The Truth About Energy Drinks

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Common Energy Drink Ingredients

Caffiene

Caffeine is a crystalline compound that stimulates the central nervous system.The wonders of science have show us that there is no doubt that caffeine is a stimulant and scientifically causes an increase in brain activity. Ironically, it is one of the few stimulants that is widely accepted in our culture. A good old regular cup of coffee has about 95 mg of caffeine in it. A can of soda usually has 35-38 milligrams. The majority of energy drink brands can have as much as 240 mg of caffeine; however, many bottles contain 2 and sometimes even 3 servings.

In their annual meeting, The Institute of Food and Technology stated, "a rich database of health evidence exists confirming the safety of caffeine for consumers at current levels of exposure." The FDA is currently on the case and looking into whether caffeine's exoneration back in the 80's is sufficient to squelch recent debates over safety. Some believe it may reveal that the previous decision was built on a foundation of bad science. The general consensus is that the FDA will soon release guidelines for caffeine in beverages. This should help alleviate fears and encourage people to make better decisions regarding caffeine intake. In 2007, research from doctors and scientists at University of California, Davis, stated that, "A recent literature review determined that consumption of up to 400 mg caffeine daily by healthy adults is not associated with adverse effects. However, groups that are at risk, such as women of reproductive age, should limit their daily consumption of caffeine to a maximum of 300 mg." Many sources state a sobering reminder that overindulging in caffeine can cause a potentially unsafe rise in blood pressure and increase in heartbeat.

Gurana

guarana
source: chinadaily.com

Guarana is a seed extracted from a type of shrub located primarily in Brazil. It is believed to act as a stimulant to the nervous system. According to some researchers, it enhances physical performance and promotes weight loss. In 2012, a Doctor wrote an article for WebMD.com stating that, "guarana has among the highest concentrations of caffeine in any plant. It may contain up to 3.6% to 5.8% caffeine by weight." Our beloved coffee only has up to 2%. Their current amount of research is not enough to conclude all that guarana does. What we do know is that caffeine is a component of guarana and many researchers believe caffeine consumption causes increased energy, a decrease in appetite, and enhanced physical performance.

Ginseng

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Ginseng is a perennial plant that is found in both North America and Eastern Asia. It primarily grows in cooler climates. Some studies have shown that it can act as both a stimulant and an immune system boost. Many people believe that it holds significant medicinal value. This is in large part why there are so many herbal remedies involving ginseng. Neuropathic Doctor, Jennifer Brett wrote a fascinating article on ginseng herbal remedies in which she describes the uses of ginseng,

"Asian ginseng is used as a general tonic by modern Western herbalists as well as by traditional Chinese practitioners. It is thought to gently stimulate and strengthen the central nervous system in cases of fatigue, physical exertion, weakness from disease and injury, and prolonged emotional stress. Ginseng's most widespread use is among the elderly. It is reported to help control diabetes, improve blood pressure and heart action, reduce cholesterol levels, and reduce mental confusion, headaches, and weakness among the elderly. Asian ginseng's affinity for the nervous system and its ability to promote relaxation makes it useful for stress-related conditions such as insomnia and anxiety."

Vitamin B

vitamin B
source: skinstitut.com

The B vitamins are a group of eight individual vitamins: cyanocobalamin (B12), thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid, and biotin (we will award bonus points if you can pronounce all of these). Vitamin B basically breaks down carbs into glucose giving energy to the body. This appears to make sense of why many energy drinks contain higher amount carbs and vitamin b. Vitamin b also helps breakdown protein and fat. According to some sources, vitamin b is believed to be good for the skin, eyes, liver, hair, intestinal health, and stomach muscle tone.

Taurine

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Taurine is a amino acid that contains sulfur and helps metabolize fats. The interesting thing that distinguishes taurine from other amino acids is that it differs from a normal essential amino acid. In fact, it is a "conditional amino acid", which means it can be produced by the human body. Mayo Clinic Dietician, Katherine Zeratsky, weighed in on taurine back in 2012 stating, "Taurine is an amino acid that supports neurological development and helps regulate the level of water and mineral salts in the blood. Taurine is also thought to have antioxidant properties. Taurine is found naturally in meat, fish and breast milk, and it's commonly available as a dietary supplement. Some studies suggest that taurine supplementation may improve athletic performance, which may explain why taurine is used in many energy drinks. Other studies suggest that taurine combined with caffeine improves mental performance, although this finding remains controversial. And in one study, people with congestive heart failure who took taurine supplements three times a day for two weeks showed improvement in their exercise capacity. Up to 3,000 milligrams a day of supplemental taurine is considered safe. Any excess taurine is simply excreted by the kidneys. Moderation is important, however. Little is known about the effects of heavy or long-term taurine use."

Sources:

University of California, Davis Article
Mayo Clinic Article
Men's Health Magazine
IFT Newsroom
How Stuff Works
Medicinenet.com
webmd.com

tagged with energy drinks, caffeine, education, guarana, ginseng, taurine