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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Energy Drinks-- Good or Bad?

Energy drinks have become very popular among high school and college students, often replacing sodas as a source of energy, especially high-caffeine drinks like Mountain Dew and Coke. There are several different ways of looking at energy drinks, and each person needs to evaluate whether they are good or bad for them based on the contents.

Energy drinks comes in many names such as Monster, Red Bull, Full Throttle, Rock Star, and Burn. Red Bull and Monster lead the pack with 79 percent of the market. So, what's in these energy drinks? Unlike coffee whose stimulant is caffeine, energy drinks can contain caffeine or other stimulants like guarana. Guarana is a plant in the maple family with large leaves and flowers. The seeds from the flowers produce the guarana which is twice as potent as the caffeine found in coffee beans.

They also contain sugar or sugar substitutes. The high doses of caffeine or guarana in energy drinks, combined with sugar, are what produce energy highs. Energy drinks contain about three times the amount of caffeine as cola. A 12 ounce bottle of Coca-Cola Classic contains 35 mg of caffeine, compared to a Monster energy drink which contains 120 mg of caffeine. The amount of caffeine in an energy drink can range from 75 milligrams to over 200 milligrams per serving. Some energy drinks replace the sugar with sugar substitute to avoid sugar crashes which have been known to cause seizures.

So, energy drinks in themselves are not dangerous or necessarily bad for you. The danger comes from drinking too many energy drinks which can cause nervousness, irritability, inability to sleep, excess urination and abnormal heart rhythms. These symptoms can occur with caffeine consumption over 400 mg. So, if two energy drinks are consumed and each one contains over 200 milligrams of caffeine, users could end up in the emergency room.

The other real danger is mixing energy drinks with alcohol. The stimulants in energy drinks can prevent people from realizing the full affects of alcohol consumption. Both alcohol and energy drinks dehydrate. This slows down the metabolic rate and increases the toxic affects of alcohol. There are actually a couple drinks on the market that have been prohibited in many states that sell energy drinks + alcohol all in one drink. What were they thinking?

About 66 percent percent of energy drinkers are 13 and 35 years old. The American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend that adolescents consume no more than 100 mg of caffeine a day and that younger children shouldn't drink caffeinated beverages on a regular basis. Those with heart problems, especially arrhythmia, diabetes, migraines and other health problems may also experience more adverse affects. So, although energy drinks may not be bad for most people, consumers should read the label and know exactly how much caffeine or other stimulants they are consuming.
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