Not To Be a Buzzkill, But Your Energy Drink Has Some Stuff In It That’s Ruining Your Health12 months ago | Sports Drink
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
According to a CNN report, the global energy drink market is expected to reach $61 billion by 2021. Energy drinks, like Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar, are popular because they are supposed to do exactly what their name suggests - give you energy! With non-stop schedules and 24/7 digital access, it’s no wonder why many may reach for an energy drink when a regular cup of coffee doesn’t seem to do the trick.
These drinks are particularly popular among young people. This makes sense because energy drinks are usually marketed towards a younger audience. The marketing campaigns usually highlight enhanced sports performance as well as a rockstar appeal if you drink these beverages. And since teenagers are told to stay away from alcohol and coffee, an energy drink may feel like a great substitute.
“Next to multivitamins, energy drinks are the most popular dietary supplement consumed by American teens and young adults. Men between the ages of 18 and 34 years consume the most energy drinks, and almost one-third of teens between 12 and 17 years drink them regularly,” reports the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
Common ingredients in energy drinks include:
- Caffeine (primary ingredient).
- Guarana (a South American fruit, also called ‘Brazilian Cocoa,’ with a white flesh that surrounds dark, brown seeds. These seeds contain more than twice as much caffeine as coffee beans. In energy drinks, guarana is often a major source of caffeine).
- Sugars (however, there are also plenty of diet energy drinks that substitute sugar with artificial sweeteners).
- Taurine (“As one of the most common amino acids in the body, taurine can support brain development and regulate the body’s mineral and water levels, and could even improve athletic performance. It’s found naturally in meat, seafood and milk,” Time Magazine. Amount of taurine in energy drinks can be excessive).
- Ginseng (an herb taken to treat a variety of issues such as stress and boosting immunity).
- B vitamins and other additives (“Your body only needs a certain amount of B vitamins to function normally. And if you’re getting adequate amounts in your diet, as many people do, additional B vitamins won’t provide a surge in energy,” according to Berkeley. “Actually, B vitamins are water soluble, and any extra that you take simply pass through the body and get eliminated in your urine”).
The truth of the matter is many people consume these drinks without really knowing what’s in them and are unaware of the potential dangers of consuming too much of the ingredients in these drinks. For example, we previously discussed a teenage boy who died from a caffeine overdose after consuming too many caffeine-rich beverages, one of them being an energy drink.
And in another tragic story, a 14-year-old girl reportedly died from going into cardiac arrest after consuming two, 24-ounce Monster Beverage Corps. drinks within a 24-hour period.
According to one report, an autopsy determined that the girl died of cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) as a result of caffeine toxicity that “impeded her heart's ability to pump blood.”
(In addition to this, the girl was said to have suffered from “an inherited disorder that can weaken blood vessels”).
“There's been several cases described of people that have gone into cardiac arrest after consuming more than one energy beverage, and when they've done sort of further analysis on these individuals, they haven't been able to find anything abnormal other than the very high levels of caffeine and taurine in the toxicology," said Dr. John Higgins, a sports cardiologist, in a report.
(“As the heart beats, it pumps blood through a system of blood vessels, called the circulatory system. The vessels are elastic tubes that carry blood to every part of the body,” according to Cleveland Clinic).
And now a recent study found evidence that consuming just one energy drink may negatively impact blood vessel function. Study participants included 44 healthy medical students in their twenties who did not smoke. Researchers tested their endothelial function before each of the students drank a 24-ounce energy drink.
(The purpose of endothelial function testing is to assess the function of the endothelium (the cells that line the blood vessels)).
The students then underwent endothelial function testing 90 minutes after consuming the energy drink.
“They found vessel dilation was on average 5.1 percent in diameter before the energy drink and fell to 2.8 percent diameter after, suggesting acute impairment in vascular function,” according to this report discussing the study.
What this means is that their blood vessels became more narrow after consuming the energy drinks, and these vessels provide blood flow to the heart. The researchers “believe that the negative effect may be related to the combination of ingredients in the energy drink, such as caffeine, taurine, sugar and other herbals on the endothelium (lining of the blood vessels).”
And when these energy drinks are mixed with exercise and/or alcohol, it can really be a lethal concoction. In another devastating story, a 25-year-old man reportedly died from “aspiration of gastric contents,” which means vomit was breathed into his airways, after getting sick from consuming alcohol with two, 16-ounce cans of the energy drink Redbull.
According to recent research, “More than half of young people experience side effects from energy drinks...Some 55 percent of those aged between 12 and 24 years old suffer everything from vomiting and chest pains to even seizures from the drinks, despite most consuming less than the recommended one-to-two beverages a day.”
On top of this, “As well as the drinks' alarmingly high caffeine levels, the researchers believe consuming them with alcohol or during exercise makes them even more dangerous, and urge for them to be banned for young children.”
I think it’s safe to say that energy drinks are not an ideal beverage choice. It is my opinion that the risks outweigh the benefits, especially when it comes to the health of children and young people. And in reality, these drinks will only provide a quick surge of energy from the caffeine and additives. To feel healthy and have lasting energy, we need plenty of sleep and a diet rich in nutrient-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables.
It is also important to get to the root of why you or your child may lack energy and feel lethargic. A great way to get to the bottom of this is to assess your nutrient status. A comprehensive nutrient test will definitively determine if you have too much or too little of a certain nutrient. If you are not nutritionally balanced, a competent healthcare professional can help you make the necessary dietary changes and/or recommend quality supplements you can take in a safe manner.
And if you really need an ‘energy drink,’ allow me to suggest you get it in the form of vitamin therapy ‘cocktails.’ I utilize these cocktails monthly to address my inevitable nutrient absorption issues. The pH IV Vitamin Drips provide hydration and vitamins directly into the bloodstream to help boost my nutritional status and help with energy levels. I believe this has successfully boosted my immunity, energy and good health. Also check out our nutrient injections and pushes.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.