Experts Weigh In On Energy Drinks

Are energy drinks good for you? How much caffeine is in one can? What are these other ingredients that are in these drinks? Why do so many people think it is an alternative for sleep? Is it?

These are just some questions that everyone asks that start controversial thoughts within doctors, students, athletes, trainers and parents.

Recently, a 14 year-old girl from Maryland died due to drinking Monster energy; as a result of that, the Federal Drug Administration is investigating that case and four other deaths due to Monster energy drinks. Some people argue that an adolescent that young shouldn’t be in taking high levels of caffeine but most energy cans don’t have warning signs for a specific age.

Many people can agree with saying that energy drinks may help you wake up when you have to write a paper or if you had a long night and have early class in the morning but they can become addictive. Just like coffee and pain killers, sometimes energy drinks stop working and people just take them because of the taste or the placebo effect.

“It’s not legal for NCAA during season to drink energy drinks,” said William Koki, a senior in Mercy College who also plays on the soccer team.  “It depends on which types of energy drinks but drinks like Monster aren’t legal but sometimes I’ll drink coffee. I just don’t like energy drinks at all. I’ll drink coffee when I’m tired and I have to go class. I used to drink those drinks when I was a lot younger but I stopped because it wasn’t good for my health.”

In a recent survey from the New York Times, 32 percent of American high school athletes reported drinking energy beverages, 27 percent of a group of 16,000 adolescent athletes, some as young as 11, said that they used caffeine, usually in the form of energy drinks, to improve their sports performance; 13 percent said they did so at the urging of their coaches. College statistics differ but that is because consumption of energy drinks are illegal through the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

High levels of caffeine and many ingredients in energy drinks are banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and most athletic departments advise students to avoid the drinks entirely.

“I do not condone, allow or encourage the use of any product that is banned by the NCAA whether we are in season or out of season,” said Chris S. Smith, head coach of Mercy Colleges’ soccer team. “These quick fix products may be a temporary remedy for performance enhancement but do not have any nutritional benefit and only distract serious athletes from spending their training time in a productive manner.  A well balanced diet with exercise and discipline is the best way to chase your fitness goals.”

Coaches, athletes and students of Mercy College have different opinions on how they feel about these energy drinks, but its hard to deny several health problesm that many have had due to drinking them.

“There’s good evidence that caffeine is ergogenic,” said Dr. Erin Duchan, a pediatrician and co-author of a review of the current science about energy drinks for athletes, published recently in The Physician and Sports Medicine. “It can, in the right circumstances, improve athletic performance.”

Duchan said each athlete differs in the amount of caffeine they need.

On the other hand, Dr. Higgins a cardiologist, is the lead author of a new review about the ingredients and efficacy of energy drinks, published last month in Mayo Clinic Proceedings said energy drinks “can contribute to dehydration,” and the massive amounts of sugar in energy drinks have been known to cause diarrhea and other gastrointestinal upset, he said, “which is certainly not going to improve anyone’s performance.”

This isn’t new news due to the fact that energy drinks have been around in one form or another for years and years; the first commercially produced energy drink was introduced in 1901 which is over a hundred years ago.  It is now mandatory to have warning labels on energy drinks as well as most FDA products; it wasn’t mandatory 100 years ago so people were never educated on the outcomes of excessive consumption of energy drinks.

Rock Star energy drink includes a warning label to pregnant women, children and those who are sensitive to caffeinated beverages.  Energy drinks as well as coffee can get very addicting because of the caffeine that both substances contain which is one negative outcome of constant intake of these drinks. Besides the addictions, energy drink AMP energy runs up to $2.42 in Mercy College library cafeteria; addictive and pricey, something that most people try to stay away from.

In 2001 energy drinks made an income of $8 million annually and five years later, energy drink sales grew to more than $3 billion dollars annually.