Vitamins in Energy Drinks…. Do They Make You Healthy?
The vitamins in energy drinks aren’t going to make you healthier. In fact, though most have small amounts of B vitamins and vitamin C, the body quickly uses these up because of the large amounts of caffeine and other substances that are added to the drinks. Also, energy drinks can cause your body to quickly use up the vitamins and minerals it already has. In the end, this can be harmful to your health. Not having the right amount of vitamins and minerals can affect every part of you. It can hurt your heart, bones, brain and your immune system (which helps fight infections).
Over time, regular caffeine and alcohol (some of the drinks also have alcohol in them,) may even increase the chances of getting breast cancer and for guys it may increase the chance of getting testicular cancer.
Why Do So Many People Use Energy Drinks?
When you have an energy drink you can definitely feel great. It increases physical energy and stimulates the brain. When this happens, you feel like you can do everything faster and even better. You can also sleep fewer hours. All of this sounds good, but is there a downside to energy drinks?
The Truth About Energy Drinks
Even though energy drinks are everywhere and have some herbs and vitamins in them, the truth is they are addicting and stress out the body in ways that can be dangerous to your health. After drinking energy drinks for a while, most people’s brains and bodies need need more and more of the drinks. They become hooked just like any drug addict. It’s not surprising that over 8 million people are drinking them to a tune of $3 BILLION dollars!
Some people develop stomach problems, begin to feel very nervous and irritable and can no longer sleep well. Less sleep means that over the time, the body becomes weak and people become sick.
Blood pressure can go up and the heart can beat very irregularly. One medical study showed that healthy adults who drank 2 cans of an energy drink a day had their blood pressure and heart rate go up. When this happens the chances of a heart attack, stroke, internal bleeding, and even death go up. This is true for adults AND TEENS.
In other words, energy drinks can make you think you are healthy while you are becoming very ill. You’re heart can be effected no matter how strong or young you are. If the drinks are used with caffeine pills, drugs, and/or alcohol, the problems can be even worse.
How Much Caffeine Are We Talking About?
One of the main ingredients in many energy drinks is guarana, a plant that is one of the richest sources of caffeine. It has up to 3 times the amount of caffeine as in coffee. By the way, the amount of caffeine doesn’t even have to be listed on the label of the drink.
Caffeine intoxication is like being poisoned and can happen to anyone at any time. It causes seriously bad nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, difficulty sleeping, stomach upset, tremors, rapid heartbeats, restlessness, and even death. The sugar in some of the drinks combined with guarana, more caffeine and other energy herbs can be a dangerous combination, even more serious then caffeine intoxication.
What About Alcohol and Energy Drinks
Some people mix energy drinks with alcohol because they think that the energy drink will off-set the effect of alcohol. It may, but that doesn’t matter because the combination of alcohol, caffeine and energy herbs is very dangerous for the nervous system and heart. Your heart can beat irregularly. You can also become dehydrated and end up the hospital. You can even have a heart attack. Anyway you look at it, these substances are a potentially dangerous mix.
Pregnancy and Energy Drinks
If someone becomes pregnant while drinking energy drinks, it can hurt the development of the pregnancy. How serious is unknown. The baby’s brain and physical development can be effected. This can cause the baby to be born with physical and
developmental problems. Even if someone is taking her daily recommended amount of 400-800 mcg of folic acid in a multivitamin, she probably isn’t protected from the bad effects of the energy drinks.
Get Help Right Away
If you are drinking energy drinks and ever having problems urinating (peeing), vomit or have cramps in your stomach, you may be overdosing. Go to a hospital right away. Emergency rooms and Poison Centers are seeing more and more energy drink related nausea and heart problems as the number of people using the drinks increases.
Don’t Stop Right Away
If you or any of your friends drink these every day, you shouldn’t completely stop at one time. You could become very nervous, even depressed and have no energy. You should drink less and less every day so that your body doesn’t have a bad reaction from the withdrawal of the caffeine. The great news is that when your body gets used to not having the caffeine, your energy will come back. You still need to take your vitamins every day, eat healthy foods and exercise.
One last important issue about energy drinks. Research has shown that energy drinks can cause some guys to have what people in the medical community are calling “toxic jock” behavior. This means some guys get aggressive, have unprotected sex, abuse drugs more and can be violent. This is not a good mix for anyone to be around, particularly girls and women. Be careful and take care of yourself so that you don’t get forced into a sexual situation or get physically hurt.
Barbara Kass-Annese, RNCNP, MSN, is a clinician who has written extensively on the topic of vitamins and women’s health. Currently with the California Family Health Council, she also serves as a medical consultant to the Go Folic! Women’s Nutrition Project. We are lucky that she has agreed to write a semi-monthly column, “Clinician’s Corner” for our blog.