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Energy Drinks Can Be Dangerous
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Energy drinks are beverages that contain large doses of caffeine and other stimulants. Are they safe to drink?



The next time you're feeling sluggish, think before you chug down an energy drink. You might be safer reviving yourself with a piece of fruit or a splash of cold water. Energy drinks - unlike sports drinks - may be hazardous to your health.

Energy drinks are beverages that contain large doses of caffeine or other stimulants. Energy drinks should not be confused with sports drinks, which aim to replace the carbohydrates and minerals that a body needs after intense exercise.

The amount of caffeine in an average energy drink can range from 75 mg to over 200 mg per serving. This is 2 to 4 times the amount of caffeine in the average caffeinated soda, and the equivalent of 1 to 2 cups of coffee or more. Energy drinks packed as "energy shots" may contain up to 5 times the amount in an average soda.

In addition, many energy drinks:

Have more than 1 serving. If you drink the entire bottle, you may be getting 2-3 times the caffeine and sugar listed on the nutrition facts panel.
Contain guarana, a plant that contains caffeine. Each gram of guarana can contain 40 to 80 mg of caffeine. Since manufacturers are not required to list the caffeine content from guarine, the actual caffeine dose in a single serving may exceed that listed on the label.
Include herbal stimulants like ginseng, kola nut, yerbamate, and cocoa, which can intensify the effect of caffeine. The drinks often also contain a large dose of sugar.

The FDA imposes a limit of 71 mg of caffeine per 12 fl oz of soda. Energy drink manufacturers get around this limit by claiming that their drinks are "natural dietary supplements." They are therefore regulated as a food, not a drug, by the FDA, and not subject to strict labeling laws.

Who's at risk?
The occasional energy drink is not a problem for most healthy adults. But energy drinks can be very dangerous, and certain populations should be especially careful. These include:

People with high blood pressure, an abnormal heart rhythm, or other forms of heart disease. Energy drinks can raise both blood pressure and heart rate. If you have any of these conditions, drinking even one could be dangerous. Energy drinks may also interfere with the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.
Children and young adults. Thirty to 50 percent of adolescents and young adults drink energy drinks. Lack of sleep and the desire to increase energy are the most popular reasons Caffeine can improve attention, but it also increases blood pressure and sleep disturbances in children. Experts recommend no more than 100 mg a day of caffeine for children.

Reported side effects from drinking smaller amounts of energy drinks include nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Larger amounts have resulted in seizures, kidney and heart failure, and even death. Though all children are potentially at risk, those who have seizures, diabetes, heart problems, mood or behavioral disorders, or take certain medications are especially vulnerable.

Athletes. Excessive use of energy drinks as performance-boosters before exercising or playing sports can be dangerous. Energy drinks may further increase blood pressure and heart rate already piqued by activity.
Pregnant women. Pregnant women are advised to avoid energy drinks. Caffeine intakes of 300 mg/day have been associated with miscarriage and low birth weight.

Alcohol and energy drinks: a dangerous combination
Some energy drinks contain alcohol. It is also common to mix energy drinks with alcohol. This can lead to the potential for a dangerously rapid heart beat and even a heart attack. Further, the stimulants in energy drinks can mask how intoxicated you are.

Energy drinks are marketed mainly to college-age students. Many young people who consume them are not aware of their potentially harmful effects. Canada and some European countries have banned some or all of them.

The bottom line
Though the occasional energy drink for healthy adults may be safe, overuse of energy drinks can be dangerous. Most experts recommend seeking out healthier alternatives to boost your energy and stamina. These can include exercise, good sleep habits, and a nutritious diet.

Children, young adults, pregnant women, and those with heart or other medical conditions like Generic ED Pills should seek the advice of their doctors before consuming energy drinks.
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