Energy drinks are marketed toward people who desire a boost in energy. According to an article in the March 2011 issue of "Pediatrics," 30 to 50 percent of adolescents and young adults reportedly consume energy drinks. Common energy drinks include Red Bull, Monster, Amp, Rockstar and 5-hour Energy. The main ingredients in these drinks are caffeine and sugar. Energy drinks will help you overcome fatigue, but they may be hazardous to your health.
Many people depend on coffee to start their day. Caffeine boosts your energy and causes you to feel more alert and awake. Since these effects wear off after a few hours, you may experience a mid-afternoon lull shortly after lunch. Energy drinks can provide the extra oomph that you seek in order to get through your day. These energy drinks are often marketed towards young adults who have responsibilities in addition to work, such as family obligations, or aspirations to further their education.
Lack of Sleep
The regular use of energy drinks may be indicative of an underlying condition such as fatigue or insomnia, according to registered dietitian Kara Mitchell from Duke University. Fatigue is a symptom of a multitude of mental and physical health conditions. Fatigue caused by insomnia or lack of sleep is treatable. However, frequent use of energy drinks may mask the underlying condition. Energy drinks may also cause adverse health conditions such as irritability and high blood pressure, according to Mitchell.
The majority of energy drinks do not contain alcohol. Mixing alcohol with energy drinks is not uncommon among college students and young adults. The idea is that caffeine will reduce the sedative effects of alcohol and make you more alert. Researchers assessed the attention and reaction times of young adult drinkers between the ages of 21 and 30, after drinking energy drinks with alcohol. This study was published in the February 2011 issue of "Addiction," and found an association between alcohol and impairments in attention and reaction. However, the addition of caffeine did not mitigate these impairments.
Energy drinks and sports drinks, like Gatorade and Powerade, are not interchangeable. As such, they may be kept in separate aisles at supermarkets. Dr. Edward Laskowski of the Mayo Clinic suggests drinking water or sports drinks when you exercise, not energy drinks. One reason is that sports drinks replenish fluids and electrolytes, whereas energy drinks do not. Another reason is that the caffeine in energy drinks may cause restlessness, headaches, nausea and tremors. Excessive use is associated with chest pains, seizures, heart attack and even sudden cardiac death.
- "Pediatrics"; Health Effects of Energy Drinks on Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults; S.M. Seifert, et al.; March 2011
- Duke Health: Energy Drinks
- "Addiction"; The Acute Effects of Caffeinated Versus Non-Caffeinated Alcoholic Beverage on Driving and Attention/Reaction Time; J. Howland, et al.; February 2011
- KidsHealth.org: Sports and Energy Drinks