• 29Apr

    What are the dangers of energy drinks?

    An energy drink is a type of beverage containing stimulant drugs like caffeine. Their consumption is supposed to provide physical or mental stimulation with the idea of boosting performance or just to feel good. A variety of ingredients are added to these beverages as ‘energy’ source. Effects and potential dangers of energy drinks are discussed below.

    Energy drinks ingredients

    Energy drinks contain stimulants and vitamins. Some of these substances may be in amount more than what body needs on a daily basis. These drinks should contain a warning of overdosage of these ingredients. When consumed in moderation, these drinks usually do not produce any side effects. Majority of the side effects that occur are short term. Long term effects of the energy drinks are still under research. 


    Caffeine: This is the most common ingredient in energy drinks. Though it is also found in coffee, coke and mountain dew, its concentration is higher in energy drinks. This may range from 70 to 200 mg in a can of energy drink. In most people, a consumption of 200 to 300 mg will produce some symptoms. Caffeine is a nervous system stimulant and increases level of alertness. It increases heart rate and blood pressure. It may cause dehydration by increasing the urine output. Many people suffer from high levels of caffeine which produces sleeplessness, headache, nausea and palpitations. Other less common side effects include diarrhea, dizziness, irritability, shrinkage of breasts in females and allergic reactions.

    Caffeine increases the output of adrenal glands. In people with chronic caffeine consumption, adrenal fatigue occurs which manifests with a sensation of tiredness after consumption of caffeinated or energy drinks.

    Sugar: Most of these energy drinks are rich in sugar which is usually high fructose corn syrup or cane sugar. These high calorie sugars are associated with an increased incidence of obesity and dental diseases. There is an increased risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus in these obese patients.

    Energy drinks may be consumed occasionally - don't make drinking them your habit.

    Energy drinks may be consumed occasionally – don’t make drinking them your habit.

    Taurine: Taurine is an amino acid which plays a role in skeletal muscle and heart contraction. Its levels in these drinks are very low to cause any side effects.

    B vitamins: High levels of niacin can cause facial flushing and liver damage. High levels of B6 or pyridoxine may result in burning sensation.

    Inositol: It may cause diarrhea.

    Ginseng: Ginseng is a stimulant. It may cause certain side effects which include low blood pressure, swelling of legs, palpitations, headache, giddiness, sleeplessness, amenorrhea, fever, loss of appetite, generalized itching, jaundice, painful breasts and abortion.

    Glucuronolactone: There are no proven side effects due to consumption of energy drinks which contain glucuronolactone.

    Aspartame: It is added to sugar free energy drinks. It is regarded as safe.

    Ginkgo biloba: It is a herbal extract of ginkgo biloba which is added to energy drinks. It may cause headache, dizziness, nausea, palpitations and restlessness. Animal experiments have shown its association with thyroid cancer.

    L-carnitine: This ingredient can cause nausea, vomiting, headache, diarrhea, sleeplessness, nasal congestion and restlessness.

     L-theanine: This is an amino acid which is derived from green tea. It also increases level of alertness as seen with caffeine. A high dose may result in giddiness or fainting sensation.

    Is consuming energy drinks dangerous?

    These drinks may be consumed occasionally and in moderation. Excessive drinking should be avoided. One should read any health warning and collect more information about contents of the drink. Many times it becomes difficult to decide which component in a drink is producing side effects. The final word is ‘drink responsibly, drink occasionally and don’t make it a habit’. Energy drinks should not become your staple diet or a replacement for water.

    Anna L.

    It’s all about health!
    I have academic background in drugs related Chemical Technology, as well as extensive professional experience in pharma and medical companies. My main area of interest is everyday life medicine. The goal of my articles is to give people informative answers to the questions that bother them, to dispel doubts and some common misbeliefs and also to inspire everyone to keep healthy lifestyle.

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Discussion 2 Responses

  1. January 3, 2015 at 12:50 am

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