Energy Drinks, How Good Are They?

energy drink closeup. drink can top view, pull over. studio shot

• Youngsters believe the drinks may give them an edge on the sports field
• Others feel that the caffeinated beverages help them in the classroom and at work.
• 20 teaspoons of sugar is three times adult maximum for an entire day

Consumption of energy drinks has been increasing dramatically in the last two decades, especially among adolescents and young adults. Next to multivitamins, energy drinks are the most popular dietary supplement consumed by teens and young adults. Males between 18 and 40 years of age consume the most energy drinks and almost one-third of teens between 12 and 17 years of age drink them regularly. Energy drinks are aggressively marketed with the claim that these products give an energy boost to improve physical and cognitive performance. A typical small 500ml can contains sugar levels of up to 22 teaspoons.
As per the World Health Organization, adults should have no more than 12 teaspoons of sugar a day, and children should have fewer than six. This means that many drinks are three times their recommended daily intake.
For example- a 500ml can of red bull contain 52g (13 teaspoons) of sugar.
Caffeine is the major ingredient in most energy drinks; a 24-oz energy drink may contain as much as 500 mg of caffeine (similar to that in four or five cups of coffee).
Energy drinks also may contain guarana (another source of caffeine sometimes called Brazilian cocoa), sugars, taurine, ginseng, etc.

Also known as Brazilian cocoa, guarana is a plant from South America that contains a caffeine compound called guaranine. One gram of guarana is equal to 40 mg of caffeine. Even though it’s in energy drinks, it’s typically not included in the total caffeine tally. In reality, when a drink is said to contain caffeine plus guarana, it contains caffeine plus more caffeine.

As one of the most common amino acids in the body, taurine supports brain development and regulates the body’s mineral and water levels. It can also improve athletic performance. Taurine is found naturally in meat, seafood, and milk. But the amount of taurine consumed from energy drinks is higher than that in a normal diet.

Ginseng boosts athletic performance, strengthens the immune system, and improves mood. The root is also linked to increased risk of insomnia, headache, and hypertension. Ginseng should be used cautiously, as it can cause undesirable side effects in high doses and may even be dangerous when taken with certain medicines.
Also, many teens mix their energy drinks with alcohol, which can mask the effects of alcohol and give drinkers the impression that they’ve consumed less than they actually have.

In reality, all they are doing is increasing their risk of developing obesity or type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, psychological, and neurological problems, metabolic disorders, and dental problems, among others.
Energy drinks may show positive beneficial effects on exercise performance in sports activities. Although energy drinks might benefit performance, possible detrimental health problems have been documented, particularly amongst children and adolescents. Various parts of the body can be negatively affected by energy drink consumption. Considering this fact and the increasing popularity of these drinks, caution should be exercised while consuming energy drinks.


Written By :

Dr. Amritha Sankar
Clinical Dietician
PRIMACARE Speciality Clinic, Bur Dubai

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