Seunga (Jasmine Han), PharmD Student
Monster Energy, Rockstar Energy Drink, Redbull
These are some of the most common energy drinks in grocery and convenience stores, but we all know that the list goes on. Whether it’s because of school or work, we’ve all had those moments where we’ve needed a little extra energy to get through the day. What do you do to get yourself back to the grind?
While caffeinated tea or coffee may do the trick for some, others may need the extra kick offered by energy drinks to get through the day. But have you ever thought about their safety? Energy drinks are so common that you may not have thought twice before picking up a can. Today, we’ll take a look at the safety regarding their consumption.
What’s in it?
First, let’s take a look at some of the main ingredients commonly found in energy drinks. These include:
- Vitamin B complex and Vitamin C
- Herbal products, such as gingko and ginseng
After looking at this list, you may think that energy drinks are mostly harmless. However, this view may change once you look at the recommendations regarding daily caffeine intake.
How much caffeine is too much?
Health Canada’s recommendation for the maximum daily caffeine intake is as follows:
If the individual is between the ages of 4-6 years, they shouldn’t consume more than 45mg of caffeine. Those between ages of 7-9 shouldn’t consume more than 62.5mg, while those between 10-12 shouldn’t have more than 85mg daily.
For adolescents, the recommendations are based on weight, and these individuals should have less than 2.5mg/kg in a day.
For adults, 400mg is the maximum recommended daily intake, while pregnant or breastfeeding women shouldn’t have more than 300mg in a day.
So, why does this matter?
Energy drinks, on average, contain about 150-300mg of caffeine per drink. While this may be safe for the general, healthy, adult population, it’s not quite the case for children and adolescents.
What are the concerns?
In adults, excessive caffeine intake could lead to insomnia, headaches, irritability and nervousness.
In children and adolescents, the effects of caffeine may be greater. Excessive caffeine intake from energy drinks could cause disturbances in their sleeping patterns, which can impair their normal growth. Additionally, the high sugar content of energy drinks can also contribute to obesity and dental cavities. Furthermore, due to the marketing tactics of energy drink companies, some youth may believe that energy drinks may enhance their athletic performance. This is concerning since energy drinks can lead to dehydration due to caffeine’s diuretic effect.
What’s the bottom line?
The bottom line is that energy drinks are generally considered safe for consumption in moderate amounts in the healthy, adult population. However, their growing use and popularity among children and adolescents is concerning due to the possibility for negative impacts on their health, including impaired growth and an increased risk of obesity and dental cavities.
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