How Energy Drinks are Affecting Your Health

By Kat Brown, Recent Arizona State University Nutrition Student 

6 tips to preventing caffeine addiction

  1.       Pre-existing conditions
  2.       Know your limits
  3.       Read the labels
  4.       Beware the “buzz”
  5.       Instant energy boosters
  6.       See the signs

Pre-existing conditions

Many conditions may heavily influence how these energy drinks affect your body personally. Often times fatal incidents that site energy drinks as the cause are combined with a pre-existing condition.  Most often these conditions involve some type of cardiac arrhythmia. Conditions that involve jeopardized heart health, blood pressure, or other major organ functions can intensify the effects of energy drinks creating the platform for a lethal combination.

Know your Limits

Just because your coworker can down 2 Rockstar’s before lunch and seem totally fine doesn’t mean you can do the same. Caffeine can affect individuals differently based on their tolerance. A research study from The Journal for Nurse Practitioners reviewed the effects of caffeine on individuals found that people develop a caffeine tolerance. Someone who drinks a red bull every morning may have developed a tolerance to that caffeine dosage and may not be affected the same as someone who rarely drinks energy drinks. Also, studies have shown that while smaller doses of caffeine, 40mg, may help improve cognition, 80mg or higher may impair cognition. Dr. David Kruse states, “The ability to tolerate caffeine with exercise is based on fitness level, hydration status, pre-existing medical conditions, and medication use.”

Read the labels

How often do you flip over that can you just bought at the convenience store? In order to know how much caffeine you are consuming it is important to know what is in these energy drinks.  The FDA regulation for caffeine is 72mg per 12 fluid ounces, many of these energy drinks contain anywhere from 6.67mg/oz to 33.33 mg/oz of caffeine.  After receiving scrutiny from consumers many of these energy drink brands have begun to suggest that their products are more “natural”. They site the use of ingredients such as taurine, B vitamins, inositol, ginseng, ginko biloba, L-carnitine, and L-Theanine.

Beware the “buzz”

Many of these drinks use “buzz” words to attract consumers. Pimp juice and Cocaine are two energy drinks that have used provocative names to entice consumers into purchasing these drinks. Other energy drinks use words like “zero-crash” and “party like a rockstar” to attract consumers. Companies such as Kraft promote their energy drink Mio Energy by stating that the black cherry flavor is “so wild it could get you arrested on a plane, but it’s worth the lawyer fees.”

Instant Energy-Boosters

Now that you’ve been reading those labels your starting to second-guess guzzling down that 24oz. can of sugar. Try some of these energy-boosters instead:

  • “Sunlight energizes and elevates mood,” says Dr. Lorraine Maita, a board certified internist and author of Vibrance for Life: How to Live Younger and Healthier in Short Hills, New Jersey.
  • Tap your thymus with your fingertips for 20 seconds, while slowly and deeply breathing in and out. “Your thymus is located at center top of your chest, below the collar bone, between your breasts. When tapped it triggers the production of T-cells, boosts energy, relieves stress, and increases strength and vitality,” says Marian Buck-Murray, a nutrition coach and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) practitioner in Maplewood, New Jersey
  • Stretch often, energy can be zapped from periods of inactivity. Blood vessels constrict during prolonged periods of stillness and can make you feel drowsy. Do not stay stagnant for too long and make sure to get up and stretch often.

See the Signs

It is important to be aware of the signs of caffeine intoxication. Excessive caffeine intake can result in migraines, cardiac arrhythmia, compromised sleep cycles, dehydration, increased blood pressure, nervousness, anxiety, headaches, tremors, and dysphoric mood changes. Caffeine meets all the requirements for being an addictive substance, including dependence, tolerance, and withdrawal and should be recognized as such.


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