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Is Using Energy Drinks to Stay Awake Actually Bad for You?

March 10, 2014


Is Using Energy Drinks to Stay Awake Actually Bad for You?

It’s 18:00 pm on a Friday night, you have just arrived home and you open your third energy drink of the day to try and shake off nine hours in the office. There is no harm in it right?  

Actually, drinking too many energy drinks is definitely harmful to your health - as is drinking too much soda, coffee or anything else that contains caffeine. A energy drink can contain up to around 505 milligrams of caffeine. That sounds pretty hectic, until you realise that this is only twice the amount of caffeine in a large Starbucks coffee and nobody seems to be reporting on people dying from coffee overdoses...

So, how can a energy drink be harmful?

The problem isn’t really in the amount of caffeine in an energy drink, but rather that in many countries the government doesn’t require that an energy drink’s caffeine content be displayed on the can. It is this lack of information that is the real danger behind energy drinks - people have no idea how much caffeine they are consuming and the effect that it will have on them. But the danger of energy drinks doesn’t stop there according to some. They claim that other ingredients included in energy drinks, such as xanthine, which are also not indicated effectively can lead to health problems. While the caffeine in coffee has been subject to decades of research, the research on many of the other substances in energy drinks is still in its infancy with few long term studies available.

What about children?

Most energy drinks state that that should only be consumed by people 12 years and older as research has suggested that consumption at a younger age is harmful to children’s health. However many schools and parenting groups are pushing to remove energy drinks from school tuck shops or from nearby shops citing that energy drinks could have the effect of preventing children from being able to focus in classes. In some countries there is legislation to limit the sale of energy drinks to teenagers as many teenagers use energy drinks to avoid sleep, failing to realize that at their age sleep is essential for mental and physical development.

The Real Danger

Others suggest that it is not the energy drink itself that is a problem, but rather the irresponsible use thereof. In the majority of cases where death was alleged to have been caused by energy drinks, the victim consumed far more energy drinks than is recommended during or after extreme sports or had a pre-existing heart condition that was exacerbated by caffeine consumption. Mixing energy drinks with alcohol or drugs have been shown to increase risk of dangers such as heart conditions.

So, what is the verdict?

There are no dangers inherent in energy drinks. However, like anything, energy drinks in excess can be dangerous to your health and should not be consumed on a regular basis or serve as a sleep replacement. Even so, children under the age of 16 should be discouraged from drinking energy drinks on a frequent basis.


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