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Posted on 06-08-2017

The Consequences of Energy Drink Consumption.

            Energy drinks are becoming more and more popular in society. You cannot go into a grocery store or a gas station and not see a cooler filled with Redbull’s and Monsters. At the checkout counters 5 hour energy shots are easily accessible. On the sports fields, in gyms and in locker rooms they are becoming more popular as well. To get that quick boost of energy, trying to get through the last couple hours of work, or late night homework or studying, energy drinks seem like the quick and easy solution.

            It’s estimated that 31% of adolescents aged 12-19 drink energy drinks on a regular basis. It has also been estimated that by the end of the year 2017, the sale of energy drinks in the United States will reach well over 27 trillion dollars. That is a ridiculous amount of money that is spent on “energy” drinks, and there is no regulation of who can purchase them.

            Researchers in Spain, led by Dr. Fabian Sanchis-Gomar discovered, these seemingly innocent beverages could actually have deadly consequences. The main issue with these drinks is the high concentrations of caffeine and sugar.  If a person has an underlying heart issue, consumption of energy drinks can cause dangerous arrhythmias and aggravate those conditions.

            Although caffeine is put on the label so that the consumer knows that there is some in there, researchers have also found additional sources of caffeine that may not be recognized by the consumer. For example, guarana and ginseng are often touted as natural sources of energy.  However, guarana has a caffeine concentrations nearly twice that of coffee. While not caffeine specifically, ginseng is a stimulant and has effects on numerous tissues in the body. The average consumer does not realize what these other substances are and don’t do the research in order to figure it out.

            While generally regarded as safe, when consumed in larger quantities, adverse effects do sometimes occur.  They are “most common among children, adolescents and young adults with anxiety, seizures, agitation, migraines, sleeplessness, dehydration, gastrointestinal problems, arrhythmias and other cardiac events.”  Especially, in adolescents, caffeine accelerates aggression, reduces sleeping hours, and increases the daytime sleepiness and administration of painkillers for headache.  It has a harmful effect on growth because it causes the loss of calcium and potassium.

            Caffeine overdoses in the U.S. are also a possible outcome. In 2007, there were 5,400 overdoses reported that were linked to caffeine and around 46% of those were found to be in people under the age of 19. Overdoses of caffeine can cause manic episodes, panic attacks, hallucinations, delusions, disorientation, and the lowering of one’s inhibitions. More recently, there was a child who passed away from complications from drinking too much caffeine in a short amount of time because his heart could not handle that much stimulation.

            No matter who you are, you should be aware of what you are putting into your body. There are some guidelines in order to keep safe if you are consuming energy drinks. Number 1, Energy drink consumption before or during sports or working out should be avoided. You are already ramping up the heart rate, there isn’t a need to have it work 4x faster than what it needs too. Number 2, excessive energy drink consumption together with alcohol or other drugs, may lead to adverse side effects, including death. Number 3. One 250ml can of an energy drink per day is safe for most healthy adolescents. Now you should note that just because you feel healthy doesn’t mean you are.

            Reducing caffeine intake may be a lot harder than what you think. Consuming as little as 200mg of caffeine a day can lead to altered chemistry in the brain and addiction. With addiction you have to deal with the effects of withdrawal when trying to cut back on the substance. Withdrawal symptoms may differ from person to person, but headaches, tiredness and the shakes are the most common side effects. It is believed that 3 out of 4 regular caffeine users are actually addicted.

            If you are looking for a boost of energy, talk to your chiropractor about natural and healthy ways to increase your energy. There are ways to do it the right way that will benefit your health and can benefit your nutrition. Although it may seem easy when you go to the store to just grab an energy drink off the shelf or out of the cooler, think about what you are actually putting into your body and ask yourself “are the consequences worth it?”.

Cory T. O’Lear-Zebroski, D.C. 

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