We’ve all experienced those days when all you want to do is sleep even though somehow you have to find the energy to keep going. Maybe you have an interview at the end of the day or promised friends you’d make it to a late-night party. When you have to be alert and full of energy, grabbing an energy drink can seem like the easiest way to turn the day around. Add it to a cocktail and suddenly you have the energy to party with the best of them.
Some studies have found certain ingredients in energy drinks, like ginseng and B vitamins, are good for you in healthy doses. But in most cases, the very ingredients you rely on to get you going can be extremely harmful to your body. Potential risks associated with regular energy drink consumption include diabetes, miscarriages, obesity, and poor dental health, among others. The following six energy drink facts explain why your favorite picker-uppers should be consumed with care, if at all.
1. They can kill
Yep, you read that correctly. In 2012 the Food and Drug Administration reported 13 deaths since 2009 were caused by 5-Hour Energy shots alone. At that time, an additional 30 life-threatening situations like heart attacks and convulsions were reported. Since these 2012 reports, additional overdoses from energy drinks have been reported, particularly in children and teens.
2. Energy drinks contain unhealthy doses of caffeine
This may seem obvious. Of course an energy drink is packed with caffeine — it’s why it does its job so well. What’s worrisome is just how much caffeine energy drinks contain. While a typical serving of coffee has up to 150 milligrams of caffeine, some energy drinks contain up to 500 milligrams. Since caffeine is most absorbable in a solid form, energy drink companies add chemicals to the drink to make it more absorbable to the body and to ensure the customer gets that extra kick of energy. This accounts for the immediate pick-me-up effect of energy drinks and also explains the cases of insomnia, nervousness, and headaches that are reported.
3. Sugar overload
If you’re trying to lose weight or stay away from sweets, drinking an energy drink is the last thing you want to do. Some brands have up to 62 grams of sugar, which translates into roughly 15½ teaspoons of straight sugar. The crazy-high amounts of sugar make energy drinks chock-full of calories. Consider an energy drink as comparable in calorie content to a large bottle of soda.
4. You can become addicted
Energy drinks seem harmless enough, but for some people, habitual caffeine consumption can lead to dependency. People who become addicted to energy drinks will experience classic withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches or fatigue. In addition to caffeine withdrawal, energy drink fanatics often experience caffeine intoxication, which includes feelings of nervousness, restlessness, and gastrointestinal disturbance while drinking the caffeine-heavy beverages.
5. They can cause heart problems
The Canadian Journal of Cardiology published a study that looked at instances of cardiac problems after teens consumed energy drinks. What they found is energy drinks increase the risk of cardiac events, especially in teens with underlying heart conditions. This danger is increased further when mixed with exercise. The study determined that energy drinks should never be consumed before or after exercise or by people who have potential heart conditions.
6. They’re dangerous when combined with medication
You probably already know mixing energy drinks and alcohol can be dangerous, but mixing energy drinks with medications should also be avoided. Some of the ingredients in common energy drinks can interact negatively with prescription medications, especially those taken for depression.