Monster drinks can give you extra energy, but you need to also be aware of possible side effects of energy drinks on the body. Studies show that the side effects of energy drinks like Monster can range from mild to severe, depending on your health background and age.
Monster Energy touts that it has the "ideal combo of the right ingredients in the right proportion to deliver the big bad buzz that only Monster can," and they definitely do provide a buzz — but is this a healthy buzz?
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Energy drinks like Monster do give you increased energy and alertness. However, there are many negative side effects, including irregular heartbeat, anxiety, insomnia, feeling jittery and, when mixed with alcohol, increased aggression.
Energy Drinks and Heart Health
One of the most concerning Monster drinks side effects is how it can affect the heart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that energy drinks can cause heart complications ranging from an irregular heartbeat, or at the more extreme range, even heart failure.
You may wonder how an energy drink could do this — after all, it's just the caffeine, right? Not exactly. A small study of 18 young, healthy volunteers published in the April 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association compared the hearts of those drinking energy drinks to those drinking just caffeine.
Those who had drunk the energy drink showed abnormal electrical activity and an increased risk of an arrhythmia two hours later, while the caffeine-only drinkers did not have any of these effects. In fact, four hours later the energy drinkers still had high blood pressure levels, while the caffeine-only drinkers did not.
What caused the effects of energy drinks on the body? The authors of the study concluded that it is not the caffeine in the energy drinks that cause the side effects, but all the extra ingredients that are added, including taurine, ginseng root extract and guarana seed extract, that have these effects on the body.
Anxiety and Insomnia Side Effects
The CDC reports that, along with the heart complications, other side effects of energy drinks include insomnia and feeling nervous, jittery or anxious. Monster reports that one 16-ounce can has 160 milligrams of caffeine. However, the company's Java Monster has 188 milligrams per can.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, healthy adults can have up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, while teens should have no more than 100 milligrams of caffeine.
As the study above showed, however, Monster drinks side effects aren't from just the added caffeine listed on the label, but the other ingredients that increase the overall caffeine content. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that the guarana seed contains caffeine, so that ingredient alone makes the caffeine content much higher, which causes the side effects of anxiety and insomnia or difficulty falling asleep.
Mixing Energy Drinks With Alcohol
Mixing energy drinks with alcohol, such a Monster or Red Bull with vodka, is a popular choice, especially at college campuses. One of the side effects of energy drinks, however, is that when it is mixed with alcohol, it can cause aggression or other risky behavior.
A September 2018 study in the Journal of Psychiatric Research showed that the ingredient taurine, which is in energy drinks like Monster, when combined with alcohol caused zebrafish to display aggressive and more predatory actions, along with more risk-seeking behavior.
The NIH backed up these study findings for humans, saying that those who mixed energy drinks with alcohol were more likely to drive drunk, report unwanted or unprotected sex, and have alcohol-related injuries.
Bottom Line on Energy Drinks
Even though Monster drinks have ingredients that can increase energy and alertness, the potential negative effects of energy drinks on the body should have you drink with caution, especially if you have a heart condition.
In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids and adolescents should not drink energy drinks at all due to the potential for side effects to their developing bodies. Talk to your kids so that they are aware of the effects of these energy drinks on their heart, as well as how they can affect their sleep.
Adults should also be aware of Monster drinks side effects and the effect on your cardiovascular health. Consider limiting yourself to half of a can per day or less. You should also consider coffee or tea to get the similar stimulant effects without the negative side effects from energy drinks.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "The Buzz on Energy Drinks"
- Journal of the American Heart Association: "Randomized Controlled Trial of High-Volume Energy Drink Versus Caffeine Consumption on ECG and Hemodynamic Parameters"
- Monster Energy: "Home"
- Journal of Psychiatric Research: "Taurine Modulates Acute Ethanol-induced Social Behavioral Deficits and Fear Responses in Adult Zebrafish"
- American Academy of Pediatrics: "Energy Drinks"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Spilling the Beans: How Much Caffeine Is Too Much?"
- National Institutes of Health: "Energy Drinks"
- Monster Energy: "Java Monster"
- Monster Energy: Products