In the last decade, the market for so-called energy drinks has grown
rapidly. These beverages are often advertised as nutritious, and some
contain vitamins or herbal extracts. But their main ingredients are
sugar and caffeine – and lots of both. And, Rose Hoban reports, that
can be bad for your health.
Nutritionist Dee Rollins with Baylor
University in Texas says she's aware of more than 200 energy drinks
that are on the market. She says the amount of caffeine they contain
can be amazingly high. "Some of these energy drinks run a couple of
hundred milligrams of caffeine per one drink," she says.
many drink manufacturers don't advertise the amount of caffeine
contained in the drinks. So, she warns, people drinking them could
easily be taking in too much of this powerful, central nervous system
"A small amount increases our awareness, decreases
our fatigue, makes us feel a little bit better," Rollins explains.
"Generally 250 milligrams a day [is] what would in America be
recognized as safe to take. A [level of] 300 milligrams is often
Some energy drinks contain over 200
milligrams of caffeine in one bottle. Rollins worries that when people
finish drinking that bottle, they don't realize they've just consumed
close to the daily limit of caffeine. Add to that just a single cup of
coffee – containing between 80 to 120 milligrams of caffeine – and a
person can quickly end up over the recommended limit.
says researchers have found that topping 250 milligrams of caffeine in
a day can lead to health problems, and symptoms such as nervousness,
headaches, increased heart rate, and higher blood pressure. "The more
we take, the more symptoms we might have, depending on the genetics of
the person," she explains. "We might have G.I. [gastro-intestinal]
irritation – that would be the gut, the stomach, the intestines; we
might have diarrhea. If we take too much we might actually move into
depression; insomnia is not uncommon, [nor is] poor concentration."
much caffeine has been found to contribute to changes in heart rhythm.
Rollins says psychiatrists have also found that caffeine can exacerbate
symptoms in people with mental health problems, such as depression,
bipolar disorder, anxiety and sleep problems.
Rollins says the
way to avoid taking in too much caffeine is to know how much caffeine
is in an energy drink, and to drink them in moderation.