4 Terrible Facts About Energy Drinks

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
Published on , Last Updated on

Open soda cans. Energy drinks are quickly becoming a public health crisis with the high level of caffeine and intoxication.Usually marketed with the lure of more energy or a mental or physical boost, energy drinks usually feature a cocktail of caffeine and vitamins (and maybe something like ginseng or taurine). Sales in the U.S. are on the rise, with a 10 percent increase from 2008 to 2012. This is a global concern—yes, concern. Energy drinks are quickly becoming a public health crisis since high caffeine levels could lead to caffeine intoxication, a condition that can lead to “heart palpitations, hypertension, nausea and vomiting, convulsions, psychosis, and in rare cases, death.” [1] That alone sounds like reason enough to stay far away from those evil energy drinks.

The Disappointing Reality About Energy Drinks

Energy drinks aren’t just geared toward college students looking to add an extra jump to their all nighters. In fact, many people of all ages are consuming energy drinks as a mere substitute for water, soda, and coffee. Here are some of the facts about energy drinks you should know.

1. Energy Drinks Are Marketed to Kids

No matter how old you are, energy drinks are just awful for your body! The Academy of Pediatrics even advises kids and teens to avoid them altogether because of the possibility of serious health risks. [2] But even that warning won’t stop advertisers. A recent study suggested energy drinks are more heavily marketed on TV channels geared to teens and kids. [3] As kids get older, this marketing suggestion could even lead to binge drinking. With energy drinks a common mixer for alcohol, teens that mix the two are 4 times more likely to binge drink. [4]

2. Energy Drinks Are Portrayed as Buzz-Producing Drugs…and Kind of Are

Do you just have to start your day with a cup of coffee (or two—maybe even three)? Unless you’re drinking decaf, you’re likely craving the caffeine. Well, energy drinks are packed with it, and some are concerned what that high-caffeine content will do in the mix of other ingredients. [5] So if scientists still aren’t sure about the caffeine issue, do you really want that drink in your body? One study even suggests kids who drink energy drinks are 66 percent more likely to be “at risk for hyperactivity or other attention problems.” [6] Is that buzz really worth it?

3. Energy Drinks Ruin Athletic Performance

After drinking an energy drink, “athletes felt they had more strength, power and resistance,” but that’s really only the high caffeine providing that edge. [7] Those other ingredients in energy drinks provide no more energy than you’ll find in a soda. What you could get instead is increased “insomnia, nervousness and level of stimulation in the hours following competition,” and, in the long run, that could sabotage your athletic performance.

4. Energy Drinks Are Bad for Your Heart

There are lots of reasons energy drinks are evil, but this one might take the cake. Energy drinks are a popular choice during exercise and when out at a club, and so many people drink them one after another. [8] Not only could this lead to caffeine intoxication as mentioned earlier, but recent research suggests possible heart problems: “angina (chest pain), cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)”—“even sudden death.”

One Final Thought

Energy drinks could even be contributing to the downfall of society, a fact that is recognized by some. A recent study suggests “boys who consumed energy drinks at least weekly spent approximately four additional hours per week playing video games.” But it’s more than just playing video games; teens that drink energy drinks are more likely to participate in other negative behaviors like smoking or, returning to my first point from above, binge drinking. [9] [10]

What do you think about energy drinks? Tell us in the comments.

References (10)
  1. Breda, J. J. et al. Energy Drink Consumption in Europe: A Review of the Risks, Adverse Health Effects, and Policy Options to Respond. Frontiers in Public Health.
  2. American Academy of Pediatrics. Clinical Report–Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks for Children and Adolescents: Are They Appropriate? American Academy of Pediatrics.
  3. Emond, J. A. et al. Patterns of Energy Drink Advertising Over US Television Networks. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 47 (2).
  4. Emond, J. A. et al. Energy Drink Consumption and the Risk of Alcohol Use Disorder among a National Sample of Adolescents and Young Adults. Journal of Pediatrics. 165 (6).
  5. Institute of Food Technologists. Energy drinks raise new questions about caffeine's safety. ScienceDaily.
  6. Schwartz, D. L. et al. Energy Drinks and Youth Self-Reported Hyperactivity/Inattention Symptoms. Academic Pediatrics.
  7. Salinero, J. J. et al. The use of energy drinks in sport: perceived ergogenicity and side effects in male and female athletes. British Journal of Nutrition.
  8. European Society of Cardiology. Energy drinks can cause heart problems, study suggests. ScienceDaily.
  9. Larson, N. et al. Adolescent Consumption of Sports and Energy Drinks: Linkages to Higher Physical Activity, Unhealthy Beverage Patterns, Cigarette Smoking, and Screen Media Use. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 46 (3).
  10. Droste, N. et al. Combined Alcohol and Energy Drink Use: Motivations as Predictors of Consumption Patterns, Risk of Alcohol Dependence, and Experience of Injury and Aggression. Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. 38 (7).

