Indulging in a tasty drink that delivers an increase in cognitive alertness, energy, and physical performance sounds pretty tempting to those who need an extra pick-me-up.
But while knocking back an energy drink can help you get through those tough mid-afternoon slumps, drinking them can cause some pretty uninviting secondary effects. Here’s why you should be aware of the side effects of energy drinks.
Common Side Effects Of Energy Drinks
As the name indicates, energy drinks are refreshments that are formulated to give you more increased energy. Made with ingredients like taurine, guarana, and sugar, these handy concoctions are packed full of stimulants that are known to promote factors like mental focus and energy levels.
Below are five of the most commonly used ingredients in energy drinks:
Energy drinks can have an inordinate amount of caffeine—ranging from 50 to 500 milligrams per serving. As a form of comparison, a standard cup of coffee contains roughly 100 mg of caffeine, a cup of tea contains 30 mg, and a can of conventional soda contains approximately 34 mg.
Furthermore, caffeine is also the main culprit for a whole list of health issues including digestive problems, fatigue, annoyance, nausea, dehydration, and headaches.
Drinking two or more energy beverages per day is comparable to ingesting the same amount of caffeine via 12 cans of soda, like Coke or Pepsi.
Some energy drinks can contain a staggering 62 grams of sugar, which is the equivalent of 15 1/2 teaspoons per 16 ounces can. For comparison’s sake, 250 calories per energy drink are approximately the same amount as a 20-ounce bottle of soda.
Besides, most people probably already know that too much sugar can lead to weight increase, tooth erosion, inflammation, and type 2 diabetes, which is a gateway to other chronic health issues.
Furthermore, artificial sweeteners which are now commonly used as sugar replacements in “light” or “diet” versions of energy drinks have been linked to metabolic disorders, obesity, and diabetes.
This popular extract originates from the seeds of the South American guarana plant. It’s commonly used as a key ingredient in energy drinks because it can deliver twice the amount of caffeine than a coffee per weight. The commercial claims that this extract stimulates weight loss and supports fatigue are scientifically unproven, at best.
Currently, there isn’t much research on the side effects of energy drinks that contain guarana. Nevertheless, when used in beverages, it’s been reported to cause high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue, insomnia, dehydration, and even kidney failure.
This amino acid supposedly enhances endurance and increases fat burning. But, since we only need to supplement with extra carnitine if we’re deficient, which is uncommon, its dietary addition in the form of energy drinks is pretty useless.
A mere 3 grams per day is considered to be safe; higher amounts can lead to digestive problems and in some cases, seizures.
The common use of this understudied ingredient truly highlights the dangers of energy drinks and the risk they can pose to individuals’ health.
There are so many potential dangers of energy drinks that people are unaware of. Some popular energy drinks contain taurine as an ingredient.
Taurine is an amino acid that may promote neurological development and regulates the quantity of trace minerals and water in the bloodstream. However, too much taurine, especially when ingested in combination with other energy drink ingredients, can be harmful.
More research is needed surrounding prolonged consumption and the long-term negative effects of energy drinks containing taurine. Nevertheless, excessive taurine has been shown to cause dangerously low blood pressure dips and fluctuations.
Energy Drinks And Mental Health Risk Factors
While several of the ingredients found in energy drinks are considered natural and may appear like a healthy choice, you might be unsuspecting about the dangers of energy drinks and include them in your daily routine.
Knocking back an energy drink can result in unpleasant side effects that can easily be avoided by opting for an alternate and more healthy way to promote energy levels; such as, making sure you’re getting 7-8 hours of sleep or adding regular exercise into your day.
Another important factor to note is that most individuals normally don’t stop at one energy drink per day. Research suggests that up to 50% of adolescents and adults consume energy drinks. Yet, they don’t recognize to what degree these sugary drinks can harm their mental health.
Let’s take a look at the three most prominent negative effects of energy drinks on mental health:
The principal ingredient in energy drinks that presents the desired caffeine fix is Guarana. This extract comprises high levels of caffeine and serves to stimulate the muscles, nervous system, and heart. However, a commonly known and studied side effect of Guarana is increased anxiety.
The journal of Depression and Anxiety performed a study to better understand the connections between energy drinks and mental health problems. And, after polling over a thousand 20-year-olds, researchers found that those who consumed one or more energy drinks daily reported higher rates of routine anxiety.
Moreover, the participants who decided to use an energy drink as a focus and study booster were found to already be under pressure and extremely anxious. This suggests that by consuming anxiety-inducing beverages, participants were in actuality doing more harm than good.
2. Drug and substance abuse
Not only can energy drinks enhance risk factors for mental health problems such as depression and anxiety, but these popular drinks can further be linked to teenager’s acceptance of drug and substance abuse.
Data collated from 2010-2018 found that more than 50% of teens who consumed multiple energy drinks throughout the day were not opposed to regular or even frequent drug usage. Also, the data suggested that most individuals didn’t regard hard drugs as dangerous behavior. These dangers of energy drinks are serious and quite frankly, concerning.
Furthermore, in a 2011 report issued by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, it was reported that the quantity of energy drink-related trips to emergency rooms in the United States doubled, soaring from 10,068 to 20,783 cases. As an example, in 2011 alone, 1 in every 10 of these emergency visits ended in hospitalization.
The study documented that there were more patients aged 18-39 than any other demographic, yet the most extensive increase was in individuals aged 40 or above. The most commonly reported mood-related side effects of energy drinks included depression, fatigue, anxiety, hallucinations, and mania.
3. Mood and sleep pattern alterations
This is one of the most common negative effects of energy drinks. A study which was published in the Frontiers in Public Health journal showcased that along with the commonly recognized health issues related to energy drinks – insomnia and obesity – these beverages may enhance the likelihood of kidney damage, diabetes, and most importantly, mental health problems.
The study ascertained that the high levels of caffeine found in energy drinks could indicate that individuals are consuming quantities that are over the recommended safety limit.
Moreover, according to a separate Korean study, consuming over-the-limit amounts of caffeine can upset your mood as well as sleep patterns – both of which are manifestations of depression and elevated stress.
Final Message: Everything In Moderation
In a time when society as a whole is increasingly becoming more mindful of their health and wellbeing, energy drinks that are high in caffeine and sugar shouldn’t be entering into the equation. Nevertheless, like everything in life – moderation is key if you wish to stay away from negative effects of energy drinks.
Consuming an energy drink occasionally is unlikely to create any long-term side effects. However, you should be fully aware of the dangers of energy drinks so that you do not end up making it a routine.
Although, this could be a catalyst for enhanced levels of immediate anxiety. Nevertheless, if you’re concerned about how energy drinks may be impacting your mental health, perhaps it’s worth reducing your routine consumption to see what influence that has.