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A Taste of Energy

Posted Oct 01 2011 8:12pm

“So many things to do, but oh so little time...” The need to stretch one’s energy, productivity, alertness and to stay focus on a given task paved the way for the popularity of energy drinks. These drinks are particularly attractive to young people. In the US, approximately 65% of energy drink consumers are between the ages of 13 and 35 years old.

The use of energy drinks is to stay awake. Based on label declaration, energy drinks commonly contain sugar and lots of caffeine. However, its caffeine should not exceed 200 ppm (parts per million). A typical energy drink contains about 80 milligrams (mg) of caffeine similar to a cup of coffee, while an average soft drink only contains about 18-48 mg of caffeine.
Other common ingredients found in energy drinks include: ephedrine, taurine, guarana, B vitamins, ginseng, ginko biloba, L-carnitine, yerba mate, creatine and acai berry.
In the Philippines, a total of 67 energy drinks are currently registered with the Food and Drug Administration. Still, many local and foreign brands sold in the market are not yet are tested, validated, and registered by the agency.
Energy drinks are generally safe as long as they are taken in moderation and not mixed with any alcoholic substance. This is dangerous, since alcohol is a depressant and has a tranquilizing effect on the body. This mixture can be very fatal because energy drinks can mask the influence of alcohol and the drinker may misinterpret their actual level of intoxication.
Another word of caution is that energy drinks should not be consumed while exercising or indulging in a sport activity because caffeine is a diuretic (i.e., it causes one to urinate very often) which promotes dehydration. Energy drinks are different from, and should not be confused with, sports drinks that are formulated to keep people hydrated during intense physical activity.
Some of the reported adverse effects of excessive intake of energy drinks to the body are:
• Sleeping problems resulting insomnia due to high amounts of caffeine;• Dehydration from loss of body fluid since caffeine is a diuretic;• Dizziness, nausea, and irritability also from caffeine;• Allergic reactions like hives, rashes, itching or oral swelling;• Liver toxicity if vitamin B3 exceeds 3000 mg and skin lesions or burning sensation if vitamin B6 exceeds 100 mg;• Gastrointestinal problems because energy drinks contain too much carbohydrate. This makes it hard for the body to absorb the nutrients from the intestines going to the bloodstream; and• Diarrhea because most energy drinks contain large quantities of inositol.
The rule of moderation should always be considered when consuming energy drinks. Instead of energy drinks, try natural energy-giving foods like cereal, pasta, rice, bread, starchy food like potato and corn, and B complex vitamins which are necessary for the body’s production of energy, coupled with a balanced diet and the right amount of sleep and exercise.
Based on a DOH HealthBeat article (July-August 2011) written by Donato Dennis B. Magat. Photo by Joerem P. Ceria.
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