Are Energy Drinks Really Safe?

Are Energy Drinks Really Safe?

Energy drinks, which are very popular among young people in Illinois, may not be safe to drink, according to recent research. The combination of caffeine with other stimulants, including guarana extract and taurine, may cause more adverse effects than drinks that only contain caffeine. Habitual consumption of energy drinks can lead to stroke, renal failure, seizures, heart problems, and death.

Risks of Energy Drinks

Researchers from the University of Waterloo surveyed more than 2,000 young people between the ages of 12 and 24 about their energy drink and coffee consumption. Among the respondents, 36 percent reported having experienced side effects from drinking coffee while 55 percent reported having experienced side effects from consuming energy drinks. One-fourth of the people who experienced side effects from drinking energy drinks had tachycardia, and another 25 percent reported difficulty sleeping. Others reported side effects such as nausea, chest pains or seizures. Of the respondents, only 5 percent went to get medical help when they experienced side effects.

Why Do Energy Drinks Cause Side Effects?

Energy drinks may cause more side effects than coffee. In addition to having high concentrations of sugar and caffeine, the drinks also contain other natural stimulants, including taurine or guarana extract. These substances may stimulate other systems in the body and may also enhance the stimulating effects of the caffeine. For instance, taurine can cause injuries such as arrhythmias, which are erratic heartbeats. It can also interfere with the sodium ion channels of cells and enhance the effects of caffeine.

Previous research that was published in the Journal of Pediatrics in 2011 found that consuming drinks that contain high amounts of taurine and caffeine may be linked to diabetes, seizures and heart problems. The companies that make the drinks claim that they are nutritional supplements, which helps them to avoid following regulations that limit the amount of caffeine in sodas. Another study found that the combination of taurine and caffeine in the drinks may have an especially detrimental effect on adolescents’ brains that are still developing. There has been some talk about limiting the sales of energy drinks to minors. However, no laws banning their sales to young people have been passed thus far.