Energy Drinks 101

Food, Hometown Cooking
on November 9, 2012

If you’ve ever been exhausted with a full day ahead, you have probably wished for a quick and effective pick-me-up — and you wouldn’t be alone. It seems many of today’s tired and droopy population are turning to a liquid solution. According to the National Science Foundation, energy drinks are more popular than ever before. These quick fixes may seem like a solution, but are they? Find out what you need to know before considering energy drinks with this educational primer, energy drinks 101.

Energy drinks defined. Energy drinks are beverages with ingredients that temporarily increase the level of available energy in the body. There are many varieties of energy drinks available today, but the Mayo Clinic explains that most rely on caffeine for that power boost. Energy drinks may also contain large amounts of sugar and other stimulants. Energy drinks should not be confused with hydration or sports drinks, which are designed to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes during intense exercise.

Effects of energy drinks. Energy drinks fire up a temporary boost in energy due to the caffeine, sugar and other stimulants. The National Science Foundation states that the average energy drink may contain anywhere from 150 to 500 milligrams of caffeine in an 8-ounce serving. At those levels, caffeine intoxication is a strong possibility, especially when additional stimulants are also in the energy drink. These types of energy drinks cause a temporary boost of energy followed by a crash of low energy. They may lead to dehydration as well.

Energy drink safety for kids and adults. Energy drinks have been studied for safety and toxicology. In general, drinking an energy drink once in a while may not pose a health problem for healthy adults or adolescents. The National Science Foundation warns that these drinks may lead to serious cardiovascular problems, exacerbate psychiatric issues and cause drug interactions. The Mayo Clinic adds that energy drinks with caffeine and sugar may cause weight gain, nervousness, irritability, insomnia, rapid heartbeat and an increase in blood pressure. With the increasing interest in energy drinks, children are especially at risk for potential negative side effects. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that teens should limit the consumption of caffeine to 100 milligrams a day, or less. Young children should not be drinking caffeinated beverages at all.

Note: Mixing energy drinks with alcohol is a problem. Energy drinks dull the feeling of intoxication, potentially leading to more drinking and serious alcohol-related illnesses.