I find myself as a former high school athlete, and college student with a huge workload, reliant on energy drinks. My favorite out of the many comprise of Monster Energy Drinks, Mountain Dew Kickstart, and 5-Hour Energy. As of right now, I am writing this blog on the “Energizing Orange Citrus” flavor of Mountain Dew Kickstart, breezing through words as my fingers steadily work the keyboard. But there is so much controversy over the use and dangers of energy drinks, but I always wondered what could possibly be wrong, besides the common known effects/dangers of high sugar intake?
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What are the ingredients of energy drinks that distinguish themselves as “energy drinks?”
Energy drinks distinguish themselves, as they use ingredients that make them stimulants, which increases activity within the body’s nervous system.
The most popular ingredient of them all is CAFFEINE. This is found in almost anything that says it will give you energy, as it is in your morning coffee and tea that tend to wake you up for your day, as it stimulates the central nervous system, making one quick on their feet and jittery.
The next ingredient is TAURINE. It increases energy levels by assisting muscle contractions within the exercises and activity one is completing and regulating the heartbeat for a fluent blood flow. But it is an amino acid, one that is naturally supplied by our body.
The following ingredient is GUARANA. It is similar to caffeine, with some additional molecules that effect physiological system our bodies have, increasing one’s attentiveness to a situation.
Widely known B-VITAMINS comprise energy drinks, whether it be your 100% daily value, to 5000% of your daily value. These help convert the calories taken in from eating into energy to perform tasks.
L-CARNITINE is another amino acid used in energy drinks. It is used to boost metabolism, which indirectly helps one’s stamina within a task.
And with the most obvious ingredient of them all, SUGAR. Everyone needs sugar, as even plants run their photosynthesis cycle with production of glucose. Sugar is a carb, and carbs help us with short term action such as a 100-meter relay, or quick game of basketball.
There are many more widely known substances, but all have relatively the same effects of these previous ingredients, as they assist in blood flow, heartbeat, metabolism, and create larger senses of readiness.
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Source of ingredient information
But what makes these ingredients dangerous?
There are many side effects rather than just an energy boost from ingesting these flavorful energy drinks.
Studies show that energy drink consumption, more off of caffeine consumption, can cause irregular heart contractions. That meaning, it can increase chances of cardiac arrest, especially through age. It also increasing blood activity, therefore blood pressure. It puts one in the position of possible hypertension and at risk of stroke. It can also lead to headaches and harsh forms of migraines, as caffeine almost becomes addictive when one relies on it for energy, as different-than-normal caffeine levels can cause withdrawal symptoms. Energy drinks tend to cause some people to be jittery, just as I am right now. It can increase anxiety, especially when taken with low body movement activities. Along with the jitters and anxiety, it can cause insomnia. You are too awake, too energized and the last thing you could do is sleep, as it effects future actions and concentration when sleep seems to be little. Type-2 Diabetes is very common among energy drink users. These energy drinks can range up 60 grams of sugar (of the ones I drink), which overtime slowly deteriorates the pancreas’s insulin level and insulin producing cells. Lastly, it causes serious dehydration. The drinks make you sweat more, and overheat your body, but cannot replenish the water levels. Ever wonder why your pee might be too yellow? Energy drinks lead to dehydration as caffeine and the other substances drain your system, which in return causes nausea, muscle cramps, constipation, and can actually ruin your energy levels if not treated (by ingesting more water).
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Source of ingredients danger information
So what should I do?
Well in my case, I should probably stop drinking energy drinks. Regular intake of such can lead to serious damage of the body, even though you think you are getting energy. In reality, most of the ingredients are found naturally in the human body, as we make these energy nutrients from the general activity and food intake.
It is pretty obvious to not ingest energy drinks to increase sporting performance. It is not like you see NBA or NFL athletes chug these energy drinks before a game, as the risks and consequences completely outweigh the benefits. Energy drinks can be dangerous, but almost anything can be dangerous. Studies wouldn’t say any of these substances are deathly in an instant, but they are overwhelming to the body when consumed regularly, as moderation is advised.
So will I stop drinking energy drinks? No, but I will drink less of them, and just deal with the consequences of caffeine withdrawal as I shouldn’t have gotten myself in this case to begin with.