Commonly sold caffeine-based energy drinks contain large doses of caffeine and other legal stimulants like guarana and ginseng. The amount of caffeine in an energy drink can range from 75 milligrams to over 200 milligrams per serving. This compares to 34 milligrams in Coke and 55 milligrams in Mountain Dew.
If energy-drinks advertises no caffeine, then the energy comes from guarana. Guarana, an extract from the plant Paullinia cupana, contains caffeine, theobromine and theophylline.
Guarana is one of the traditional herbal remedies that has played an important role in the Amazonian Indians’ society. It often is taken during periods of fasting to improve tolerance of dietary restrictions.
Energy drinks can be dangerous and should not be used while exercising, as the combination of fluid loss from sweating and the diuretic quality of the caffeine can leave the body severely dehydrated.
The most commonly reported symptoms related to the recreational use of caffeine-based energy drinks are are gastrointestinal upset and sympathetic overdrive; some users suffer from serious toxicity such as hallucinations, seizures, and cardiac ischaemia.
Research data also shows that drinkers who mix these energy drinks with alcohol are more likely to binge drink. Furthermore the caffeine in these drinks can mask the depressant effects of alcohol.
A US study further determined that drinkers who consume alcohol along with energy drinks are twice as likely as drinkers (who do not mix alcohol with energy drinks) to be taken advantage of sexually, or they report taking advantage of someone else sexually.
It is also of great importance to keep energy drinks away from children as they are more susceptible to the negative effects of caffeine than adults. A prime example came from data from the poisons centers in the US where 40% of calls made from 2010 to 2013 were related to energy drinks exposure’ for children under the age of 6 years; symptoms included abnormal heart rhythms.
Given the clear evidence that frequent intake of caffeine energy drinks in adults and minimal intake in children is detrimental to health, it is strongly recommended to avoid consumption of these beverages. Furthermore, it is paramount that governments consider educating the general public particularly adolescents and parents on the dangers of these caffeine-based energy drinks.