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Energy drinks -Use with extreme caution !

October 22, 2014

What are energy drinks?

Energy drink is a term invented by the beverage industry. It is not FDA approved and describes a drink that includes caffeine combined with various herbs or vitamin products. In Canada, caffeine does not have to be listed on labels unless it has been added to the product separately as a pure substance. That means that consumers of energy drinks, especially young people, can develop serious side effects from unrealized high caffeine consumption, and become dependent on such products.

“Caffeine loaded energy drinks have now crossed the line from beverages to drugs delivered as tasty syrups,” wrote Drs. Paul Hebert, Noni MacDonald and Matthew Stanbrook, in their editorial, published in the CMAJ’s July edition. “However, because energy drinks are regulated as foods, the manufacturers are only required to list ingredients according to standard food formats. The total caffeine content or equivalent in cups of coffee are nowhere to be seen. There are no health warnings.”

Stimulants such as guarana and ginsing are often added and these increase the effects of the drink. More than 100mg/day of caffeine has been shown to increase blood pressure. With guarana alone 1g is equal to almost 40mg of caffeine.

Should energy drinks be consumed before or during exercise?     

Karrie Heneman, PhD,Project Scientist and Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr, PhD from Nutrition Science Specialist Department of Nutrition,University of California tell us.

If you experience any of the following AND drink “energy” drinks-stop. It could be caffeine toxicity. Acute caffeine intoxication can cause a multitude of symptoms. They can include the following:

  • Nausea
  • VomitingEnergy%20Drinks%20Danger
  • Heart palpitations
  • GI (gastrointestinal) upset
  • Potential heart arrhythmia (irregular heart beat)
  • Feelings of anxiety and nervousness
  • Feelings of being hyper-energized
  • Irritability
  • Loss of sleep

What can you do?

  • Read the labels of all health products you consume, including energy drinks.  Some cans/bottles contain more than one serving so you need to multiply the per serving dose to know the amount of ingredients you are drinking.
  • Even better! Make healthy beverage choices, especially when playing sports or exercising. Water is always a better choice than an energy drink, real fruit or fruit juice, and chocolate or other milk drinks.

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