Have you ever been exhausted and walk into a convenience store for a quick pick-me-up? 

Maybe you got a coffee, or perhaps, you opted for an energy drink. 

They are sweet, carbonated, caffeine-packed, and POPULAR. According to CNN Health, the energy drink market was worth $39 BILLION in 2013. Experts estimated the market to nearly double by 2021. 

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, energy drinks are the second most popular dietary supplement among teens and young adults in Canada (next to multivitamins). 

What can we assume from these statistics? That people love energy drinks. 

Numerous scientists and doctors have come forward with a warning: Energy drinks may be detrimental to your health. 

Most energy drinks are a combination of amino acids, vitamins, caffeine, and sugar. These sweet, soda-like drinks have their own list of overdose cases that have lead to hospitalization and death. 

The Food and Drug Administration has warned that caffeine powder poses “a significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury under the conditions of use recommended or suggested in the labelling”.

There are numerous risks of being a frequent energy drink consumer – some more serious than others. 

The average adult has to consume multiple energy drinks to risk cardiac arrest. However, individuals with underlying heart conditions have reported going into cardiac arrest much before the average amount. 

Another primary concern for doctors is the risk of energy drinks increasing blood pressure. For individuals with blood pressure in a healthy range, this typically isn’t detrimental. However, if you’re already suffering from elevated blood pressure, increasing it further can put you at risk for hypertension (and potentially a stroke). 

Other health issues that regular consumption of energy drinks can lead to:

  • Anxiety: large doses of caffeine can trigger anxiety attacks. 
  • Headaches: Differing caffeine amounts can cause a higher frequency of headaches.
  • Migraines: Migraines can be triggered when caffeine-withdrawal symptoms occur.
  • Insomnia: Lack of sleep can cause impaired functioning.
  • Diabetes: The high sugar content in energy drinks can wear out of insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, leading to Type II Diabetes. 
  • Addiction or dependency.
  • Jitters: Many caffeine drinks recall shaking.
  • Vomiting: Vomiting can lead to dehydration. 
  • Niacin Overdose: Symptoms of a niacin overdose include flushed skin, dizziness, itching, gout, and a rapid heart rate.
  • Aggression: A study in the US Military showed soldiers who drink 2+ energy drinks a day are more likely to exhibit aggression.

When it comes to consuming most products, moderation is key. Caffeine products should be used sparingly, and use should be terminated if severe side effects are present. 

Children should be kept away from energy drinks and any caffeinated products at all times. 

Another concern for scientists and doctors is the mixture of alcohol and energy drinks. Over the past decade, many Millenials and teens have opted for two highly-popular drinks. This mixture has caused fatalities in many different circumstances. 

Drinks (such as the “Jägerbomb”) compound the effects of energy drinks with the negative effects of alcohol. The two together can be lethal. Furthermore, when drinks are being poured behind the bar, it is more difficult for the consumer to predict how much caffeine they have had. 

Many people claim they prefer mixing alcohol with energy drinks because it helps them to stay awake during a party. However, this seems to be one of the primary issues. Once the central nervous system begins to feel exhaustion, consumers think they can override that response. However, the limits naturally put on our bodies should be respected. 

The occasional energy drink will not result in serious health issues. However, they must be used in moderation. There are online calculators (such as Caffeine Informer) that will suggest the average safe amount of caffeine you can consume. It is important to note that if you are more sensitive to caffeine, or have a history of high blood pressure, heart rate, or other health concerns, these calculated numbers may be incorrect. 

Written by Celina Dawdy