Editor's note: Please note that the statement"Energy drinks are soft drinks (meaning
with alcohol) that ---" is incorrect. The author meant to say "Energy drinks are soft drinks (meaning
without alcohol) that ---." By definition, soft drinks are non-alcoholic beverages! We apologize for the error.
Common Questions and Answers about energy drinks
What are energy drinks?
Energy drinks are soft drinks (meaning without alcohol) that
contain caffeine and other stimulants such as ephedrine, guarana, and
The beverages may not contain
more calories than normal soft drinks, but they are often believed to help
enhance performance and boost alertness as some studies showed.
Energy drinks are often marketed to people
under 30, particularly to college students.
Is it true that energy drinks boost alertness and enhance
At least two studies showed significantly improvements in
mental and cognitive performance and increase subjective alertness in those who
drank an energy drink. In repeated cycling tests in young healthy adults, an
energy drink drastically increased upper body muscle endurance.
Are there any dangers to drinking energy drinks?
High doses of caffeine are known to pose a range of
short-term side effects.
with energy drinks is probably that there is no regulation in the US about
caffeine, which is a natural stimulant.
Energy drinks may contain caffeine at a level anywhere between from 50
mg to 505 mg per can or bottle, according to a recent Johns Hopkins study.
Without paying attention, people may over-ingest caffeine leading to unintentional
reactions induced by high doses of caffeine, particularly in those who are
sensitive to the compound, include increased heart rate and blood pressure, in
severe cases dehydration, and inability of falling into sleep.
One study showed side effects associated with caffeine in
energy drinks include insomnia, nervousness, headache, and tachycardia.
Four caffeine-related deaths and four
seizures have been reported.
When should energy drinks not be used?
Energy drinks should not be used when exercising as fluid
loss from sweating and the diuretic activity of caffeine can cause severe
Energy drinks should not be
used in an attempt to offset the effect of alcohol on one's capability of
operating a vehicle.
What would happen when energy drinks are combined with
The real danger of caffeine to someone who is drinking is
that caffeine could mislead him to believe that he is drinking the right amount
of alcohol without realizing that actually he could have been drinking too
It is true that caffeine provide alertness. But it does
not change the level of alcohol in the blood. Once the stimulant disappears,
the depressant effect of the blood alcohol at high concentration would manifest
leading to vomiting in one's sleep or respiratory depression.
Both energy drinks and alcohol can be very dehydrating
and thus inhibiting the body's ability to metabolize alcohol and boosting the
toxicity of alcohol and the hangover.
How safe is it to use energy drinks?
Energy drinks in itself are relatively safe.
Most ingredients including ginseng,
maltodextrin, inositol, carnitine, creatine, ginkgo biloba, taurine, vitamins
and herbs appear to be safe. The only concern is probably caffeine, which varies
in its content greatly from brand to brand.
report authored by
Reissig CJ, Strain EC, and Griffiths RR at the Johns Hopkins University School
of Medicine and published in the Sep 20, 2008 issue of Drug and
Alcohol Dependence calls for warning labels
for energy drinks.
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