The 6 Top Dangers of Energy Drinks, and
5 Healthy Energy-Boosting Alternatives
The market for energy drinks in the United States rose to $6.6 billion in 2007, according to Report Buyer's Energy Drinks in the U.S. This marks an increase of nearly 440% since 2002, and the trend shows no signs of stopping. By 2011 it's estimated that the U.S. energy drink market will surpass $9 billion.
At least 31 percent of U.S. teens drink energy drinks, but are they safe?
Already at least 31 percent of U.S. teenagers say they drink energy drinks, according to Simmons Research, no doubt because they're looking for the quick energy kick that the drinks provide. In the future, Report Buyers predicts that energy drinks will move beyond just energy and begin incorporating nutrition, taste, pain-killing and anti-aging ingredients into their products.
Energy Drinks Have Some Experts Worried
These drinks are heavily marketed to teens as a harmless way to boost energy, but in reality they've been linked to serious -- and widely unpublicized -- health effects. Among the top dangers are:
1. Caffeine Intoxication
Energy drinks contain anywhere from 160 mg to 300 mg of caffeine, compared with 80 mg for a typical cup of coffee. While most adults can safely drink up to 200-300 mg of caffeine a day, many teens drink several energy drinks a day, sometimes in a short period of time.
Not surprisingly, a study by Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found that energy drinks can lead to caffeine intoxication, a condition that can cause nervousness, heart irregularities, increased blood pressure, insomnia, neurological symptoms and anxiety.
"The caffeine content of energy drinks varies over a 10-fold range, with some containing the equivalent of 14 cans of cola, yet the caffeine amounts are unlabeled and few include warnings about potential health risks of caffeine intoxication," the study's author said.
2. Heart Failure
Energy drinks are commonly used as mixers for alcoholic drinks in bars and nightclubs, and there are now new pre-mixed alcoholic energy drinks on the market.
The dangerous combination of mixing energy drinks, a stimulant, with alcohol, a depressant, has proven deadly.
"It is scary to think that these energy drinks are being used as a mixer with vodka and whiskey," said David Pearson, a researcher in the Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University. "You are just overloading the body with heavy stimulants and heavy depressants."
The resulting mix can lead to cardiopulmonary and cardiovascular failure.
3. Increased Risk of Injury
Researchers from North Carolina's Wake Forest University revealed that mixing alcohol and energy drinks increases students' risk of harm. After surveying over 4,000 U.S. students, they found that those who drank alcoholic energy drink cocktails were more likely to:
These harmful effects occurred because the energy drinks masked much of the alcohol's intoxicating effects, which allowed students to drink for longer periods.
4. Increased Blood Pressure and Heart Rate
Drinking two cans a day of an energy drink is enough to increase your blood pressure and heart rate, according Wayne State University researchers.
In a study of 15 healthy volunteers who drank two energy drinks a day for seven days:
Maximum systolic blood pressure increased by 7.9 percent on day one and 9.6 percent on day seven
Diastolic blood pressure increased by 7 percent on day one and 7.8 percent on day seven
Heart rate increased by 7.8 percent on day one and 11 percent on day seven
The adverse effects were significant enough that the researchers recommended people with high blood pressure or heart disease avoid energy drinks.
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5. Increased Risk of Substance Abuse
A study of college students found that those who consume energy drinks six or more days a month are three times as likely as those who don't drink energy drinks to smoke cigarettes or abuse prescription drugs. They're also twice as likely to use marijuana and have alcohol-related problems.
Energy drinks contain a lot of sugar (at least 7 teaspoons for each can) and high levels of caffeine that give teens a fast high, followed by a crash. The up-and-down jolt may lead some kids to reach for another can to get back up to their high point, leading to a dangerous cycle of dependence. Meanwhile, the more energy drinks consumed, the greater the risk of caffeine intoxication. It's even possible to experience side effects like rapid heartbeat and numbness and tingling in the hands and feet from the mega doses of vitamin supplements that some of the drinks contain.
Looking for a Healthy Energy Boost?
Energy drinks may give you a quick buzz, but they won't provide you with the vibrant, alive feeling that we're all looking for to improve our days. Of course, many factors contribute to your level of energy from day to day, but here are some tips that can help to increase your energy levels in the long run.
- Drink more healthy beverages. If you get dehydrated, it will make you feel sluggish. Aside from pure water, you can quench your thirst and increase your energy with Ajmera's Orang-O Energy, Coco Energy and Mang-O Energy.
These drinks are 100% natural with NO caffeine, no preservatives, synthetic food colors or artificial flavors. All three of Ajmera's beverages will keep you hydrated, helping you function better, and are best after a workout, tiring day or just when you need a boost.
A healthy diet and exercise are two of the best energy boosters around.
Orange-O contains vitamin C, an antioxidant that can protect your body from free radicals, which may cause heart disease and cancer. Vitamin C is responsible for producing collagen. Collagen is present in your muscles and bones and holds the cells together. Vitamin C also helps your immune system, helping you heal from scrapes and bruises, and keeps your gums healthy.
CoCo Energy is made with coconut water, which is a Natural Isotonic Beverage -- it has the same level we have in our blood, thus does not have an adverse affect on blood sugar or pressure. Coconut water contains more potassium (at about 294 mg) than most sports drinks (117 mg) and most energy drinks. It also has less sodium (25mg) whereas sports drinks have around 41mg and energy drinks have about 200 mg!
Mango-O Energy also contains vitamin C, giving you excellent protection against free radicals with the great flavor of mangoes!
Eat plenty of protein. Make sure you are eating enough healthy protein throughout the day. Your body needs it to keep organs functioning and energy levels up.
Watch your carb intake. Eating too many carbs can slow you down, but so can not eating enough of the healthy kind (like those from veggies). Carbs are what keeps your blood sugar levels balanced throughout the day, which in turn makes you feel awake, so be sure you're eating the right amount for you.
Exercise. Though it sounds ironic, putting out the energy to work out will give you more energy and make your daily tasks easier. Ask any regular exerciser to take a break from their routine, and they're sure to notice a drop in their energy. And if you feel you don't have enough energy to do it, you're probably the type that needs it most!
Find ways to relieve stress. If you've got a lot of negative emotions cooped up in your mind, it will definitely drain you of your energy. Even the positive things in our lives -- buying a new house, having a baby, getting married, planning for retirement -- can lead to energy-zapping emotions. For some great stress relief tips, see Some Startling Stress and Anxiety Statistics and What You Can Do to Eliminate Your High-Stress.
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NRToday.com October 16, 2008
NewsJournalOnline.com October 16, 2008
LiveScience.com October 29, 2006