I, like most people need a little pick-me-up sometimes, having to keep up with the hustle and bustle of work and personal life, trying not to be late for work, or late submitting a report or an assignment well, it take its toll… during the day, you will find yourself completely drained and wanting to take a nap or go home, but you can’t (unfortunately). Many people choose coffee for that extra energy boost, while many choose energy drinks. While the dangers and benefits of coffee are widely known, the benefits and drawbacks of energy drinks… not so much!… I’m a little intrigued, are energy drinks really that good for you?… My little sister was intrigued as well to know the dangers of energy drinks, so Stacy, here they are.
What are Energy Drinks?
Energy drinks originated in Asia in 1962. The first energy drink was called ‘Lipovitan D’; it was developed by a Japanese pharmaceutical company, Taisho. Energy drinks are types of beverages containing stimulant drugs, chiefly caffeine, which is marketed as providing mental or physical stimulation. They may or may not be carbonated; many also contain sugar or other sweeteners, herbal extracts and amino acids. The amount of caffeine in an energy drink can range from 75 milligrams to over 200 milligrams per serving. This compares to 34 milligrams in Coke and 55 milligrams in Mountain Dew.
Energy drinks contain methylxanthines (including caffeine), B vitamins, and herbs. Other commonly used ingredients are carbonated water, guarana, yerba mate, acai, and taurine, plus various forms of ginseng, malto dextrin, inositol, carnitine, creatine, Glucuronolactone, and ginkgo biloba. There is little or no evidence that any of the ingredients found in energy drinks other than caffeine or sugar have a significant physiological effect.
How does Energy Drinks Work?
Manufacturers of energy drinks claim that energy drinks can improve your endurance and performance. Many health experts disagree. Any boost you get from drinking them, they say, is solely from the sugar and caffeine. Caffeine works by blocking the effects of adenosine, a brain chemical involved in sleep. When caffeine blocks adenosine, it causes neurons in the brain to fire. Thinking the body is in an emergency, the pituitary gland initiates the body’s “fight or flight” response by releasing adrenaline. This hormone makes the heart beat faster and the eyes dilate. It also causes the liver to release extra sugar into the bloodstream for energy. Caffeine affects the levels of dopamine, a chemical in the brain’s pleasure center. These physical responses make you feel as though you have more energy.
Types of Energy Drinks
There are a lot of energy drinks currently on the market. There isn’t a lot that differentiates them, except from flavoring and the amount of a particular ingredient, e.g. caffeine, it has. Some of the main energy drinks and its contents are as follows:
Benefits of Energy Drinks
The dangers of energy drinks far outweigh the benefits, however small; there are some benefits to be derived from the moderate consumption of energy drinks. A research conducted by Alford et al. In 2000, to find out the validity of the claims by world energy drink leader, Red Bull, that it improved the physical and cognitive performance of consumers was done. The results revealed that:
- Physical performance was significantly greater among persons who consumed red bull – Aerobic endurance increased by 9% and anaerobic endurance increased by 24%.
- There’s also an increase in attention in a stressful situation and overall concentration. As it relates to mood, there was no decline in mood.
The experiment concluded that red bull has beneficial effects on mood, physical performance, cognitive performance, stimulate metabolism and increase reaction speed.
Given that the active ingredients present in red bull are the same ones present in most energy drinks, the red bull findings may apply to most/all energy drinks.
Dangers of Energy Drinks
The consumption of energy drinks in moderation is not dangerous to your health, however, the continuous consumption of large amounts of any energy drink can cause:
- Heart palpitations
- Anxiety and insomnia — it also can make you feel jittery and irritable.
- Increased blood pressure
- Gastrointestinal disturbance (diarrhea)
- Increase urination
- Dizziness, irritability, nausea, nervousness, jitters.
- Allergic reactions can include; rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, swelling of the (mouth, face, lips, or tongue), diarrhea, vomiting.
- Headache and severe fatigue from withdrawal
- Breast shrinkage in females
- Painful withdrawal symptoms if not consumed.
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Chest Pain/ Ischaemia
- Paraesthesia (tingling or numbing of the skin)
- Respiratory Distress
You have been presented with the facts which include the benefits and disadvantages of consuming of energy drinks. The decision is now yours!