Energy Drinks…Do You Know What You Are Drinking?

When I see empty cans of popular energy drinks in the businesses I clean, I don’t usually see just one can.  There are always MANY stacked up next to someone’s desk.  This has always concerned me.  Certainly I had no evidence regarding these drinks or the effects of drinking them, but anything so addicting can never be good for you, right?  Well, word is starting to get out, energy drinks are causing side effects such as, irritability, concentration difficulties, gastrointestinal symptoms, heart palpitations, loss of hair, kidney problems, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and even in two cases I just read about, death.  One was a college student, out for drinks with his friends, and instead of alcohol, chose four Red Bulls.  The overdose of caffeine caused him to hallucinate and take his own life.  There is something called “Organic mental problems caused by caffeine/intoxication by caffeine”, an article in a diagnostic book for psychiatric and psychological and/or drug related illnesses.  This causes disconnected thoughts and chatter and psychometric agitation.  The other was a woman who drank four cans of Red Bull and several vodka drinks containing caffeine.  She was on medication for epilepsy and her overdose of caffeine may have triggered a heart condition resulting in her death.

250 mg of caffeine cause the same intoxicating side effect of any other drug overdose.  This result is caused when these drinks are taken in excess in one day.  There have been thousands of hospital emergencies related to these products (four cases a week due to intoxification of energy drinks).  Here’s what Wikipedia states, “The results of a study conducted in 2008 showed that the ingestion of one, 250mL can of sugar-free Red Bull, in a sample of 30 healthy young adults, had an immediate detrimental effect on both endothelial function, and normal blood coagulation. This temporarily raised the cardiovascular risk in these individuals to a level comparable to that of an individual with established coronary artery disease.”

A common energy drink, produced by an Austrian company, Red Bull contains 110 calories and 27 grams of sugar.  That’s almost 2 tablespoons of sugar.  The sugar free variety contains only 10 calories, but is sweetened with aspartame (and we know how bad that is for you).  One can contains 80 mg of caffeine which is more than three times that of the same amount of Coke.  The last time I had a soda was in a root beer float years ago, and I am not the slightest bit interested in these energy drinks.  They are just sugar water mixed with caffeine and should not be used for rehydration.  Unfortunately, these products are marketed to our youth and there are no laws to govern the adequate labeling of nutritional factors.  These drinks are attractive to our young people (adults too) for their promise to refuel yourself quickly, great for fatigue, and will give you that much needed boost if you need to pull an all nighter.  Advertisements in Playstation games, sporting events such as racing and extreme sports, have caused the company to earn around $1 billion in worldwide sales for 2000.  In Denmark and Uruguay the “selling of Red Bull is prohibited due to health concerns.”  These drinks should never be used to rehydrate your body and never be combined with alcohol, but guess what? That’s exactly what they are being used for. 

Where is this leading us?  Read your labels.  Know your ingredients and their effect on your health.  Slow down.  Relax.  Enjoy life.  Eat healthier.  Get out there and walk.

Thoughts and prayers to Michael Jackson’s family and friends.

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