Are you 20-30 years old male who loves to work hard (gym or just work in general)? Then I assume you are no stranger to the concept of energy drinks. These drinks gave us incredible amount of energy and boost us up in the terms of energy, in a very short amount of time. Very effective and efficient when we need to work hard but don’t feel like it, isn’t it? You might heard a thing or two about this particular matter: don’t consume too much energy drinks. It won’t be good for you. Is this statement right? Or is it not?
Why don’t we find out. In this article, we will talk further about energy drinks and what it contains. The ingredients in it is exactly why you feel energize every time you take one. But before we progress to the ingredients, let’s get to know more about energy drinks.
What is Energy Drink?
Energy drink is a type of beverages that contains stimulant drugs. These drinks are usually marketed and promoted as providing mental and physical stimulation. They may/may not be carbonated. Many of it contains much sugar (or artificial sugar), herbal extracts, taurine and amino acids. You can find many brands and varieties of energy drinks nowadays.
Coffee, tea, and other beverages that contains natural caffeine are not considered energy drinks, as well as cola (which more known as soft drinks). According to Mayo Clinic, healthy adult have 400 mg caffeine limit per day, and that the intake of more than 400 mg per day could consider dangerous or not safe. 400 mg of caffeine equals 4 cups of coffee (standart cup), and 5 cans of coffee (@250 ml can with 80 mg caffeine per can).
Energy drinks have the effects caffeine and sugar provided, although other ingredients are considered having little to no effects at all. Usually, energy drinks improve cognitive performance (increased attention and reaction speed. This is usually because of the caffeine). Other studies stated that those performance improvement are the result of the combined ingredients. There is no scientific evidence that said these energy drinks are helping muscle strength improvement and endurance, even though the advertisement on this matter usually includes it.
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There are several ingredients that are widely known (and proven effective) to act as a stimulant for our muscle and body reactant. Let’s find out more about Chemicals in Energy Drinks!
- Caffeine – C8H10N4O2
Caffeine is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant of the mmthylxanthine class. It is used as psychoactive drug. Caffeine is the most widely used psychoactive drugs and usually, people use it every single day to improve their cognitive response. Unlike other psychoactive drug, caffeine is legal and unregulated in every corner of the world. There are several mechanism of action (it blocks the action of adenosine on its receptor and stimulate certain parts of our autonomic nervous system) in this chemical compound.
We can find natural caffeine in drinks like tea and coffee. However, manufacturer tend to add artificial caffeine into other drinks such as energy drinks and soft drinks. Caffeine gives the body sense of alertness as well as making the blood vessels dilated. This is why many people choose to take it daily. However, too much caffeine is not a good idea because it can lead to several disturbance in our respiratory system.
When you have exceed your daily intake of caffeine, you would more likely suffer heart palpitations, headaches, nausea and jitters (this is the most common ones). The healthy intake for caffeine is 400 mg per day and this means you can get yourself about 4 cups of drinks (tea or coffee) with each cup having about 80 mg of caffeine.
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- Taurine – C2H7NO3S
Taurine is an amino acid that is produced by human body (usually naturally). However, the taurine that we often found in energy drinks are usually manufactured, as it has good effects on making human more upbeat. Taurine helps regulate heartbeat, contractions of the muscles and our energy levels. Usually, the body makes enough taurine, so there is no need to suplement.
But, people argue that when you are feeling sick, tired, physically exert or in injury, your body won’t make enough taurine, so the supplements can help you getting better energy for doing activities or just feeling well/good in general. Taurine could be a mild inhibitory neurotransmitter compound. Which is allowing people to function better with elevated levels of other stimulants. Studies also found that this particular chemical compound can help us lowering our cholesterol, increase our effectiveness in terms of heart muscle contractions, and improve blood flow as well as increasing the oxygen supply to the heart cells.
- B Vitamins
B vitamin is one overrated ingredients of energy drinks, so to speak. Sure, if we are taking less B vitamins than our body needs, we might experience some discomfort in our body: feeling tired and dizzy. However, expert says that your intake in daily meat, vegetables and fruits are good enough to cover your need of B vitamins. The amount of B vitamins that we could find in energy drinks could way exceed the need of this vitamin daily. One can of energy drinks could even contain 8000% more than the recommended daily intake of B vitamin. What a shocking truth.
According to the British Journal of Medicine (through the case study they publish), the toxic levels of niacin build up in a man’s body after he consumed 5 can of energy drinks for the period of three weeks. This leads to nonviral hepatitis. B vitamins are good for our body, but not if taken excessively. No one – not even the expert on this matter – knows why B vitamins are promoted vigorously in each commercials of energy drinks. “Maybe it’s just a marketing trick to lure more people” Marrie Caudhil, P.hd R.D from Cornell University commented regarding this matter.
- Inositol (C6H120)
Inositol is a chemical compound which is widely available in nature. It could found in many fruits, especially orange and cantaloupes. The use inositol in energy drinks are mainly because it is used as cutting agent or adulterant. There is no formal study about this matter but inositol can upset stomach, cause dizziness and tiredness, as well as headaches. Large doses usually used to treat certain pshyciatric disease.
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Ginseng has very good effects for our body. It makes our body healthy and has been used for several hundred years to maintain the freshness of human body. However, some study reveals that ginseng could actually lead to several disturbance on health. These effects are : low blood pressure, edema, palpitations, vaginal bleeding, fever, appetite supression, tachycardia, vertigo, headache, mastalgia, euphoria, or even miscarriage. Of course, this is all will occurs only if you consume it excessively as this particular ingredient is actually very good for your body if taken fairly.
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- Glucuronolactone – C6H8O6
Glucuronolactone is a naturally occurring chemicals that is an important structural in nearly connective tissue. While no side effects has been reported, the using of glucuronolactone received any critics because it is said to have bad effects on human brain. It is also has been related to several chronic disease such as brain tumor. Many country such as France, Canada and German has stated that this particular chemical is not safe to be consumed.
- Artificial Sweetener
Chemicals in Energy Drinks, If you are drinking sugar-free energy drinks, you will most likely consume one with artificial sweetener in the stock. While there is no prohibitions on its distribution (And all major health institution has declared it safe), there is always heated debate on whether or not artificial sweetener is safe for your body to consume. This is true matter to think about, especially aspartam (as it is the most common used artificial sweetener and frankly, not very healthy).
Antioxidants are molecules that helps the body recover and prevent damage from free radicals. Usually, we can find vitamin C and E, vit A (a.k.a beta carotene , retinol) and selenium in most popular energy drinks. These are all antioxidants. Antioxidants helps cure illness and prevent cellular damage. Most of these antioxidants are flushed from the body when taken excessively, but vitamin A could be dangerous because it is built up in the body. It could cause liver damage as well. This is why we shouldn’t rely on energy drinks when it comes to our body’s need of antioxidant.
Creatine is naturally created in the body. However, you can also find it in meat. This is one of the reason of why they say that eating meat could actually helps build your muscles, as meat contains generous amount of creatine. Too much creatine won’t be good for our body because it can lead to kidney damage.
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So there you have it, 9 active ingredients of Energy drinks that have various debatable effects. Energy drinks could really helps us when it comes to providing extra lift for our energy to soar, but we must also remember that taken everything excessively is never good as it has several dangerous effects of chemicals in energy drinks.
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