Everybody likes to feel good and sometimes we just don’t have enough energy to accomplish what we need to – or to enjoy the things we love. For the last 25 years, people around the world have turned to energy drinks to close the gap. Whether or not you partake of them, you must know that energy drinks are sold everywhere and are extremely popular. The global energy drink market has grown exponentially and is predicted to reach $61 billion by 2021! So, we know that energy drinks work, but at what cost?
All energy drinks contain caffeine, the world’s most widely used CNS stimulant. Caffeine increases heart rate and blood flow, which temporarily make us feel more alert and energetic. Due to caffeine’s ability to boost energy levels, athletes often use caffeinated drinks to boost performance. This is due to the effect caffeine has on the brain; caffeine acts as an adenosine receptor antagonist. By blocking the action of adenosine, caffeine reduces feelings of fatigue, resulting in a longer period of sustained work. Healthy adults are advised to limit their caffeine consumption to 400 mg / day.
A study published In May 2019 in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that caffeinated energy drinks altered the heart’s electrical activity and raised blood pressure. The extent of these electrical changes — which signal the heart’s chambers squeezing and relaxing — is “generally considered mild,” according to study author Sachin Shah, a professor of pharmacy at the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at the University of the Pacific. “However, people who take certain medications or have a specific type of heart condition could be at increased risk of a fatal arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat”, he added.
In addition to large amounts of caffeine, energy drinks typically contain added sugars; B- vitamins, and legal stimulants, such as guarana, a plant that grows in the Amazon; taurine, an amino acid that’s naturally found in meat and fish; and L- carnitine, a quarternary ammonium compound involved in fat metabolism. These legal stimulants are believed to potentate the effects of caffeine. And, while these are naturally – occurring substances, the fact that they are very highly concentrated in energy drinks is concerning: Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics have stated they should not be consumed by persons under 18 years of age.
To put this in perspective, 8oz of black coffee contains 91 mg of caffeine. Eight ounces of cola contains about 20 mg of caffeine and Java Monster contains 100 milligrams per serving. 5 Hour Energy contains 200 milligrams per serving. But this does not account for the other stimulants other found in energy drinks that potentiate caffeine.
The US military has even warned against troops consuming too many energy drinks since doing so has been associated with sleep disruption, leading to periods of fatigue during briefings or on guard duty. Service members who drank three or more energy drinks per day were more likely to report about four hours of sleep or less, on average, per night than those who drank two or fewer per day, according to a study conducted in 2010.
The Consortium for Health and Military Performance recommends that service members, from Sailors to Marines, limit their caffeine intake to no more than 200 milligrams every four hours and no more than 800 milligrams throughout the day, according to the Navy and Marine Corps Public Health Center. Some research has linked energy drink consumption to an increased risk for symptoms of mental health problems. However, a review paper published in the Journal of Caffeine Research last year suggests that there is not enough evidence to determine causation.
That’s my report on energy drinks. As with most things, moderation should be our guide.
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