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Friday, March 29, 2013

Energy drinks: Facts behind this Fad

ENERGY DRINKS are supposed to do just what the name implies -- give you an extra burst of energy. The most popular amongst them RED BULL. They have been drawing attention recently for their potential health threat.

First lets differentiate these so called energy drinks from the other commonly used drinks.
Soft drinks are mainly water, sugar and flavoring. They don't do anything for your body; they're just supposed to taste good.
Sports drinks are designed to replenish fluids lost during activity. They typically contain water, electrolytes and sugar.
Energy drinks have added caffeine and other ingredients that their manufacturers say increase stamina and "boost" performance. They're designed for students, athletes and anyone else who wants an extra energy kick.

As it turns out, most of that "energy" comes from two main ingredients: sugar and caffeine. A typical energy drink can contain up to 80 milligrams of caffeine (about the same amount as a cup of coffee).

Energy drinks became popular in Asia long before they reached the United States.
An Austrian businessman named Dietrich Mateschitz picked up on the cash potential of energy drinks while on a business trip to Asia. Along with two Thai business partners, Mateschitz started the company Red Bull GmbH, with the idea of marketing the drink to young Europeans.
Red Bull began distributing its drink in the United States in 1997. Although Red Bull has consistently been the leader in the energy drink market, several other companies have launched their own energy drink lines. Many of them are endorsed by celebrities.

Here are some of the other ingredients you may find in popular energy drinks:

  • Taurine - Taurine is an ingredient in most energy drinks. Scientists first discovered taurine in ox bile in 1827. The name "taurine" actually references "taurus", Latin for "bull" or "ox". Urban legends have suggested that the taurine in Red Bull comes from bull semen and bull urine. While it's true that taurine could be extracted from those sources, the taurine used in Red Bull and other energy drinks is synthetically produced. Its a natural amino acid produced by the body that helps regulate heart beat and muscle contractions.
  • Ginseng
  • B-vitamins
  • Guarana seed
  • Carnitine
  • Creatine
  • Inositol
  • Ginkgo biloba
  • Glucuronolactone


Energy drinks are generally safe, but like most things, you should drink them in moderation. Because caffeine is a stimulant -- consuming a lot of it can lead to heart palpitations, anxiety and insomnia -- it also can make you feel jittery and irritable. Over time, caffeine can become addictive. It is also a diuretic -- it causes the kidneys to remove extra fluid into the urine. That leaves less fluid in the body. so drinking an energy drink while you're exercising can be particularly dangerous. The combination of the diuretic effect and sweating can severely dehydrate you.
Many people mix energy drinks with vodka or other alcohol to make a high-energy cocktail. One study found that men who combined energy drinks with alcohol felt alert and sober, even though they were actually drunk. And since both alcohol and energy drinks dehydrate you, when combined they can cause your body's fluids to drop to dangerous levels.

RED BULL BANNED!

Red Bull may be the best selling energy drink in the United States, but it isn't so popular in other countries. In 2000, the French government decided to ban Red Bull after the brand was linked to the death of an 18-year-old Irish athlete. The teenager died after drinking four cans of Red Bull at a game. French laws dictate the maximum amount of caffeine that companies can add to products, and Red Bull exceeds that limit. Denmark and Norway have also banned the drink. Other countries, such as Canada, require the can to carry a warning label for pregnant women and children.

In the past eight years, Red Bull products have appeared in 21 of the United States Food and Drug Administration’s reports about adverse health events. The FDA said it will consider asking companies to disclose the amount of caffeine in food products, as well as imposing limitations on the products' use and warnings about possible side effects. That comes in the wake of an investigation into five deaths that could be linked with Monster Beverage's energy drinks, and 13 deaths that could be tied to 5-Hour Energy, the popular energy shots.

According to a latest meta-analysis, these Energy Drinks may temporarily Increase Systolic Blood Pressure & QT Interval.

It would be wise to conclude on this note. Energy drinks are meant to enhance the sapping energy levels. A few health concerns apart, they are relatively safe unlike the colas. However, they do have a strong potential to be misused by Gen Next.


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  2. I am not convinced about the relative safety of energy drinks vis a vis colas. Has a coke killed ANYONE so far? Also, do not forget the addictive ability, the false status value of the drink and its high cost.

    - Dr. Taher

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