Monster Energy Being Sued! Are Energy Drinks Unsafe?
You may have heard that the Monster energy drinks is being sued. Parents of 14 year old Anais Fournier feel that it was her consumption of two 24 oz. cans of the drink that led to her death. This case, along with others, is prompting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate the energy drink industry, as a whole.
Should these heavily caffeinated products be considered unsafe?
Is this a new revelation?
What are the consequences of ingesting these products to give us an energy boost?
The Caffeine Experience
Caffeine is a stimulant. It mimics the neurohormone "norepinephrine" (commonly known as adrenalin) and for many, it heightens alertness and energy. It has been used for generations from the chewing of cola nuts, to coffee and, most recently, designer energy drinks.
Energy drinks are heavily marketed and are rapidly coming to define a generation. Playing the modern sociologist, I see Monster logos on the binders of school kids and the back windows of cars. Red Bull is a prominent sponsor of anything "adrenaline-packed," like motocross, snowboarding, and, most recently, the world record skydive from the earth's stratosphere. They sell it and people buy it - particularly the younger generation.
The Caffeinated Beverage Spectrum
Not all caffeinated beverages are created the same and comparison illustrates the ridiculous amount of caffeine contained in energy drinks.
- Can of Coca Cola: 12 oz 34 mg of caffeine
- Cup of Coffee: 8 oz 108 mg of caffeine
- Monster Energy Drink: 24 oz 240 mg of caffeine
How Much is Too Much Caffeine?
Caffeine dehydrates our tissues and can lead to muscle injury and painful knots. While most adults can tolerate 200-300 mg of caffeine, excess can lead to nervousness, jitters, and insomnia. Further, with regular use, our bodies can become dependent on it over time.
It is not uncommon for me to see a teenager who says they suffering from daily morning headaches and the only thing that fixes the headache is an energy drink. Thank goodness for those energy drinks and their medicinal headache-relieving properties, right? Wrong!
Though caffeine can, in fact, help with a headache, it only helps with "caffeine rebound" types. Caffeine is actually one of the most common causes of chronic daily headaches. Though rare, in addition to headaches, too much caffeine can also promote rhythm disturbances in the heart which can, in turn, lead to death.
Using caffeine to gain energy is like buying on credit. The bill will eventually come in the form of sleeping troubles or health problems. A deprived state that isn't soon balanced, can lead to immune system issues and suffering psychological well-being and mechanical functioning.
Should the Government Crackdown on Energy Drinks?
The ill effects of excessive caffeine have been long known. Caffeine, in various forms, was the main component in the numerous dietary supplements that have been taken off the market for health reasons.
Like many other products (alcohol, cold medicine, and even chocolate) moderate and appropriate use leaves no ill effects. It's the excessive use and abuse that leads to negative consequences.
One problem with energy drinks is that the FDA does not require the amount of caffeine to be included in the labeling. All companies are required to do is list "caffeine" as a component if it is one - and caffeine is often hidden in "natural" ingredients such as cola nut extract or guarana seed. The public is thus left unaware of the amount of caffeine they are consuming, and, topping the list of the unaware, are the youth to whom these products are most heavily marketed!
Did you know our bodies actually manufacture their own caffeine-like hormones? Aerobic exercise is a great, healthy way to bring this out and boost energy levels. And of course, there's sleep - the best antidote for feeling fatigued! No matter what, our days only have 24 hours and our batteries need to be recharged on a daily basis.
Energy drinks are heavily marketed to youth in the "adrenalin generation" who crave more energy and hope that a quick-fix energy drink will deliver. Unfortunately, though, these drinks rarely reveal their exact caffeine content, and too much caffeine can bring about ill health effects. While some caffeine may yield positive results, symptoms like frequent headaches should prompt people to cut it out of their diet for a while.
Remember: the healthiest way to get our bodies energized is with a good night's sleep!
Photo Credit: leilaschumacher