Energy Drinks: Are They Safe?

Coffee might be the caffeinated beverage of choice among most adults, but walk into any convenience store, drug store, or supermarket and you’ll be bombarded with products promising hours of energy. These so-called energy drinks—generally packaged in bright and colorful cans—contain caffeine and can supposedly help you stay awake regardless of how exhausted you may be. They are becoming increasingly popular among teens and young adults.

How Much Caffeine Are You Really Drinking?
Many people—students, shift workers, people with two jobs, athletes—turn to energy drinks for enhanced alertness when sleep isn’t a viable option. Unfortunately, these drinks could very well be doing more harm than good.

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As most people already know, caffeine is a stimulant that can increase alertness and even help improve concentration levels and mood. Moderate caffeine consumption is usually safe for most adults. A few cups of coffee or a few sodas per day is generally considered to be acceptable, but it is possible to enjoy “too much of a good thing.” Too much caffeine can lead to rather mild problems like irritability, restlessness, and trouble sleeping; massive caffeine overdoses can also lead to more severe problems, including abnormal heart beats and reduced blood flow to the heart.

Unfortunately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates the maximum amount of caffeine that can be placed in soft drinks; however, it has set no such limits for energy drinks.

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Can Energy Drinks Contribute to Death?
Although they have been on the market since 1997 with the introduction of Red Bull, a media frenzy has surrounded energy drinks and their safety in recent weeks. While the FDA neither evaluates nor endorses the claims made by the manufacturers of dietary supplements—which, oddly, include energy drinks— the FDA has released reports on the deaths of five people that have been linked to Monster, one of the most popular energy drinks on the market. Federal officials have also received reports of 13 deaths possibly linked to 5-Hour Energy shots.

According to a lawsuit from her parents, 14-year-old Maryland resident Anais Fournier purchased and consumed two 24-ounce Monster energy drinks during the same weekend. Hours after finishing the second beverage, the teen went into cardiac arrest and died of “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity complicating mitral valve regurgitation in the setting of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome,” a genetic disorder with which the patient had been previously diagnosed.

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An Expert’s Opinion
While the manufacturers of energy drinks are quick to point out that their beverages contain no more caffeine than a few cups of coffee or soft drinks, Dr. Thomas Benzoni of Mercy Medical Center says thatattempting to replace sleep with anything can lead to life-threatening injuries like heart attacks. Although many people argue otherwise, sleep is crucial for both physical and mental well-being.

In short, energy drinks are most likely not a direct cause of death, but they could certainly be considered to be contributing factors. Not only are these beverages packed with caffeine, but, they are generally loaded with sugar—a big killer for the waistline as well as your teeth and gums. Proper oral care habits such as making healthy food choices and brushing and flossing regularly are critical for your overall health. Like some energy drinks, poor dental hygiene has also been linked to several major health issues.

Chris Turberville-Tully works with Dental Implants Harley Street, dental surgeons in the heart of London providing crown replacements, bridge replacements, and dental stablization procedures.


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