The Effects of Energy Drinks on Your Body

March 4, 2016
On top of causing addiction, the effects of energy drinks include an increased heart rate. Just one can contains the same amount of caffeine as six cups of tea.

Energy drinks have become really popular in the past two decades and the effects on your health are under study. People often consume them while they work, study, or even when they go out. At bars and parties, people even mix energy drinks with alcohol so they won’t get tired. But what are the effects of energy drinks on your body?

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RedBull is perhaps the most famous and is consumed around the world. It helps stimulate the brain for those who intensely exert themselves physically or experience stressful situations.

With their motto “RedBull gives you wings”, the company has convinced millions of consumers around the world that their drink is a way to recharge.

Whether it’s the result of long days at work or studying for an exam, RedBull promises to refuel you.

The drink effectively works to prolong energy when the body needs it. However, in recent years, scientific studies have shown that just one can cause changes in the functions of the body.

Drinking energy drinks daily can lead to the development of various cardiovascular problems.

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Effects of Energy Drinks on Your Health

Cardiac health image of heart in chest xray effects of energy drinks

Energy drinks are soft drinks that combine substances like caffeine, amino acids (like taurine), carbohydrates (like glucuronolactone, a derivative of glucose), vitamins, and in some cases, medicinal plant extracts, like ginseng or guarana.

Just one can of these drinks contains elevated quantities of caffeine, equivalent to 4 cups of coffee, two espressos, 4 cans of cola or 6 cups of tea: approximately 300 mg.

A healthy individual should ingest between 100 and 300 mg of caffeine a day, up to a maximum of 400 mg. Experts agree that this dosage may not present a health risk as long as it’s not combined with other substances like alcohol.

In fact, consuming an excess of energy drinks or combining them with alcohol can cause dangerous side effects including:

  • Tachycardia
  • Heart palpitations or high blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Nervousness
  • Lack of motor coordination

In addition, one of the real dangers lies in combining caffeine with other substances which can be really dangerous. For example, RedBull sometimes contains aspartame, a known carcinogenic.

Also, these drinks tend to be addictive, leading the consumer to feel unsatisfied with just one can and want to drink more to satisfy their cravings.

A Ban on Energy Drinks in Certain Countries

An estimated 3.5 million cans of RedBull have been distributed in 143 countries around the world.

However, RedBull and other energy drinks have been banned in some places. Evidence that confirms the negative health effects of these beverages has worried the authorities of different countries. Today, energy drinks are prohibited in Norway, Denmark, and Uruguay.

In Kuwait, energy drinks became prohibited for minors under the age of 16 after two members of the national squash team died of heart attacks after consuming these drinks.

Dangers and Effects of Energy Drinks

Glass of cola caffeine with ice effects of energy drinks on your health

The risks associated with energy drinks increase when consumed in excess or combined with other substances like alcohol.

Further study is needed to determine just how dangerous these drinks are, but consumers should consider these warnings about the possible effects of energy drinks:

  • Don’t consume energy drinks after intense physical exercise as their energizing properties increase the heart rate and can cause a massive heart attack.
  • In fact, energy drinks do not hydrate you. The diuretic effect of the caffeine actually increases the risk of dehydration in these cases.
  • Due to the high content of compounds that thin the blood, excessive consumption can cause cerebral hemorrhage. This is because the heart works less to pump the blood, but increases the force and therefore your blood pressure goes up.
  • Mixing RedBull and other energy drinks with alcohol can be lethal because it directly attacks the liver.
  • Drinking a can a day increases your risk of developing irreversible nervous disorders.
  • Finally, those who are pregnant, have cardiovascular problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, sensitivity to caffeine and clotting disorders should avoid them completely.
  • Anton, S. D., Martin, C. K., Han, H., Coulon, S., Cefalu, W. T., Geiselman, P., & Williamson, D. A. (2010). Effects of stevia, aspartame, and sucrose on food intake, satiety, and postprandial glucose and insulin levels. Appetite.
  • Attila, S., & Çakir, B. (2011). Energy-drink consumption in college students and associated factors. Nutrition.
  • Gunja, N., & Brown, J. A. (2012). Energy drinks: Health risks and toxicity. Medical Journal of Australia.
  • Reissig, C. J., Strain, E. C., & Griffiths, R. R. (2009). Caffeinated energy drinks-A growing problem. Drug and Alcohol Dependence.