Do Energy Drinks Do More Than Give You Wings?

Posted: July 16, 2010 by Adrian Sanders in Rants and Raves
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

There is a phenomenon that has been sweeping the nation in growing numbers during recent years. Take a stroll down the aisles of your local grocery store and you will see the ever expanding market of energy drinks. From the drink aisle to the checkout counter, extensive marketing campaigns allow these companies to make sure you know about their products in hopes of you filling your cart with their products. But it may be more than the cart you are filling. In addition to filling corporate America’s wallet with more padding, you could also be filling your body with an overload of nutrients and other ingredients that can put unnecessary strain on your body’s cardiovascular system and other functions.

I for one have never been a huge supporter of these drinks. Like most people, I have tried a few of them including one that is supposed to “give you wings”. Personally, I didn’t see any noticeable difference in my energy levels. Not to mention the taste left much to be desired. However, I know people that can chug these things a six-pack at a time. While the makers of this drink insist that the ingredients in these drinks are harmless, I can’t help but think that too much of anything can be bad for your body. For instance, one ingredient is taurine; an amino acid found naturally in the body in very small amounts. While I understand it is a naturally occurring substance, there has to be a limit of what your body can process in a days time. Many of these drinks contain more than 1000 mg per serving. The average healthy diet gives an adult less than 400 mg per day. So if you have two of these drinks per day, you are receiving somewhere around 300% more taurine than a normal person just eating a healthy diet. While it may not be an immediate poison to your body, this puts unnecessary strain on your body to process this and find a way to get it out of your system. Studies have also indicated that high levels of taurine combined with other ingredients in energy drinks can have potentially harmful effects. The ingredients in one serving have been shown to affect the lining of blood vessels causing your blood to flow at a higher rate thus increasing your blood pressure and temporarily raising your risk for heart disease to the level of a person that has already been diagnosed with coronary artery disease. I can only imagine what risks a person would be at after consuming several of these drinks within a few hours.

Another energy drink growing in popularity is the smaller one ounce “energy shots”. After reviewing the nutrition label of one of the most popular brands, it reveals that this tiny little drink has vitamin B levels in excess of 8,000% the amount recommended by the FDA. While vitamin B is widely known as the energy vitamin, it has been shown that too much can cause nerve damage to your arms and legs. So if athletes are using this for energy, they obviously don’t realize that they could be doing more harm than good.

I know we live in a “right now” world. We want everything right now! If we are feeling sluggish, why not just chug a miracle drink and soon feel better? I totally understand the concept behind these products, its just that over time these drinks are bound to be harmful to our bodies. It’s just one of those things where we used to live without these products all these years before, but now there are millions who think they can’t live without them. I truly believe its an addiction, maybe even the placebo effect where people make themselves think these “miracle drinks” keep them going. I know people that just have to have these drinks every day and every time I see them, they are sipping on one. Personally, I don’t see the benefit. Constantly overloading your body with an excess of vitamins and other ingredients will over time harm your health. All of this for just a few hours of energy. I’m sure that drinking these in moderation can’t hurt but making them a part of your daily routine can and most likely will lead to health concerns. I say when it comes to keeping energy levels up, you can’t argue with the tried and true methods of good ole mother nature. To the best of my knowledge, eating properly, getting good quality sleep and taking a multi-vitamin never hurt anybody.

