Energy drink facts are helpful to know before you go adventuring into the exciting and sometimes scary world of energy drinks.
“Like, Dude! What are all these ingredients?”
Well, first there are the fairly Good Ingredients — the B vitamins are useful for energy production in our cells; D-ribose is for building the body’s energy molecule, ATP; Vitamin C is good for quenching free radicals caused by energy production; Guarana is a South American herb, with a long history of successful use as a stimulant — more long-lasting and euphoric than anhydrous caffeine (no crash, either); green tea is a very healthy anti-cancer drink, loaded with polyphenols.
Taurine is actually a Good Ingredient that is the subject of urban legends with no basis in fact. It is a natural amino acid with many uses in protecting and regulating energy production in our body.
There are a number of other herbs, such as milk thistle extract and panax ginseng that have a long history of safe use. Milk thistle is a liver detoxifier, added in hopes of preventing hangovers. Ginseng is recognized as an adaptogen, helping the body deal with stress.
The Bad Ingredients are, in my opinion, 1) Large quantities of sugar, especially High Fructose Corn Syrup, which is very fattening and is hard on your liver; 2) Anhydrous caffeine, basically dried caffeine, extracted from coffee when they make decaf — Depending on how many milligrams in the energy drink, you may get a cup of coffee’s worth or you may get a “nervous breakdown, can’t sleep all night, heart-racing experience”.
The really Ugly Ingredients are preservatives Sodium Benzoate, artificial sweeteners such as Sucralose, sugar alcohols, and especially Aspartame, which is a nerve poison, AKA excitotoxin. Aspartame has been identified as tumor-producing and potentially connected with such neurodegenerative diseases as Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and ALS by neurosurgeon Russell Blaylock, MD.
As a general rule about the energy drink facts concerning artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, I know they aren’t necessary, so I would rather not run them through my kidneys and liver to find out what they do, long term.
Another baddie that is a major ingredient in 5 Hour Energy and a few other drinks is L-phenylalanine, which can cause allergic reactions in people with a sensitivity called PKU. I am somewhat sensitive to this stuff and I can tell you, this is the stuff insomnia is made of. It feels pretty good on the front end, but coming down from it is a bummer because it is very difficult to get quality sleep.
Some people have really hellacious experiences on this junk, especially combined with caffeine as it is in 5 Hour Energy.
A Little Information About The Variable Called Dosage
There is a point at which a young mind thinks that if a little of something that was enjoyable, then a whole lot will be fantastic. Not necessarily!
There is a point, just as there is with alcohol intoxication, where one crosses an invisible line — and you find yourself in The Twilight Zone, where you feel like you’re going to get sick or maybe have a heart attack. This is no fun, but it is unpredictable, and a youngster probably wouldn’t listen to your or my warnings anyway.
If your kid is drinking energy drinks powered with guarana, green tea, yerba mate’, or kola nut, I wouldn’t worry too much about the risk of a cardiac episode (tachycardia, rapid heart beat, or heart attack). On the other hand, if they are pounding down can after can of highly caffeinated brands like Cocaine, Wired, Redline, or any 5 Hour Energy product, you would be wise to have a man-to-man talk with them, pronto.
For the long term effects of drinking only one can per day of the high sugar drinks, there is an increased risk of diabetes of 85%. (From the Harvard Nurses Health Study, an 8-year study of 91,000 nurses.)
The energy drink facts that are most worrying are the extreme levels of anhydrous caffeine and sugar, coupled with the tendency of young people to go to extremes and end up in the emergency room dealing with an overdose of caffeine and/or L-phenylalanine.
Like they say about guns, “Guns don’t kill; people do.” Only a few of the energy drink ingredients are especially toxic (aspartame, artificial colors, sweeteners, flavors — Nobody knows what the long term effects are of these things). The vitamins, taurine l-arginine, carnitine, and herbs I wouldn’t worry about.
Everyone is so worked up about the supposed danger of energy drinks, but really, many of the same bad ingredients have been in soft drinks for decades. We see the effects of drinking Giant Gulps of high fructose corn syrup sweetened drinks in the obesity epidemic, but the diabetes and neurological damage from aspartame and the many other Ugly ingredients is yet to be determined.
A study of basic energy drink facts can clear up which are the dangerous drinks and which are worth trying.