Energy drinks are a common way for many people to boost their energy levels, helping them get through their day without feeling like they need a nap. You may be one of the people who gets a lecture from your friends and family each time you crack open that energy drink. So much so, you have begun to wonder: Are energy drinks actually safe?
Frank LoVecchio, DO, medical toxicologist with the Banner Poison Control Center, is here to answer this exact question.
Dr. LoVecchio says most energy drinks claim 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.”
Dr. LoVecchio instructed, to protect your health, it’s important to read the ingredients on the drink container and understand their effects. Unfortunately, another added concern with this is ingredients in energy drinks are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Ingredients like guarana, ephedra, taurine, ginseng and green tea either contain large amounts of caffeine or can mimic the effects of caffeine. So, for individuals trying to avoid caffeine, energy drinks aren’t for you. 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.
Remember: Getting adequate rest, eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly are the best ways to boost your overall energy day-to-day. Be sure to talk with your doctor before introducing any energy drinks, caffeine or herbal supplements into your daily diet.
A version of this post originally appeared on March 31, 2015.