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What Is "5 Hour Energy" and How Does It Work?

author image Clay McNight
Clay McNight is currently a nutrition writer with Demand Media Studios.
What Is "5 Hour Energy" and How Does It Work?
Five hour energy drinks for sale on a shelf. Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images News/Getty Images

5-Hour Energy is a supplement containing caffeine, B vitamins, amino acids and other substances that may or may not increase energy and focus. The manufacturer of 5-Hour Energy claims the formula is safe and will provide hours of energy without the "crash" some users experience when consuming energy drinks or supplements.

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Like most energy supplements, the original 5-Hour Energy formula contains a considerable amount of caffeine. Caffeine is usually the key ingredient, and most potent energy producing substance, in energy formulas. Medline Plus notes that caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that can be used for short-term relief of drowsiness or fatigue. The 5-Hour Energy website states that the original formula contains about as much caffeine as a 12-ounce cup of coffee. One 2012 "Consumer Reports" test found 5-Hour Energy to contain 215 milligrams of caffeine.


5-Hour Energy contains four different B-vitamins; B-6 at 2,000 percent of the daily value, B-12 at 8,333 percent of the DV, niacin at 150 percent of the DV and folic acid at 100 percent of the DV. B-vitamins can help the body process the calories you consume to produce energy. In addition, B-vitamins help form red blood cells, which are required for energy. Although these vitamins are required for energy, there is no evidence that consuming high amounts of them can increase energy. Medline Plus rates vitamin B-12 as having insufficient evidence to improve tiredness or fatigue.

Amino Acids

5-Hour Energy contains the amino acids tyrosin, phenylalanine and taurine. Amino acids are naturally occurring organic compounds that combine to form proteins. Amino acids can be used by the body as a source of energy. NYU Langone Medical Center notes that taurine is sometimes combined with other amino acids to treat attention deficit disorder, which may be evidence for its role in 5-hour Energy to increase focus. Although the body can use amino acids for energy, there is no scientific proof that supplementing amino acids can increase energy or focus.

Other Ingredients

The final three ingredients in the 5-Hour Energy blend include citicoline, malic acid and glucuronolactone. Citicoline is a naturally occurring brain chemical, malic acid is a substance produced when the body converts carbohydrates into energy and glucuronolactone is a substance produced in the liver. There is no scientific evidence showing that any of these three ingredients are effective in increasing energy. The caffeine in 5-Hour Energy is the sole ingredient proven to increase energy through central nervous system stimulation. Although the other ingredients in the formula may prove to be effective on some people, at this time the scientific evidence to support their use does not exist.

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