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Energy Drinks – Are They Safe?

March 30, 2012

Our lives grow busier each day.  We live in a society where sleeping 7-9 hours a night is not an option, except for the weekends, and even those fill up fast with family functions, kids sports game, or catching up on the weeks work load.  It is no surprise that the country has taken such a liking to the promises made by energy drinks.

There is a huge variety on the market, but the typical energy drink contains some ratio of guarana, taurine, caffeine, cyanocobalamin, citric acid and ginseng.  These controversial ingredients are typically harmless when taken in low dosages, but when consumed in excess, there can be consequences.  The FDA does not regulate the caffeine in energy drinks.  The FDA limit for sodas is 65 mg for 12 fluid ounces.  In comparison, 6 ounces of coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine, whereas a tiny bottle of “5-Hour Energy” ( roughly 2 ounces) has 138 mg of caffeine.

Like many things, moderation is key when it comes to energy drinks.  The biggest problem with these beverages and people’s health is over consumption and abuse.  Having one every once and awhile is not likely to affect your health in terms of the caffeine.  If you have diabetes and have problems keeping your blood sugar levels in check, it is best to avoid these beverages because of the high sugar content.  If you find yourself consuming energy drinks as your only means to stay energized, it could be problematic.  Side effects have been reported of feeling out of control, dizziness, having energy “crashes,” and in some cases, even heart palpitations.

There is also the growing problem of people mixing energy drinks and alcohol.  Mixing food or beverage items high in caffeine, which is going to increase heart rate, with alcohol, which is a depressant that lowers your heart rate, can be a deadly combination.  Since most of these beverages are being marketed to children and teens, it is certainly an added concern.

The take home message is to try and manage your energy levels using more natural techniques.  Rework your schedule to get some extra sleep during the week, stay hydrated and choose healthy foods that keep your body feeling well, and in turn feeling awake.  If the occasional energy drink finds its way into your hands, so be it; however try to moderate consumption of these beverages.

Do you rely on these energy drinks to keep you going?  Make a commitment today to try healthier alternatives.

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