Banned in some countries and hyping up club goers everywhere, here’s what you should know about energy drinks
By Vanessa Puig
Monster. Cocaine. Full Throttle. No Fear. Red Bull. The names themselves pack the punch they promise. Energy drinks have become the new way for many people to get their daily boost. Their popularity, particularly among students, has also sparked some interesting questions. Here’s the lowdown on what some people are asking.
1. What gives energy drinks that extra jolt?
Caffeine, and lots of it. Another ingredient commonly found in energy drinks is guarana extract, an herb similar to caffeine. Vitamin B-complex, ginseng and carnitine (an amino acid we typically consume) are other additives you’ll find on labels, but none of them really give energy drinks the rush consumers expect.
2. Who’s drinking this stuff?
Mostly young people. Marketers have focused their efforts mainly on the college crowd and young adult workforce. It’s also estimated that 7.6 million American teenagers are boosting the energy drink market, which has become a $3 billion-a-year industry. Energy drinks are also becoming popular in the club scene where they are typically mixed with other liquors.
3. Does Red Bull contain bull testosterone?
Strangely enough, rumor has it that one of Red Bull’s ingredients – taurine – is derived from bull testosterone. Rest assured, taurine is actually an antioxidant that occurs naturally in the human body. In fact, taurine is a common ingredient in several brands of energy drinks, not exclusively Red Bull.
4. Are energy drinks banned in certain countries?
Yes. Countries like France, Canada, Denmark and Norway have all banned energy drinks (particularly Red Bull) due to concerns about the effects of consuming excessive amounts of caffeine.
5. So are energy drinks safe?
There’s been much debate in the medical community for the answer to this question. Energy drinks are loaded with caffeine, and the FDA does not require companies to list how much caffeine is in their product on the packaging. Just how much caffeine are you knocking back? A study done at the University of Florida compared the amounts of caffeine in energy drinks versus a can of Coca-Cola (containing 30 milligrams of caffeine). Drinking a Red Bull is the equivalent of drinking two cans of Coke; AMP contains the caffeine of four and a half Cokes; and one can of SoBe’s No Fear is the same as drinking a whopping five Cokes. Just to put how much caffeine that is into perspective, a regular cup of coffee usually has 80 to over 100 milligrams of caffeine.
The problem lies in the potential for caffeine addiction. Consuming 100 milligrams of caffeine a day can lead to mild addiction, with excessive amounts causing nervousness, irritability, insomnia and diarrhea. A sudden stop in consumption could create withdrawal symptoms of headaches and drowsiness. However, other studies have shown that consuming caffeinated beverages may prevent heart disease in the elderly.
To guzzle or not to guzzle? The bottom line is that this is a new realm of study, but the general consensus is not to drink any of these beverages in excess.