|The Ruiz Family|
Christmas Tree- 2012!
|Dos Cafecitos...yes, they are that small..|
Let's break down some of the ingredients in these drinks and go over why they may be harmful
Caffeine- Although coffee and green tea (my favorite!) have caffeine, these energy drinks contain caffeine in a concentrated amount. So, as 5 Hour energy may have the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, it is so concentrated and easy to get, that a lot of people combine the energy drink with coffee or, even another type of energy drink. An average coffee has approximately 250 mg of caffeine, 5-hour Energy about 200, Monster Energy 160 (per SERVING), and Red Bull at only 80 (per SERVING). So what does caffeine do to you? Well, besides giving you a higher level of alertness, if can cause nausea, GI upset, fast heart rate and sleep disruptions.
Sugar- Sugar is a carbohydrate that is quickly absorbed by the body for fast energy, so it only makes sense that a lot of these drinks will contain sugar...but how much? Rockstar Energy has a whopping 62 grams of sugar and Monster with 27 grams of sugar. I will say, most companies have no-carb or sugar-free options though, to be fair.
|Just a FEW of the Energy Drinks|
on the market.
B-Vitamins- This one I can not figure out. First of all, B-vitamins are water-soluble..meaning that whatever you do not use (or whatever your body has excess of)...you pee out. That's number one. Number two- B-vitamins have to "build-up" if you will, in your body...so having an energy drink with B-vitamins is going to do absolutely nothing for your energy that day. Also, the B-vitamins by their self do not contain energy..rather, they help to "unlock" the energy in food. The 5-Hour Energy "shot" contains 8,333% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin B-12 and 2,000% of the RDA for vitamin B-6. So, basically you will be peeing out anything over 100% And, I would venture to say that most people in this country who have a somewhat normal nutrition get 100% of these B-vitamins from their normal day-to-day diets.
Taurine- Taurine is an amino acid..AKA a "building block" of the body. There is no proof that it provides any extra energy or mental performance. It also seems that a lot of the studies are controversial or that they contradict each other. Physiologically, taurine supports neurological development and helps to regulate water and mineral salts in the body.
Here's the kicker...the FDA does not require beverage-marketers to list the naturally-occuring caffeine in these ingredients. So, substances like guarana, coffee bean extract or yerba mate (whatever that is)..which have natural caffeine qualities are not required to calculated...or even listed as caffeine!
|This made me laugh..|
Who in the world drinks
a beverage named "Bawls"?
So..what do I think? Well, I think it is likely a combination of a lot of things. The problem I see with these highly caffeinated drinks is that they mask fatigue..and likely mask dehydration. Along with dehydration causing health problems (kidney problems, high heart rates just to name a few), the caffeine can add to these problems, having a sort-of compounding effect.
Take home message? Avoid the energy drinks if possible. Sure, a coffee is fine..and you know what? Most likely, an energy drink every once in a while is likely okay too. But why take the chance? I will say, however, that anyone with heart problems should avoid these beverages all together. I recommend a small snack, like a banana or a handful of nuts for natural energy without the "crash-and burn" effect of tons of sugar. And as always, consult with your doctor before trying any of the products listed here.
Wishing everyone an energy-filled holiday season,