Energy drinks: “Monster”ous health risks

Chris Hardy--Energy drinks provide temporary satisfaction but long term health threats.

You know what the 2:30 p.m. feeling feels like? Sleepy? Groggy? Ready for a nap?”

As a college student sleep and energy are hard to come by, therefore many California Baptist University students resort to popular energy drinks to get them through the day.

“I like energy drinks because they give me a boost and are very tasty”, CBU student Loretta McQueen said.

These drinks are necessities for many college students but not many people take the time to find out what exactly is in these caffeine filled drinks.

The main ingredients in energy drinks are caffeine, guarana and sugar.

Caffeine is a stimulant drug that increases ones mental and physical abilities but not without side effects. According to research conducted by Johns Hopkins University, it is addictive, dehydrating and increases stomach acid productions that can cause ulcers and other gastronomical disorders.

High quantaties of caffeine are in these drinks: Monster has 160 mg of caffeine, Redbull has 80 mg and Rockstar has 160 mg. When comparing these drinks to a Coca-Cola (34 mg) and a cup of coffee (108 mg), they have nearly double the amount caffeine.

Caffeine is such a commonly used drug that its side effects are not taken as seriously as they should be. Along with the effects written above, caffeine can cause high anxiety and severe with drawls for those who use it on a regular basis.

Amy Miller, kinesiology lecturer at CBU said “caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, so excessive amounts of caffeine (250 mg/day) is considered to have intoxicating effect.”

In the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal, Johns Hopkins scientists called for warning labels on energy drinks, because the amount of caffeine comes in a wide range and caf- feine intoxication can result in symptoms such as anxiety, rapid heartbeat and, in a few cases, death.

The two other common ingredients in energy drinks are Guarana and Sugar.

Guarana is a form of caffeine that comes from the guarana plant found in South America. The caffeine comes from the guarana seed and contains twice the amount of caffeine in a coffee bean. According to nutritionist Heidi Skolnick on NBC News, this caffeine is not included in the caffeine count on the ingredients label; so more caffeine is actually consumed than accounted for.

The amount of sugar in these drinks plays a significant factor on their effects on the human body. Sugar is the quickest energy form to be absorbed into the body. However, right after it is absorbed the body produces insulin to decrease one’s blood sugar.

These drinks contain lots of sugar (Rockstar 60g, Monster 54g and Redbull 27g) that provide a quick energy high, followed by a huge sugar crash.

A common misconception is that energy drinks are no different that having a cup of coffee. Although both contain caffeine, the way they are drank is much different.

Coffee is typically served hot and is sipped, while energy drinks taste more similar to soda and are drank at a much faster pace, consuming caffeine at a much higher rate.

According to CBS News the energy drink industry engrossed $ 6 billion dollars in 2008. These drinks are clearly very popular but must be drank with caution, if consumed at all.

These drinks may provide a couple hours of energy a college student needs to get them through the day, they are far from harmless.

“Energy drinks are widely marketed and consumed right now. Since it is considered a supplement it is not regulated by the FDA, so many people are unaware of the effects,” Miller said.

To learn more on the subject CBU offers the class, Contemporary Health Issues, taught by Miller which covers topics on health problems today.