Are energy drinks safe?


I used to be a big fan of energy drinks. It was how I got through my day, and during college around exam time, I found myself drinking one after another. After many lectures from my mother about how they just weren't healthy for a person, I decided to ask an expert.

I turned to Frank LoVecchio, DO, medical toxicologist with the Banner Poison Control Center to ask the question, are energy drinks safe?

Dr. LoVecchio let me know that most energy drinks claim that their high levels of sugar and caffeine boost energy. Though sugar will spike blood glucose levels, it won't necessarily provide a person with more energy. Caffeine, however, is a stimulant proven to make a person feel more awake and alert.

“While small amounts of caffeine are not generally dangerous to most people, large amounts can increase blood pressure and accelerate the heart rate,” said Dr. LoVecchio. “For individuals with underlying heart conditions, these side effects can be especially hazardous.”

Unfortunately, ingredients in energy drinks are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. For people trying to avoid caffeine by choosing a caffeine-free option, understanding what else is hiding in that drink is important. Ingredients like guarana, ephedra, taurine, ginseng and green tea either contain large amounts of caffeine or can mimic the effects of caffeine. Some energy drinks also have significant levels of B vitamins, which do not act as a stimulant but can create an allergic reaction in some people.

Dr. LoVecchio instructed that, in order to protect your health, read the ingredients on the drink container and know their effects. Also, talk with your doctor before introducing an energy drink or caffeine or herbal supplements into your diet.

And, remember, getting adequate rest, eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly are the best ways to boost energy, but if the energy drink is a must, keep to one serving daily.

Also read: Can I drink one soda a day?

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