – probably the opposite in fact.
The Dangers of Mixing and Matching
Energy drinks rarely cause deaths on their own, but with the help of their buddy alcohol, anything is possible. Recently, the energy drink/booze combo “4 Loco” took a major public bashings after several teen deaths were linked to its consumption were recorded in a shockingly short time period. The extreme “up” caused by the caffeine combined with the super low brought on by alcohol, in conjunction with the fact that both had been consumed in irresponsible levels was more than the teens’ bodies could handle. While 4 Loco is undergoing major health reassessments, and is even illegal in some foreign countries and U.S. States, other popular alcoholic drinks containing energy drink like Jager Bombs, All Nighter Cocktails, Cold War Cocktails and far too many others to mention are still at large.
The bottom line here? If you haven’t gotten the taste for these energy drinks, don’t start now. If you do love them, do consider getting off them as quickly as possible. And, please, never mix them with alcohol!
The Health Local Staff is a team of writers and experts dedicated to bringing you the latest health, nutrition and lifestyle information at www.healthlocal.ca.