Written by Sadie Wirthlin
Since the rise of energy drinks, health professionals have brought forth concerns in regards to the beverages’ content. At first, it was the high amount of caffeine and sugar, but now other ingredients are being questioned. Energy drink labels can be confusing and individuals that choose to drink them might not have any idea what is being consumed. So, what REALLY is in an energy drink?
As previously stated, energy drinks contain high amounts of caffeine, but some labels neglect to show exactly how much. This caffeine content combined with other substances in the drink leave health specialists very wary. Individually, these substances may be considered safe, but mixing presents safety concerns. Here are some of the main ingredients in energy drinks, along with information about effects of consumption.
Ginseng is an herb that is said to boost immunity and improve health. Most agree that short-term use of this herbal remedy is safe, but combining it with caffeine could increase side effects like increased heart rate. In high doses, ginseng can have side effects of insomnia, headache and hypertension.
This amino acid is found in a variety of protein-filled foods and helps with neurological function. It is said to improve athletic performance, but when combined with caffeine, it could have negative effects on the heart.
Guarana berries, which come from a plant native to the Amazon basin, contain high levels of caffeine. Some claim it is safe, including the FDA, but there is a lack of quality research on the subject. Rockstar, Monster, Bawls and Red Bull all use extract from this berry. One gram of guarana is equal to 40 mg of caffeine, according to healthland.time.com. The problem is that guarana is not always included in the total caffeine tally on an energy drink label, meaning you may be drinking way more caffeine than expected.
4. Ginko biloba
This is another herb said to help increase mental alertness and function. It has been used in medical facilities for those who suffer from conditions such as dementia, anxiety, and schizophrenia. Evidence on the merits of Ginko biloba is lacking and its reactions can depend a lot on what other medications are currently being taken.
Carnitine is something that our bodies natural produce. It turns fat into energy and is said to boost exercise performance. Carnitine can be bought in supplement form, but there is not much data for or against its use. It is said to help with various health problems, but more studies need to be done.
6. Green coffee extract
Many claim green coffee extract to be natural and a great weight loss option. However, others see it as simply another form of caffeine. Just because it is “natural” doesn’t necessarily make it good for you.
Sources: Foxnews.com, livescience.com, healthland.time.com, Pediatrics
In one study, participants drank one 16-ounce can of the energy drink Rockstar, and had higher levels of norepinephrine, which resulted in higher blood pressure and increased cardiovascular risk.