There sure are a lot of energy drinks out there now days. I went to the store recently and counted 17 different energy drinks. And this is most likely only of fraction of the entire number of energy drinks on the market today.
And just the sound of the names of these energy drinks is enough to wake up the most lethargic person: Venom, Amp, Red Bull, Full Throttle, Rush, Shark, Piranha, Fuse, Hype, Rear Mamba, and Atomic X, just to mention a few.
There also seems to be lots of controversy these days about Possum Removal Cost the health effects of energy drinks.
So, out of curiosity I recently did a little research on the ingredients within these energy drinks and their health effects.
The ingredients within the different brands of energy drinks are many. The ingredients common to most energy drinks are taurine, glucuronolactone, inositol, B vitamins, caffeine, sugar, carbonated water, natural flavors, and organic ingredients.
Taurine is a derivative of this sulfer-containing amino acid cysteine. Taurine is often found in infant milk formulas. This helps generate nerve impulses. Additionally it is an antioxidant and is considered to steady irregular heartbeats.
Glucuronolactone is a naturally occurring carbohydrate created by the human metabolic system. It’s believed to improve memory and concentration. It can have stimulant and anti-depressant effects.
Inositol is instrumental in how the brain uses serotonin, a chemical that’s the exact same that is fostered by the anti-depressant drugs prozac and zoloft.
B vitamins are essential for a variety of things. Vitamin B-3 (niacin) metabolizes energy from carbohydrates and fat and will help the body utilize energy by releasing it from food. Vitamin B-5 (pantothenic acid) improves mood and boosts energy. Vitamin B-12 also helps in the formation of red blood cells and helps break down sugar stored in the body to use as energy.
The sum of these natural ingredients varies among energy drinks, and is typically a proprietary blend.
One can do a Ph.D. dissertation on the ingredients in energy drinks. Because of time constraints, this article focuses on the ingredients that receive the most attention regarding health effects: sugar and caffeine.
Caffeine is found in many products (coffee, soda, chocolate, etc.) including energy drinks.
Caffeine doesn’t provide true energy. It injects adrenaline into your system, which provides you a temporary boost but leads to a feeling of fatigue after it wears off.
Cortisol is great when needed, but may have damaging effects if high pressure is always present. Some of these damaging effects include a suppressed immune system, impaired cognitive performance, high blood pressure, and a decrease in bone density and muscle tissue. Increased levels of cortisol lead to stronger cravings for fat and carbohydrates.
Caffeine also increases the body’s level of dopamine, which acts similar to an amphetamine. As with adrenaline, it makes you feel good after it gets into your system. However, like adrenaline, after dopamine wears off, feelings of having low power and even mild depression take over.
As is well known, caffeine inhibits the adsorption of adenosine, which is necessary for sleep.
Caffeine does have some positive aspects. A small amount at the start of the day can supply you with good concentration and attention. A small amount before exercise can actually enhance physical performance and endurance. It can help the body break down fat about 30 percent more efficiently if taken before exercise.
The normal energy drink contains approximately 80 milligrams of caffeine per 8.4 ounce. The average cup of black coffee also contains 80 mg of caffeine.
When sucrose is taken into the body, it is broken down into equal amounts of glucose and fructose.
Insulin from the pancreas allows the body to burn glucose to produce energy.
If there’s too much glucose in the bloodstream for the body to use as energy, then it’s converted to glycogen and placed in temporary storage. If the temporary storage capacity is exceeded, the rest of the glucose will be converted into long term storage (fat).
Fructose is broken down by the body SLOWLY into glycogen, which can be put into storage in the liver and muscles. When glucose levels get low in the blood, the liver can readily convert the stored glycogen into glucose. Insulin is then needed to burn the sugar. The requirement for insulin when it’s required to burn glucose is reasonable.
Conversely, a huge dose of sucrose supplied by candy, soda pop, or cake, puts a significant strain on the pancreas, particularly on an empty stomach. The pancreas has to supply a whole lot of insulin FAST to stabilize the blood sugar level brought on by the cake or candy.
If the pancreas does not offer enough insulin to manage a large influx of sucrose, a diabetic condition exists. If the pancreas provides too much insulin, a hypoglycemic conditions exists. Blood sugar levels either too high or too low may cause serious problems.
Fructose obtained by fruit is beneficial for diabetics because it doesn’t place a huge demand on the pancreas for insulin in a small amount of time. The pancreas can handle the insulin requirements imposed by fructose being converted SLOWLY into glycogen subsequently sugar.
But, fructose does have a down side to it.
Excess fructose that cannot be used by the body is easily converted into fat. Many experts think that fructose is the main cause of Americans getting fatter. Fructose in concentrated forms (e.g. high fructose corn syrup) is especially bad. Excess fructose may also raise the level of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).
Energy drinks have indeed created quite a stir, especially regarding health effects. A few countries (Denmark, Malaysia, and France) have prohibited the sale of Red Bull because of high caffeine levels. I wonder what the caffeine content is at the coffee sold in those countries.
As far as producing energy, energy drinks do provide at least some energy because they have sugar and other energy producing ingredients. The “kick ” for which these drinks are famous comes not from the energy, but from the big doses of caffeine provided by consuming none, but multiple energy drinks in a short time period. You would get the same kick drinking 4 or 5 cups of coffee.
Too much caffeine and too much sugar consumed day after day over a long time period will increase the odds of some terrible health effects. Common sense.
Too much caffeine increases the likelihood of dependence, which will create the stress hormone cortisol to be always present in your body. Too much cortisol leads to increased chances for a suppressed immune system, higher blood pressure, and less bone mass.
Too much processed sugar day after day and year after year will place a large strain on your pancreas, which may increases your odds of getting diabetes. Your chances of getting fat will also be much greater.
I do not think energy drinks are harmful unless you just plain drink too many. I would suggest using them sparingly.
I like energy drinks. I am also concerned about good health. It seems the older I get, the more I care about good health.
Therefore, I am a little more selective these days in regards to energy drinks. I now look for energy drinks that have minimum refined sugar. I look for one that tastes good and provides real long-lasting energy, the sort of energy that helps me focus and stay focused. I don’t want a “kick” provided by stimulants.
I’ve found an energy drink in particular that meets the above criteria. It’s made of all natural ingredients, one of which is the acai berry. It also contains other antioxidant-rich fruits, which also offer the sugar. This energy drink is also lightly carbonated.