Feeling the Energy Buzz?

13 years ago Comments Off on Feeling the Energy Buzz?

In the midst of midterms, students will probably be stocking up on their notoriously favorite drug of choice- caffeine. It’s been around for a long time and is in many people’s favorite drinks: coffee, tea and colas. Energy drinks are the newest method for students to get their boost. Some people seem concerned about what might be higher levels of caffeine contained in these drinks, plus other ingredients, which haven’t been around as long.

Most energy drinks contain sugar, caffeine and vitamins. Others have added taurine, a non-essential amino acid, and ginseng, a stimulant that is not in the caffeine family. Besides caffeine, supplements from which caffeine is derived, like guarana and yerba mate are also listed.

Because these drinks are not required to list the amount of caffeine in the drink, the dosage can be difficult to determine. Red Bull is listed at having 80 milligrams, which, according to Snopes.com, is similar to the amount found in a cup of coffee, and Be, a drink which mixes beer and caffeine, is listed at 54 mg.

The growing practice of mixing energy drinks with alcohol has recently been explored in the media. CBC Canada explained that the 80 mg of caffeine in Red Bull are equal to 73 times found in a can of Coke.

In 2001, the BBC reported two deaths in Sweden are under investigation for a possible link between mixing Red Bull with vodka and causing dehydration. Another case did not include alcohol but seems to have led to dehydration. Because alcohol and caffeine are both diuretics, which cause the body to lose hydration, Sweden issued a warning about mixing energy drinks with alcohol. Red Bull stated that no link had been confirmed between Red Bull and the deaths. “They need to be seen to be precautionary,” said a Red Bull representative, “but there’s no proof that Red Bull is harmful when mixed.”

According to BBC.co.uk, France, Denmark and Norway were so concerned about the caffeine content they classed the drinks as “medicinal.”

Tom Schwager, a manager at the Jolly Fox Club, said they sell Red Bull and Sobe’s Adrenaline, both of which are mixed by the club’s bartenders with liquor, but said he hasn’t seen any bad effects of mixing the two drinks.

Michelle Lovering, the health program coordinator for SHSU, said her main concern would actually be the high amounts of sugar in the drinks. “I don’t know that they have a harmful effect. Some have a lot of vitamins, but it’s best to eat a healthy diet and get a good night’s sleep,” said Lovering.

With 35 grams of sugar per serving, Sobe’s Adrenaline gives the biggest sugar buzz, but both Monster and Full Throttle come in two-serving cans, with 27 and 29g of sugar in each, respectively. Pimp juice comes in at a close second with 34g of sugar per serving. The least amount of sugar, disregarding the sugar-free energy drinks, is Hype.

Lovering mentioned that some energy drinks used to contain ephedra, which was a cause for concern, but since that was banned, she added students should look out for ingredients with “ephedra-like properties: ma-huang, and guarana.”

She said most of what she knows about energy drinks shows them to be relatively safe. “Energy drinks basically give you a boost similar to coffee or other caffeine supplements. It’ll give you a boost of energy. Caffeine overall is not detrimental to your health.”

Of course, many students use them to make up for a lack of sleep, and trying to drive in that condition is a bad idea. “Just being tired will slow down body functions and coordination. [That] may not be a great combination. It’s not a healthy lifestyle. It goes against the things we recommend.”

What about mixing energy drinks with alcohol? “I think it gives people a false sense of security. Alcohol is a depressant. When you mix it with caffeine, you’re getting a hyper drunk. That may lead to excessive alcohol consumption,” Lovering said.

Some students on campus who do drink energy drinks don’t mix them with alcohol. Adrian Smith, a sophomore Biology major, said he occasionally alternates beer and energy drinks, but he never mixes them. “Sometimes I need it because I get low on energy.”

Dustin Harrell, also majoring in Biology, said mixing alcohol and energy drinks “seems dangerous. It’s a mind thing. I don’t think it’s any different [than coffee,] it just powers you up.”

“They give me a boost of energy,” said Natalie Rendon, a criminal justice major. She drinks energy drinks when on a long car trip, but has never mixed energy drinks with alcohol. “I’ve never tried it. It would be a bad thing. I would figure out the consequences before I do that,” she advised.

The best advice to keep in mind with energy drinks is the same for alcohol consumption. Moderation is the key, and if mixing them together, be especially careful.