Have you noticed the new epidemic drug on campus that has helped millions of college students like myself get thru the day? Being a full-time employee and a part-time college student at times can be difficult, And to continue outputting the same amount focus and energy constantly on a daily basis becomes increasingly difficult to maintain. For us college students Energy drinks have become the new must have supplemental drug used to stay focus in class, combat daytime sleepiness or help us get through those long studying nights before finals. Additionally, the reason for energy drinks popularity within college students it is because they are marketed as a healthy alternative as noted by Elitok, Ali, et al. “After multivitamins, energy drinks (EDs) are the most popular dietary supplements in the young adult population (1). EDs constitute a category of sugary drinks that contain variable amounts of caffeine, taurine, glucuronolactone, and other ingredients that may include vitamins and minerals” which sounds like a added benefit for the active college student on the go. I was surprised to discover that the energy drink business is a growing industry that shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, based on the a study conducted by Janet, et al. “Energy drink sales account for a large part of the $7 billion US sports, energy, and weight loss supplement industry, with the global energy drink market expected to reach $52 billion by 2016.” (Janet, pg 1175) Our love for energy drinks is growing industry that is producing billions of dollar for major corporations. However, over the years the news media has linked several health risks and even death with to consumption of energy drinks. Although Energy drinks corporation have maintained a long stance that their products have not been the cause of related death and promote their products as all natural drinks that “Vitalizes Body and Mind®”. The amounts B vitamins, Taurine and Guarana have been questioned if they are safe for consumption. If more students like myself were to recognize the potential health risk of consuming these ingredients on a constant basis can lead to unwanted physical health risk we would think twice before consuming another energy drink again and look for an alternative option.
Energy drink companies argue that their products contain all-natural essential vitamins that can boost your energy and enhance your focus. Energy drink companies extensively promote the effects of B vitamins as the pure alternative contained in their drinks. Although B vitamins by themselves have been considered beneficial as noted by Environmental Nutrition “B vitamins are needed for the metabolic processes that convert carbohydrates, proteins and fat in the food you eat into energy the body can use.” (Environmental Nutrition) By face value, B vitamins do sound like a beneficial ingredient that not only provides that extra boost of energy but also helps you efficiently convert any additional food consumed into additional extra energy your body can efficiently use. But the truth behind consuming these B vitamins may be overstretched and the heavy consumption of B vitamins may not be as beneficial as we believe as reported by Environmental Nutrition “vitamins don’t provide the quick pick-me-up these products promise, nor any energy by themselves. Most of the energy drinks that boast the power of Bs actually contain other stimulants” and additionally adds ” The amounts found in most energy drinks are far more than what the body needs or could even be beneficial. For example, some drinks provide more than 8,000% of the Daily Value for B12 and 2,000% for B6. Because B vitamins are water-soluble and aren’t stored, what the body can’t use is simply flushed out, quite literally. The one exception is vitamin B6. The Institute of Medicine warns that more than 100 milligrams a day can cause nerve damage in arms and legs. The damage is reversible once B6 is stopped, but it’s inadvisable to take such amounts.” Based on Environmental Nutrition report the exaggerated amounts of B vitamin included in energy drinks do not provide any additional benefit and most of the extra B vitamins consumed are simply flushed out by our bodies. However what is alarming is that consuming excess amounts of vitamin B6 can cause nerve damage to your arms and legs. Most college students like myself would never consider that any type of vitamins would provoke any type of bodily damage. And considering the vast amounts of B vitamins included in each energy drinks any college student can easily consume extra ounces of energy drinks on any given day and exceed the advisable amounts of B6 vitamin that could cause damage to a college students limbs. If it’s needles to consume high doses of B6 vitamins in energy drinks. Energy drink companies should reduce the amounts of B6 vitamins included in their drinks to the reduce to probability college students to consume excessive amounts of B6 vitamins and prevent any type of bodily harm.
Additionally, energy drink companies advertise the health benefits of Taurine in their products. Taurine is a natural amino acid is found in meat and fish and is an essential building block of protein. Research seem to suggest there are numerous upside in intaking Taurines as written by Kotova, et al. “important component of tonic (energy) beverages is taurine, which helps to normalize the function of cell membranes, the optimization of energy and metabolic processes, maintain constant electrolytic composition of the cytoplasm of cells, inhibition of synaptic transmission. Taurine at high doses (greater than 1 g) has a suppressive effect on brains” (Kotova, et al.). The ingredient Taurine by itself helps promote better energy usage. And if 1 g of Taurine is consumed the side effect is it repress the effect in your brain. It is Taurine side effect that energy companies advertise their products provide that claim their product provide you with focus and clarity. However also noted by Kotova et al. Additionally adds “Prolonged daily use of aqueous solutions of caffeine with taurine in amounts, corresponding to those in the use of tonic (energy) beverages, carries a risk of structural and functional disorders of organs and tissues due to damage of the cell membrane mediated by excessive stimulation of energy metabolism and metabolism with a predominance of catabolic processes. Based on Kotova et al. Research clarifies that excessive consumption of taurine along with the active ingredient caffeine produces damage to cell membranes due to the enormous stimulation of energy produced by the taurine consumed in energy drinks. Producer of energy drinks should consider labeling the health risk with consuming excessive amounts of taurine in their drinks. That necessary information would aid college students to make smarter decisions in reducing or quitting their consumption of energy drinks.
