It tastes like soda and comes in a colorful can. With edgy names that entice young consumers, 31% of adolescents, age 12 to 19 report using energy drinks on a regular basis. Loaded with sugar, caffeine, and other ingredients, such as guarana, ginseng, and taurine the drinks act as stimulants containing caffeine concentrations much higher than coffee in some cases. Any of these substances ingested in high doses can be very dangerous.
Increased concerns for the health and safety of those who have come to depend on the stimulating effects have been ongoing. In fact, between 2007 and 2011 the number of emergency room visits due to the consumption of energy drinks doubled to 20,000 according to Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Of the 5,448 caffeine overdoses reported in 2007, nearly half of them occurred in individuals under the age of 19.
How Energy Drinks Affect Us
While beverages that contain large amounts of caffeine claim to boost our energy, they really just stimulate us. In research across the board, energy drinks were found to offer no health benefits at all.
Side effects may include:
- Elevated heart rates
- Interruption in sleep patterns
Children and smaller people are especially at risk for harmful side effects since they do not metabolize substances the same as adults. While older individuals may tolerate 200 mg of caffeine with no problem, younger people are more likely to suffer unwelcome effects. While the American Academy of Pediatrics cautions, “caffeine and other stimulant substances contained in energy drinks have no place in the diet of children and adolescents”, some like Dr. Fabian Sanchis-Gomar and his international research team of Madrid, Spain have attempted to establish guidelines to keep teens and children safe from over-indulging.
- No more than one can (250 mL) of an energy drink per day for the majority of healthy adolescents.
- Avoid consuming energy drinks before or during sports practice or heavy physical activity.
- Consult a cardiologist before drinking energy drinks if there is any underlying medical condition.
- Consuming alcohol or drugs in conjunction with energy drinks could dangerously affect health, even causing death in some instances.
Sanchis-Gomar adds that educating physicians about the harmful effects of energy drinks is critical.
Widespread Use and Health Concerns
It’s not just teens that look to the drinks, laden with caffeine, sugar, and other stimulants to provide energy however. Doctors, lawyers, and working mothers turn to the juice for a jolt of energy as well.
Statistics reveal some startling facts about the use of stimulants in the nation.
In the U.S., 80% of adults report using caffeine daily, and the average adult has a daily intake of 200 mg.
The average amount of caffeine in an 8-ounce energy drink is 80mg. Some 16-ounce cans may contain as much or more than 344mg of caffeine.
Symptoms of caffeine toxicity usually occur at approximately 400 mg.
One recent study, published in the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) found that even healthy adults who consume the drinks on a regular basis might be harming themselves over time. The study found that after drinking just one 16-ounce can of a popular energy drink, systolic blood pressure increased, on average, by 6.6 points, and norepinephrine levels increased by100 picograms per milliliter. These physical changes “may predispose [people] to increased cardiovascular risk,” according to researchers.
Natural Energy Support
Stressed out, burned out, and exhausted, many individuals, including adolescents simply fail to get the nutrition and sleep necessary to function properly. The body’s needs for energy to maintain a healthy lifestyle, as well as build and repair cells, support optimal organ function, and fight infection are great.
Natural nutritional supplements can help.
B12 METHYLCOBALAMIN 1,000MCG – 90 TABLETS – NATURAL FACTORS
Vitamin B12, necessary for energy production supports a healthy nervous system, the synthesis of red blood cells and the promotion of memory and learning,
VITAMIN CODE HEALTHY BLOOD – 60 CAPSULES – GARDEN OF LIFE
Provides raw whole food and the nutrient building blocks for healthy blood. It also increases energy, helps fight fatigue, and promotes healthy skin.
PERFECT FOOD RAW GREENS – 240 VEGAN CAPSULES – GARDEN OF LIFE
Raw, nutrient-dense greens, sprouts and juices provide a wealth of antioxidants, phytonutrients and probiotics to aid in immune function and healthy digestion and blood sugar levels.
Experience renewed energy through proper nutrition and support from natural supplements that don’t over stimulate the body.