The U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers 400 milligrams of caffeine per day to be “safe.” However, drinking an energy drink is not the same as drinking a coffee or soda.
Energy drinks contain up to 500 milligrams of caffeine per bottle/can. Compare that to 100 milligrams of caffeine in one cup of coffee, or around 50 milligrams of caffeine in 12 ounces of soda.
The American Heart Association has found that energy drinks affect the heart more negatively than drinks that contain caffeine alone. This is believed to be due to the combination of ingredients in energy drinks. They often combine caffeine with other energy blends, herbal stimulants, and sugar.
This combination can have serious effects on the mind and body:
Blood pressure: Caffeine raises blood pressure no matter the source. However, the caffeine-stimulant combo in energy drinks maximizes that effect. For individuals who already have high blood pressure (1 out of 3 U.S. adults) they are placing themselves at serious risk. In people who have heart disease or heart defects, high doses of caffeine raise risks for heart attack and stroke, not to mention potentially life-threatening heart rhythm disorders.
Type 2 Diabetes: Many energy drinks are loaded with sugar and will cause blood sugar to immediately skyrocket. Don’t be fooled by the “sugar-free” varieties, the artificial sweeteners they contain are no better.
Headaches and Migraines: For those who have energy drinks regularly, skipping a day or two can bring on horrendous headaches due to caffeine and stimulant withdrawal. These headaches are the body’s way of saying “I am dependent on this and you haven’t given it to me.” Scary to think about, isn’t it? For those who suffer with chronic migraines, energy drinks are a definite potential trigger.
Increased Anxiety: In some individuals, heavy caffeine use can also trigger feelings of increased anxiety, nervousness, and the jitters. Larger doses of caffeine, like multiple energy drinks in a day, can even bring on full blown panic attacks. These effects can be multiplied if the individual is taking medication to treat anxiety or depression, as the ingredients in energy drinks counter-act some prescription medications.
Insomnia: Energy drinks are supposed to help keep you awake. However, when they affect you heavily, or when you ingest too much, they can prevent you from sleeping when you need to. Can you imagine lying in bed, desperate to sleep, but being unable to do so? This lack of sleep not only wears on your patience, but on your body. Loss of sleep can impair motor function, as well as the immune system.
Risky behavior: For some, caffeine can bring on an almost drug-like high. Teens and young adults often don’t stop after just one. Ingesting large amounts of energy drinks can cause a stimulant-induced feeling of euphoria, and can bring on serious safety (not to mention legal) concerns.
The trend of mixing energy drinks with alcohol only increases these risks. While energy drinks raise blood pressure and heart rate, they also intensify the effects of alcohol. The energy drink acts as a stimulant, while the alcohol acts as a depressant. When combined, this sends contradicting messages to the brain and body, having potentially dangerous effects which are more difficult to recover from than the average “hangover.”
Instead of reaching for an energy drink, get your caffeine from a healthier source like coffee or tea. Research has found that coffee can actually be helpful in healing diabetes and lowering blood sugar!
There are many ways to feel better and have more energy on a daily basis, without risking your health. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water keeps the body and mind moving and grooving! Check your blood sugar often; feeling fatigued could mean your blood sugar is too high or too low.
Start the day with a healthy breakfast, and make smart food choices throughout the day. Get moving – physical activity will give you a happy and healthy boost. Establish a bedtime routine to help prepare your body for rest. Check out this article for more healthy ways to energize and refresh your mind and body!