Monday, September 28, 2009

Energy Drinks - Are They Dangerous To Your Health

by A Wolski

Have you noticed that the range of "energy drinks" on the market is increasing? There is a huge market for these drinks and much of the marketing appears to be directed toward the young people despite the fact that they carry a clear warning that it is not suitable for kids.

Some health research has found that improper use of these drinks may actually play a role in risky behaviors in teens and young adults because of the quantity they drink. They have become very popular at dance parties in a bid to keep up energy levels but they often cause the consumer to actually become dehydrated.

These highly caffeinated drinks are advertised as giving heaps of energy and stamina but, in actual fact, they provide no nutrients for the body and they cause risks to your health. Because some people mix these drinks with alcohol, the risk is further intensified.

It is important to distinguish between energy drinks and sports drinks as the latter are proven to provide sugars which create energy and they also replenish the electrolytes to maintain the balance of salt and potassium in the body. Drinks such as Powerade and Gatorade fall into this category.

In people who have reported adverse reactions to improper consumption of energy drinks, the following symptoms were characterised:

? Heart arythmia
? Disturbances in electrolytes
? Nausea and vomiting
? Anxiety
? Insomnia
? irritability

When you look at the ingredients in these energy drinks, it is little wonder that our young people are getting a "high" from them. They contain several stimulants such as:

? Sugar
? Caffeine (large doses)
? Guarana
? Ephedrine
? Ginseng
? Ginko
? Taurine

Although the amount of caffeine in an energy drink is similar to that in a cup of coffee, the problem is in the way they are consumed. Coffee is hot and is therefore sipped. Energy drinks are cold and are often drank down very quickly and followed by more. This causes the "rush" and makes the heart beat faster.

Another concern with consuming large amounts of energy drinks is that, when consumed with alcohol, the person feels less drunk because of the caffeine. However, the impairment of motor coordination and visual reaction time does not diminish. Therefore, it the person drives a motor vehicle, their blood alcohol is still affected and they may cause a motor vehicle accident.

Basically, if you feel you must drink energy drinks, then drink them sensibly and according to the label. By following the points below, you should ensure that you are safe and your health will not be adversely affected:

1. Look for an energy drink such as Red Bull which is seen as a health drink
2. Don't drink large amounts of energy drinks.
3. Never mix with alcohol.
4. Make sure you drink water when doing exercise.
5. Children and pregnant women should NEVER drink energy drinks.

While the information is scant on the effects of energy drinks on your health and wellbeing, it is best to avoid them. The hype about increased endurance, stamina, and mental alertness is yet to be proven and evidence would suggest we be cautious in our consumption of them.

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