Energy drinks are becoming the beverage of choice for people of all ages. As their popularity rises, so do the sales numbers. Although soft drinks are still the largest seller of all cold drinks, energy drinks continue to chip away, claiming a larger percentage of this lucrative market each year.
Aggressive marketing campaigns directed at athletes and young people have spurred the popularity of energy drinks nationwide. Hip and edgy advertisements promise that energy drinks will ignite the mind, refresh the body, help you party like a rock star, as well as enhance performance and stamina.
Energy drinks are especially popular among college students looking for something to help them stay alert during all-night study sessions. As well as, they are also used to mix popular alcoholic drinks and cocktails.
Energy drinks with names like Rock Star, Monster, Red Bull, Hot Pure, Sentinel, Amp and Recon all sell the image of energy, speed, and strength. Uniquely designed, as well as colorful, packaging helps increase the attraction for users who are lured by the “cool” factor.
Although young people make up the largest percentage of users, energy drinks appeal to anyone who feels as if they need an extra boost, and these days, that means most of us. Energy drinks appeal to truck drivers trying to stay awake for the long haul, computer programmers, young professionals, as well as athletes hoping to increase their performance.
Energy Drinks Have Double the Caffeine of Soft Drinks
Caffeine is the primary ingredient in energy drinks, with the majority of the drinks containing twice the amount of caffeine found in soft drinks
The ingredients that make up of energy drinks vary widely, but sugar is generally the secondary ingredient. This in itself is an energy booster for most people. One container of an energy drink will have between 14 and 17 teaspoons of sugar. If someone consumes several cans of an energy drink, they would consume a tremendous amount of sugar. Most health professionals recommend a limit of 12 teaspoons of sugar per day.
Other ingredients vary from brand to brand and are often herbal, allowing the producer to promote the drink as healthy and nutritious. Most of these herbal ingredients are energy boosters.
Taurine is an amino acid that is found naturally in the body. A person’s taurine balance can become depleted during extreme physical exertion as well as during times of high stress. It is also believed to have antioxidant properties that can enable the body to dispose of toxins and harmful substances more efficiently.
L-Carnitine is another amino acid found naturally in the human body that is believed to increase energy and metabolism.
Many energy drinks contain such herbs as ginkgo biloba, an herb that is believed to aid memory and concentration, or ginseng and guarana root, herbal ingredients that are thought to increase energy and reduce stress.
Possible Risks of Energy Drinks
The high levels of caffeine in energy drinks can create problems for many consumers. Caffeine is a stimulant and is known to be mildly addictive. When used excessively, it can create stomach ulcers, nervousness, headaches, and heart palpitations, but how much caffeine it takes to cause problems varies from person to person.
Thought to be potentially more problematic are the various extra energy boosters. The level of these ingredients is usually not listed on the label, and it is often difficult to know how ingredients such as taurine, L-Carnitine and energy-enhancing herbs will affect the body when combined with caffeine.
Although the jury may be out about the health benefits and potential risks of energy drinks, there is no argument that they become particularly dangerous when they are combined with alcohol. Unfortunately, this use of energy drinks is becoming increasingly popular.
Mixing a depressant like alcohol with a stimulant like an energy drink is often an invitation for trouble because the energy drink can lessen alcohol’s effect on the metabolism. As a result, it is easy to drink more and feel the effects less, an especially dangerous combination that leads drinkers to believe they are not as impaired as they really are. Energy drinks can also make alcoholic drinks taste less like alcohol.
Energy Drinks in Moderation
When it comes to energy drinks, the old adage is especially true. Energy drinks are believed to be a safe drink when used in moderation. An occasional energy drink will cause most people no problems whatsoever, and may give the user a slight and short-lived boost of energy. However, energy drinks should not take the place of proper nutrition and adequate rest, should never be used in place of a meal, and should never be mixed with alcohol.