Lastly, the most popular ingredients in the energy concoction is guarana. Guarana is considered the main ingredient in energy drinks because it is where the caffeine comes from. Although Guarana is a natural product that produces caffeine there are certain risk with using this ingredient as described by Moustakas, Dimitrios, et al. “The main component of guarana attributed to these beneficial properties is caffeine, which, depending on how the extract is prepared, can be more than four times the amount found in coffee beans [19, 29]. In addition, other components of guarana seeds are also thought to provide extra stimulant effects above those of caffeine alone” In retrospect Moustakas, Dimitrios, et al. Imply that guarana can provide inconsistent amount of caffeine, and depending how guarana is extracted the strength of the caffeine can be four times more potent than coffee bean alone. In addition, guarana seeds may also produce additional stimulants. The inconsistency of guarana alone can make it dangerous to consume. Although guarana does give you that extra caffeinated jolt most of us college students are looking for. Guarana caffeine along with their other additives can deliver other unwanted side effects as described by Basit “However Energy drinks contain excessive amounts of Sugars and Caffeine in order to produce to energy jolt effect that young adult consumer has come to rely on. But the extra boost of energy may come with unwanted long term side effects as revealed by Basit “Energy drinks‟ are fortified beverages with added dietary supplements which are different from soft drinks. They contain higher levels of caffeine in addition to sugars and other dietary supplements”. Basit also Adds “Some of the known adverse events related to the consumption of Energy Drinks include increase in the Heart Rate and Blood Pressure, adverse effects on arterial stiffness, myocardial infarction, overweight and obesity, increase in the risk of diabetes and cardio metabolic diseases, hypokalemia, renal impairment and dental erosions. They have concluded that Energy Drinks & its ingredients are potentially dangerous to many aspects of health.” (Basit) Many of these additional unwanted side effects are something most college students do not consider when consuming energy drinks. Adding a warning label on energy drinks would be beneficial to the average college student in determining if the risk outweighs the benefits.
I believe energy drinks have their uses and do provide some added benefits. Especially for example when a little pick me up is needed in order to muddle through class, finishing your homework late at night or power through the last days leading up to finals. However, college students like myself can easily overuse these energy drinks products excessively at times where it becomes a vicious cycle that we continue consuming more and more in order us keep with our daily life demands. Since energy drinks are marketed products that contain natural ingredients college most college students can be naive by the fact consuming to excessive amounts ingredients like B vitamins at times is useless because our bodies flush out the excess amount. However, in taking to many B6 vitamins can lead to nerve damage on your arms and legs. The over consumption of Taurine can lead risk of cell membrane over stimulation that leads to organ structural damage. And the use of guarana and the potential volatile amounts of caffeine inside may lead to the overconsumption of caffeine. Additionally, the use of guarana along with the additional additives added in the energy drink can lead to unforeseen health risk not included in the health risk of energy drinks. A solution would be to add an additional warning label on energy drink cans and bottle specifying the additional health risk with consuming their products. This type of action was previously sought after by California lawmaker notes by Sifferlin “This is the second time Monning has tried to get safety labels on sugary drinks. In 2014, a similar bill passed the state Senate, but failed to pass the Assembly. But given the fact that about 14% of Californians have diabetes (a number that tripled in the last 30 years), Monning is trying again. If the new bill passes, labeling would be required after a six-month grace period after the law is enacted.” However, the bill was unsuccessful. If this law were to pass I believe that it would benefit many college students to make a more educated decision before going to reach for that next energy drink.
Thorlton, Janet, et al. “Proposed Actions for the US Food and Drug Administration to Implement to Minimize Adverse Effects Associated with Energy Drink Consumption.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 104, no. 7, July 2014, pp. 1175-1180. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2105/AJPH.2014.301967.
“B Vitamin-Laced Drinks Not Likely to Be Beneficial for an Energy Boost.” Environmental Nutrition, vol. 32, no. 4, Apr. 2009, p. 7. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=37217150&site=ehost-live.
Elitok, Ali, et al. “Acute Effects of Red Bull Energy Drink on Ventricular Repolarization in Healthy Young Volunteers: A Prospective Study.” Anatolian Journal of Cardiology / Anadolu Kardiyoloji Dergisi, vol. 15, no. 11, Nov. 2015, pp. 919-922. EBSCOhost, doi:10.5152/akd.2015.5791.
Kotova, T. V., et al. “Safety Tonic (Energy) Beverages.” Foods & Raw Materials, vol. 3, no. 1, Jan. 2015, pp. 97-103. EBSCOhost, doi:10.12737/11243.
Moustakas, Dimitrios, et al. “Guarana Provides Additional Stimulation over Caffeine Alone in the Planarian Model.” Plos ONE, vol. 10, no. 4, Apr. 2015, pp. 1-17. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0123310.
Basit, Abdul “Children, Adolescents and Parents Need to Be Educated Regarding Potential Hazards of Consuming Energy Drinks. (Cover Story).” Pulse International, vol. 15, no. 18, 30 Sept. 2014, p. 1. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=98498699&site=ehost-live.
Sifferlin, Alexandra. “California Lawmaker Calls for Warning Labels on Sugary Drinks.” Time.Com, 12 Feb. 2015. EBSCOhost, chaffey.idm.oclc.org/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=100947728&site=ehost-live.