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Monday, October 18, 2010

Are energy drinks safe for your health?

Thirty-one percent of U.S. teenagers say they drink energy drinks, according to Simmons Research. Not only teens but people of all ages are taking energy drinks to get a shot of freshness or energy.

But are they safe for your health?

According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the labels of popular energy drinks, such as Red Bull and Rockstar, should contain warnings about the amount of caffeine they contain and the potentially harmful side effects they could cause.

In recent years, a number of different energy drinks have been introduced to provide an energy boost or as dietary supplements. They contain high levels of caffeine as well as other additives,such as taurine, ginseng and carnitine that act as stimulants.

Scientists from Johns Hopkins have spent years evaluating the effects of caffeine and the impact these high-caffeine energy drinks can have on a person’s health. While a typical 12 ounce soft drink has about 35 milligarms of caffeine, some energy drinks contain up to 500 milligrams. The researchers suggest that most consumers are unaware of the caffeine content in these energy drinks or about the potential dangers, and that information should be added to the product labels.

In addition, many of these drinks are heavily marketed in bars or for use in combination with alcohol, which could further increase the health risks for consumers.

Energy drinks may pose various health risks, including:

Restlessness and irritability. The caffeine in energy drinks can make you irritable, restless and nervous. Excessive caffeine is also associated with headaches, tremors, nausea and insomnia.
Increased blood pressure. The caffeine in energy drinks can increase your blood pressure and make your heart beat faster. In some cases, this can trigger potentially dangerous changes in heart rhythm. Mixing energy drinks and alcohol compounds the effect, since alcohol also makes your heart beat faster.
Possible dehydration. Some studies suggest that the caffeine in energy drinks may increase the risk of dehydration during exercise, but results are mixed. Other studies don't associate caffeine with dehydration.
Weight gain. The sugar in most energy drinks can contribute to weight gain, especially for people who don't exercise regularly and those who struggle with their weight.
In addition, excessive amounts of energy drinks have been associated with manic episodes, seizures, chest pain, heart attacks and sudden cardiac death.

Suggestions from: Mayo Clinic physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist- Edward R. Laskowski, M.D

Useful links:

* Teens Abusing Energy Boosting Drinks, Doctors Fear

* An important report (I suggest readers to read comments section at the bottom of the report): Energy Drink Health Risk Warnings Needed According to Researchers

* An interesting site with reviews, news and other information about energy drinks is: 'Energy drink review'

* 12 Harmful Ingredients in Power Drinks, Colas and Artificial Juice Drinks

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