5-Hour Energy is a type of energy drink that claims to naturally increase your energy levels for several hours at a time. While its ingredients are natural, this does not mean the drink is safe for everyone. If you use an energy supplement like 5-Hour Energy, it is important to first check with your doctor. In addition, you should follow the instructions, which include not taking more than two energy shots per day.
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What is 5-Hour Energy?
5-Hour Energy is an energy supplement made by the company of the same name. It claims to boost your energy with no more caffeine than a cup of coffee, and without a “crash” or fatigue period after use. The supplement bottle itself is small: just under 2 oz. In addition to caffeine, 5-Hour Energy contains several B vitamins, including niacin, folic acid, B-6 and B-12. 5-Hour Energy also comes in an extra-strength form, with a higher vitamin content, and a decaffeinated form, which the company website says has around the same amount of caffeine as decaffeinated coffee.
The directions for 5-Hour Energy are simple: Drink one full bottle when you need a boost. However, the 5-Hour Energy website recommends taking only half the bottle if you only need a “moderate boost” and saving the whole bottle for times when you need extra help. There also is a warning on the website: Do not exceed more than two bottles during a 24 hour period. While in theory, per these recommendations, it would seem you could safely drink two bottles every day, this may not be the case. The supplement contains well beyond the daily recommended doses for some of the B vitamins it contains, which could cause complications for some people.
Because the supplement comes in different strengths, it is possible to overload on vitamins without exceeding the company’s guidelines. If you combine a regular strength and a maximum strength shot, you get 70 mg of niacin. Per the University of Maryland Medical Center, most adults need only around 14 mg to 16 mg of niacin daily. The extra niacin can cause flushing, per UMMC, which the 5-Hour Energy site warns users about and reports is only temporary. However, large amounts of niacin can also lower blood pressure, cause ulcers and may even lead to liver damage. Per UMMC, however, most of these symptoms resolve once you stop exceeding your daily recommendation.
While folate and B-12 are generally safe for most people in large amounts, getting too much B-6 regularly could lead to medical issues. Per the UMMC, daily recommendations range from around 1.2 mg to 2 mg, depending on your age and sex. 5-Hour Energy contains 40 mg of B-6. By taking two in a 24 hour period, you get between 40 and 66 times UMMC’s daily recommendation. High doses of B-6 can cause tingling and numbness in your hands and feet, and can lead to permanent damage over time.
While it isn’t wise to take two or more energy shots during a 24 hour period, you should not take 5-Hour Energy at all without first talking to your doctor. Because it is a dietary supplement, its production and use is not evaluated and regulated by the FDA, a fact that the company prominently displays on its website. Your doctor can help you determine if the energy boost promised by the company is worth the potential risks.