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • Mark Baumann

    Here is a breakdown of the typical chemicals in an energy drink.
    Humans can abuse any substance… even water. Energy drinks can be consumed responsibly and be a benefit to many. Your article should focus on that, not just throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

    Taurine is an amino acid that is naturally produced by the human body. It is an essential amino acid in many tissues. It is not incorporated into proteins as other amino acids are, but it plays major roles in the body. The body uses it to help regulate heartbeat, muscle contractions, and energy levels. It assists in bile acid conjugation, detoxification, membrane stabilization, osmo regulation, modulation of excitatiry neurotransmission, and intracellular calcium levels. Although it has not been proven, it is thought that under certain “stress conditions” such as illness, physical exertion, or injury the body does not create enough of this amino acid and that supplementing what the body makes on its own can be of benefit. It is estimated that most people take in about 60mg of Taurine each day. However, supplementation of Taurine can far exceed this amount and can readily increase Taurine levels in many
    tissues, which may prove beneficial.

    Inositol is found in bran heavy cereals, nuts, beans, cantaloupe, melons, and oranges. It is the basis for a number of signaling and secondary messenger molecules, is involved in a number of biological processes, including: intracellular calcium (Ca2+), concentration control, cell membrane maintenance, serotonin modulation, breakdown of fats, and reduction of cholesterol.
    Inositol is the common name of myoinositol, the only form of Inositol
    utilized by the body as a nutrient. Inositol is involved in the
    glucuronic acid and pentose phosphate pathways that are responsible for products such as glucose, glucuronolactone, and water.

    Glucuronolactone is a naturally occurring chemical compound produced by the metabolism of glucose in the human liver. It is an important structural component of nearly all connective tissues. It is known to improve memory retention and concentration and also is an antidepressant and stimulant. Glucuronolactone is a naturally occurring metabolite of glucose. Studies show that Glucuronolactone provides an immediate energy boost,
    and can help improve immediate recall and decrease reaction time. It also helps to purge harmful toxins from the body and increase subjective alertness.

    L-Carnitine is an amino acid usually created by your
    liver and kidneys it helps ‘up’ your metabolism and energy levels.
    Because of the way it interacts with your body, it may act as a
    thermogenic and help increase weight loss and endurance during exercise. You can safely consume up to 6000 mg per day. L-Carnitine is a trimethylated amino acid that plays essential roles in many areas of the body, including fatty acid translocation and muscle function. Carnitine is also acetylated into the ester Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALCAR) in the brain, liver, and kidney. ALCAR also plays a variety of roles in the body, including increasing acetylcholine production and stimulation of protein and membrane phospholipids synthesis. Orally administered L-Carnitine and ALCAR have profound anti-aging and nutrient repartitioning properties, and the effects of supplementing with them
    have been extensively researched in many areas, including exercise
    performance, weight loss, treatment of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s,
    diabetic neuropathy, depression and many other neurological disorders, treatment of alcoholism, treatment of cardiovascular diseases, insulin resistance, and many others.

  • Jasper

    I’m not advocating energy drinks, but it is highly hypocritical to color these drinks which if used modestly, are relatively safe. And, then to overlook coffee, which has as much or more caffeine than normal energy drinks. Coffee is way more dangerous. I see old people sitting around in a coffee chat, drinking cup after cup of coffee, with each cup as much or more caffeine than a can of energy drink. They’re old and still alive, though the coffee makes talk way too much.

  • Paige

    Thank you for posting this!

  • Regarding mainstream energy drinks, we’d like to clarify a few common misconceptions: 1) With respect to caffeine content, most mainstream energy drinks have about half the amount of caffeine as a similar sized coffeehouse coffee. 2) Energy drinks have been safely enjoyed for nearly three decades around the globe and for about 15 years in the U.S. 3) Many energy drinks also include naturally
    occurring ingredients, such as taurine, an amino acid found naturally in the human body, as well as in common food items such as seafood, scallops and poultry.

    It’s important to keep the facts regarding mainstream energy drinks in check – and understand that these beverages can be enjoyed in moderation, just as with other sources of caffeine and calories.
    -American Beverage Association

  • Eric Stevens

    There is also the concept of correlation versus causation. Saying that people are 66% more likely to be hyperactive if they drink energy drinks or that energy drinks encourage kids to play video games or that they cause people to binge drink are all examples of this. The ingredients in energy drinks are proven to increase focus, which would explain why folks who have attention challenges choose to drink them. Energy drinks don’t cause people to be hyperactive. Likewise, teenagers drink energy drinks for the same reason. They don’t cause kids to play video games. Also, people who binge drink do so for long periods of time and mixing energy with alcohol AIDS in keeping them alert, which is why vodka and Red Bull are such popular casino drinks.

    Any correlation can be twisted to prove any point we want if we leave the causation out of it.

    Honorable mention: a lot of things can hinder athletic performance, and if you’re a professional athlete, maybe that fraction of a second could matter. But they aren’t the ones drinking energy drinks. The people drinking energy drinks are recreational or casually competitive folks whose money problems cause more insomnia than a energy drink ever could. Granted, chugging one could keep someone up at night, but that’s just a matter of responsible consumption.

    Also, there is no accounting for people drinking responsibly. If you drink anything, including Gatorade, there will be adverse affects.

    There is an argument for energy drinks being bad for you. This wasn’t a good one.

  • DoubtingThomas

    Sounds like you’re very protective when it comes to your video games.

  • Eric Stevens

    I also must be a binge drinking, hyperactive, gambling insomniac too, right? Because I also disassociate the argument against energy drinks from those folks too. I’m protective of logical arguments and dissemination of accurate information.

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