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The Truth Behind Energy Drinks: Separating Fact from Fiction

What is an energy drink?

Products in liquid form that typically containing large amounts of caffeine, added sugars, other additives, and legal stimulants such as guarana, taurine, and L-carnitine.


Energy drinks can increase alertness, attention, and energy, as well as increasing blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing. Marketed as enhancers of mental acuity and physical performance.



The Truth Behind Energy Drinks: Separating Fact from Fiction
The Truth Behind Energy Drinks: Separating Fact from Fiction

Taurine:

-Derivative of the amino acid cysteine, is found abundantly in cardiac and skeletal muscles

-Promotes regular heartbeat and has neuroprotective qualities


L-carnitine:

-Derivative of an amino acid

-Occurs naturally in animal foods

-Plays a role in energy production


Guarana:

-Stimulant that often exceeds the caffeine content of coffee

-NCAA BANNED SUBSTANCE


Potential Health Consequences

Heart consequences:

-Arrhythmias/irregular heart beat

-Contraction of blood vessels and narrowing of arteries

-Heart attack

-Loss of consciousness

-Heart disease


Brain consequences:

-Reduced sleep

-Insomnia

-Anxiety

-Tremors

-Seizures

-Manic psychosis


Kidney consequences:

-Excess sodium excretion

-Hypokalemia

-Dehydration

-Kidney injury

-Coma


Other major organ consequences:

-Inflammation of the stomach

-Inflammation of the liver

-Inflammation of the pancreas


Caffeine, even in small doses, has been shown to enhance exercise performance. However, tolerability is highly individual. That said, it is typically not recommended to exceed more than 400mg of caffeine a day (or 200mg in one sitting) and a drug test that reveals caffeine concentrations exceeding 15 micrograms/mL will result in a positive drug test and removal from sport. A recent literature review recommended no more than two energy drinks per day.


Citation: Costantino, A., Maiese, A., Lazzari, J., Casula, C., Turillazzi, E., Frati, P., & Fineschi, V. (2023). The Dark Side of Energy Drinks: A Comprehensive Review of Their Impact on the Human Body. Nutrients, 15(18), 3922. https://doi-org.proxy.lib.umich.edu/10.3390/nu15183922



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