Energy drinks claim to provide people with increased energy levels that will keep them active & alert. But are energy drinks safe to drink?

Energy drinks are soft drinks advertised as boosting energy. These drinks usually do not emphasize energy derived from the sugars they contain, but rather through a choice of stimulants, vitamins, and herbal supplements the manufacturer has combined.

They include caffeine (large amount), vitamin B, guarana (contains also caffeine), acai, taurine, ginseng (enhances the effects of caffeine), maltodextrin, carbonated water, inositol, carnitine, creatine, glucuronolactone and ginkgo biloba. Some contain high levels of sugar, others are 'diet' versions. The central ingredient in most energy drinks is caffeine, the same stimulant found in coffee or tea, often in the form of guarana or yerba mate.

Adverse effects associated with caffeine consumption in amounts greater than 400 mg include nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, increased urination, abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia), and stomach upset. Consumption also has been known to cause pupil dilation when taken with certain antidepressants.

Energy drinks do not provide electrolytes, and have a higher likelihood of an energy "crash-and-burn" effect. Caffeine in energy drinks can excrete water from the body to dilute high concentrations of sugar entering the blood stream, leading to dehydration. If the body is dehydrated by 1%, performance is decreased by up to 10%. people drinking energy drinks may sweat more burning off all the extra energy. Once the drink wears off, the effects of dehydration can be felt acutely. In extreme cases, dehydration can be fatal.

The sugar in an energy drink is a large part of the "buzz" that hits once it's consumed. Sugar over stimulates the nervous system, causing people to feel a burst of energy. The individual then feels worse than before and sometimes has a craving for more sugar. This is a very unhealthy pattern for the body to get into, and it can weaken the immune system.

Mixing energy drinks, especially the brand Red Bull, with alcohol has become popular recently. The caffeine is supposed to counteract the depressant effect of alcohol. Energy drinks can lessen some of the subjective effects of alcohol intoxication like dizziness and headache. However, they may be unable to counteract some of the psychomotor impairments of alcohol intoxication…However, this mixture is believed to cause cardiopulmonary or cardiovascular failures.

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