Energy Drinks: The Deadly Truth?

More likely than not you have tried an energy drink at least once. Energy drinks are a popular "pick me up" as they are often loaded with caffeine, sugar and taurine, which is advertised to keep people alert and increase their energy. 

Over the last few weeks there has been a lot of news reports on three specific energy drinks: Monster Energy, Rockstar Energy and 5-hour Energy. The FDA has posted the following adverse-event reports for those energy drinks: 40 illnesses and 5 deaths linked to Monster Energy, 13 illnesses and 2 lasting disabilities linked to Rockstar Energy and 92 illnesses and 13 deaths linked to 5-hour Energy.

So far, the adverse event reports have not stated whether the people affected by these energy drinks had underlying medical conditions that may have contributed to the product-related illness or death. 

So what is thought to be the culprit of these adverse events from energy drinks?  Caffeine.

Consumer Reports states that the safe limits of daily caffeine consumption for a healthy individual are 400mg per day. However, the safe daily amount depends on body weight, medication use and the presence of any underlying medical conditions. (Check out Nadia's post on caffeine for more details)

Here is a breakdown of how much caffeine is in the questioned energy drinks:
  • 5-Hour Energy contains 215 milligrams of caffeine per serving
  • 5-Hour Energy Extra Strength contains 242 milligrams of caffeine per serving
  • Monster Energy contains 92 milligrams of caffeine per serving
  • Rockstar Energy Drink, Double Strength contains 80 milligrams of caffeine per serving
  • Rockstar Energy Shot contains 229 milligrams of caffeine per serving
Where as an 8-ounce cup of coffee has about 100 milligrams of caffeine, although that varies according to how the coffee is brewed. 

So the question remains: Do these energy drinks have enough caffeine in them to kill you? Unlikely. The average person would have to consume about 5-10 grams of caffeine, which is about 6-12 gallons of coffee, to result in death. 

Personally, I am not a fan of energy drinks because they generally contain tons of sugar and additives. Consuming too much of these substances can cause nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, sleep issues, anxiety, heart palpitations and seizures. 
The best energy drink may very well be water, since staying hydrated can help you think more clearly, exercise harder, and stay healthier in the long run.  These days we are finding that a large portion of the population can be considered dehydrated.

Don’t get me wrong--I love my coffee, but I take caffeine in moderation.

Bottom line: an occasional energy drink is fine for most people, but do the math and avoid overindulging. If you want an alternative to these over-the-top sugary beverages, try a glass of water or a cup of tea. 

When choosing my next pick-me-up I will definitely be sticking with water or tea - will you? 

best in health,
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