  1. Rick says:

    I will agree that “energy drinks” are not good for anyone; the amount of sugars and caffeine found in them is almost injurious. However, taurine has been advised and used in the range of 1-3 grams daily (1000mg-3000mg) for therapeutic relief. (Source: Dr. Atkins book “Dr. Atkins Vita-Nutrient Solution”) If you also follow the good advice of drinking plenty of water (not tea, coffee or soda) it should buffer any adverse affect on your kidneys and help flush out excess. The healthy human body has a great system in place for disposing of excess nutrients…it’s called urination. Same goes for B vitamins; very water soluble so any high concentration you take (in excess) comes out in flourescent yellow urine. As far as 8000% of the U.S. RDA of B….the FDA purposely sets those limits very low….yes, once again, because of morons.
    The book I cited above is a great source of information on supplements. I have my dog-eared copy and periodically make gifts of new copies to people who could use the advice. Check it out from the library and take a gander.
    I am a walking example of B vitamin therapy; I used to suffer from chronic muscle pain and sinusitus. I was on the verge of being diagnosed with the indecipherable malady known as “Persian Gulf Syndrome”. I had gotten in the habit of drinking “No Fear” energy drinks and noticed my symptoms were fading. I checked the ingredients, started taking a B-complex and stopped drinking the sugary substitute. Today, 11 years later I can say that I am pain free and moving like a man 10 years younger!
    I’m not a doctor (and I don’t believe in todays book-smart no common sense physicians) but I am a believer in supplements and natural health. Don’t just listen to me…really, don’t listen to me. Do your own research and bring yourself back to health!
    CAVEAT: Standardized multi-vitamins are not the same for everyone and individual supplementation should be done slowly and carefully. It took me years to figure out my ideal supplementation and implement it, along with a good diet and trying to sleep properly.

    • brilliantmindbrokenbody says:

      Um, except that overdosing in B-6 can cause permanent nerve damage.

      Most of the B-vitamins cause relatively temporary problems like blood pressure change (up or down, depending on which one and for how long), diarrhea, fainting, vomiting, so on. But not B-6.


      • Hey thats what its here for, feel free to discuss all you want.

        Even changes in blood pressure should be avoided if possible. Its kind of like a diabetic eating half a chocolate cake and shooting up on insulin. Yes it can be fixed and the sugar spike is temporary, but its still not healthy. Thats why I agree with Rick that eventually you can figure out whats best for your body and how much you should take to stay healthy

  2. Adrian says:

    You bring up a very valid point. With enough water, your body can excrete pretty much anything you throw to it. Unfortunately, most people who are addicted to these things dont drink water along with it. If you read warnings about these drinks, it specifically says to drink plenty of water because the ingredients tend to promote dehydration. Im a firm believer in vitamins and supplements too and I do believe you can tolerate more than FDA suggests, but constant overload without proper hydration is a recipe for disaster. These things wont happen all at once so something tells me one day there is gonna be an epidemic of health problems that can be traced back to such things as peoples addiction to energy drinks. I dont claim to be the poster child of health and I like most people have some unhealthy tendencies, but now I realize I should have taken better care of my body early on (and Im only 28).

  3. Rick says:

    ” These things wont happen all at once so something tells me one day there is gonna be an epidemic of health problems that can be traced back to such things as peoples addiction to energy drinks.” And there won’t be enough kidney replacements to go around! I wish I could post the Camelbak logo “Hydrate or Die”! Rick

  4. Marla says:

    I’m twenty one years old and my mom will kick my butt if she sees me drinking an energy drink. She once read that they were bad for your heart. Now, I don’t know if that’s true, but I don’t drink them. Mostly because they taste so bad.

    I agree with your post though. Too much of anything, ever natural stuff, can be harmful. Skip the energy drinks and take a nap.

    Marla @

  5. I completely agree. It is even more worrisome to note that these products are consumed by teenagers, causing not only potential harm to their bodies but also creating an addictive pattern. It encourages “instant gratification” like most everything else in society these days.

  6. Rick says:

    Kali, you’re right. At one time the recommendation was not to exceed 200mg of B6 daily because it caused nerve damage if taken for any amount of time. I’m not sure what the common recommended dosage is now but the highest B-complex I usually see is with 100mg of B6. The U.S. RDA is 2mg a day, way low. I just know what works for me. Adrian, I think I’m done hijacking your thread now!

  7. I don’t drink them–because of what’s in them and the one time I tried one, it tasted gross.

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