For most adults in good health, energy drinks are not harmful, but for some people these beverages increase health risks.
It is not advisable for children, athletes, pregnant women and people with sensitivity to caffeine to consume energy drinks. Using energy drinks as mixers with alcohol can also have negative side-effects.
Red Bull, Rock Star, Hyphy Juice and the like are becoming more popular among young people. Companies market their energy drink products with a variety of flavors and different labels, most often in slender aluminum cans.
“Energy drink sales totaled $3.5 billion last year, and are up so far this year by 75 percent,” said John Sichter, editor and publisher of Beverage Digest.
Individuals use energy drinks to get a boost in energy and alertness for a variety of reasons. These reasons might be work, school, a physical activity, to stay awake or to lose weight.
Most people who use energy drinks don’t know what it is that provide the ‘jolt’ of energy or increased alertness. The fact is that energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine, a stimulant. Caffeine is the most commonly abused stimulant.
Energy drinks have on average about two times the amount of caffeine found in a 12 oz. Coca Cola or a level equivalent to a strong cup of coffee. Caffeine increases heart rate, blood pressure and raises alertness. It can also increase dehydration and leads to sleeplessness.
Children should not use energy drinks. According to research conducted by the Australian Consumers’ Association, children and young people who consume energy drinks may suffer sleep problems, bed-wetting and anxiety.
Energy drinks can have negative consequences for athletes. Drinking energy beverages before physical exercise can lead to dehydration. Energy drinks are not similar to sports drinks, like Gatorade, that replenish salts and vitamins that the body loses as it sweats. Energy drinks provide an athlete with brief feeling of increased energy with the possibility of dehydration. As the drug begins to wear off the user experiences a come-down feeling accompanied by fatigue.
Pregnant women and people with sensitivity to caffeine should refrain from drinking energy drinks. Although not scientifically proven, high levels of caffeine are believed to increase the risk of miscarriage, low weight babies, and complications during birth. For those with heart disease or high sensitivity to caffeine, energy drinks increase the risk of heart attack.