Energy Drinks: the Flavorful, yet Unfortunate Truth

The Inside Scoop on Energy Drinks and Their Effects on Your Health

Popular energy drink choices.

Popular energy drink choices.

Hanna Grass, Writer

Sure, Red Bull may give you wings, but did you know that it will also give you high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems?

The Energy Drink industry has seen a major influx over the past decade, and it is undeniable that brands like Monster, Red Bull, Celsius, Rockstar, and Energy Shot are filling shelves everywhere. In fact, according to Acumen Research and Consulting, the global energy drinks market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.1% through 2030 due to consumers’ increasing focus on wellness, endurance and alertness.

It is a common belief that by incorporating an energy drink into one’s daily substance intake, productivity, happiness, and ability to focus are greatly enhanced. While this is not entirely untrue, there is much more that needs to be addressed when analyzing this genre of beverages.

The two key ingredients in energy drinks are sugar and caffeine and the combination of these supplements is what charges your mind and body to stay awake and energized. This formula is pretty straightforward, but the sweet, zero calorie, liquid you guzzle before the gym may secretly be playing some nasty, long term tricks on your bodily functions and organs.

“One serving of an energy drink contains about 25 g – 39 g of sugar,” according to Nova Medical. “Large quantities of sugar consumption can lead to the following: jitters, sleep disorders, dental problems, obesity, and diabetes.”

Furthermore, with the extremely high dosage of caffeine in each drink(200-500mg), certain individuals may find themselves having increased anxiety, insomnia, heart problems like irregular heartbeat and elevated blood pressure, and in rare cases seizures or cardiac arrest. This is a drastic difference to a standard 8oz cup of coffee with only 95mg of caffeine.

In any dosage, caffeine is not something to mess around with. Although it might make you feel good on the surface, it may be having serious and dangerous effects on your body. This is especially the case for the younger generations, as advertisements are marketed directly to their appeal.

“Youth are exposed to energy drink advertising on children’s websites, computer games, television, supermarkets, and sporting events,” Harvard School of Medicine explained. “Research has shown that adolescents lack maturity in key areas of the brain and are more likely to engage in risk-taking behavior, making them vulnerable to risky behaviors sometimes portrayed in energy drink marketing.”

Once someone adds the indulgence of an energy drink into their routine, addiction to the beverage can creep up fast. With its high sugar content, adolescents and teens are more prone to latch on to the addictive trait and continue this cycle with other, more harmful substances.

A greater danger is introduced if energy drinks are combined with alcohol, a trend largely seen in underage drinkers. While parents, teachers, and adults in the community like to believe that their children are making choices to avoid influential and potentially dangerous refreshments, illegal, underage consumption of alcohol happens more than one might think. In fact, some of the most popular cocktail drinks amongst this generation include energy drinks and high-caffeinated additives.

“Studies suggest that drinking this type of cocktail leads to a greater alcohol intake than if just drinking alcohol alone. This may be because energy drinks increase alertness that masks the signs of inebriation, leading one to believe they can consume even more alcohol,” Harvard School of Public Health proves. “In case reports, high consumption of energy drinks—especially when mixed with alcohol—has been linked to adverse cardiovascular, psychological, and neurologic events, including fatal events.”

Feeling rested, energized, and excited to live your days to the fullest is something each and every one of us strives for. However, it is not healthy to rely on energy drinks to carry you through the daytime hours, a long shift, or an upcoming exam. Instead, prioritize your sleep, good nutrition, and adequate hydration. Having a single sip or occasional can of Red Bull is not going to leave you in cardiac arrest, but please keep your consumption in check; your body will thank you.