Nutrition

Long-term effects of energy drinks

Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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Learn the long-term effects of energy drinks - are they dangerous to your health

We all like to know -- for the most part -- what we're putting into our bodies. Whether food, drink, or medication, it's important to understand potential side-effects in both the short- and long-term. Those within the health and science fields have voiced their concerns over energy drinks which are being consumed by today's athletes, college students, and youth.

With ingredients that haven't fully been researched and potential effects which haven't been identified, these beverages have become a very large and potentially insidious issue, depending upon with whom you speak. For the long-term effects of energy drinks, further study will need to be completed in order to ascertain potential health risk for its drinkers.

Widespread Usage of Caffeinated Beverages

According to a 2007 study done by Johns Hopkins University, a whopping 51 percent of college students surveyed said they had consumed at least one caffeinated super-drink in the last month.
  • 19 percent of these students reported heart palpitations after drinking
  • 29 percent said they experienced highs and crashes during the week
  • 27 percent explained they had mixed caffeinated beverages with alcohol in the last month, at least once
The industry as a whole continues to grow at a impressive pace, with energy drink makers earning around 5 billion dollars a year in the U.S. alone. Thus, scientists today who have witnessed this growth in popularity are worried about the long-term health effects on users. Beverages such as Red Bull, Full Throttle, Monster, Five Hour Energy, Rockstar, and more, are a concoction of various different ingredients, many of which have yet to be studied fully.





The studies that have taken place have been shown to question both the effectiveness of the mix, as well as the overall safety for its drinkers.

What's Actually Inside One of Those Cans?

The list is long, with certain 16-ounce cans containing as much as 13 teaspoons of sugar and four times the amount of caffeine found in colas. In many instances, these beverages have been outright banned for athletes and sporting competitions. Many of the concoctions also contain:
  • Taurine
  • Ginseng
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Milk Thistle
  • Glucuronolactone
  • B vitamins

Both the guarana and B-vitamins are worrisome to many experts within the fields of medicine and health. Guarana contains very high levels of caffeine, while the B-vitamins are being added to an already plentiful amount we get through protein sources. Thus, for those who drink these beverages, it's as if they are receiving a sensory overload for their bodies, due to the excessive caffeine and unnecessary addition of even more B-vitamins to our diet.


What are the Potential Long-Term Effects of Energy Drinks?


The problem with assessing the long-term risks of such beverages is that many of the studies performed have taken healthy, young adults in small sample sizes. Thus, it's been difficult to see -- and determine -- what potential short- or long-term issues may surface down the road.

The potential issues that have scientists and researchers worried involves the liver, heart, insulin resistance, and the potential for an increase in diabetes. With this being said, though, so far there are no concrete long-term effects that can be attributed to these highly caffeinated beverages.

For those susceptible, high contents of caffeine can cause dangerous and even life-threatening effects on brain function, heart rate, and blood pressure. There have been deaths associated with the beverages when combined with physical exertion as well as fatalities with those who had a pre-existing condition and drank the caffeinated beverage. There have also been issues of mania for those individuals with bipolar disorder who imbibed.

There has been a call towards regulation for an industry with very few restrictions and guidelines set in place. Thanks to the labeling of beverages as "dietary supplements," these companies are not regulated like soda or juice manufactures. Therefore, they can make claims as to the benefits of their products in regards to improving functioning, mental sharpness, and reaction times, to name just a few.

Resources:

Livestrong: Long-term Effects of Energy Drinks.

New York Times: Scientists See Dangers in Energy Drinks.

Above photo attributed to joelklal

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