Energy drinks consumption has become increasingly popular during RECENT years, especially among adolescents and young adults. The energy drink industry increased from 3.5 billion dollar in 2007 to 9 billion in 2012. The per capital consumption of energy drinks in 2010 was 41.1 mL daily.

Energy drinks are not to be confused with sports drinks. Energy drinks are soft drinks containing ingredients, such as caffeine, designed to boost energy and offer metabolic or central nervous system stimulation, whereas sports drinks do not contain caffeine. 

Among the most common uses of energy drinks are: athletic performance, study attention and job performance. The main ingredient is caffeine; however, there are added ingredients also containing caffeine, such as Guarana (3-5 g provides 250 mg of caffeine), Ginseng, Taurine, Tyramine, Synerphrine, Yerba Mate and Yohimbine. Sugar is also a important ingredient adding significant calories to the drinks. As much as 35g of sugar can be found in a 8oz can, exceeding the maximum recommended daily intake of sugar by 2 to 3 times. This ingredient can produce rapid energy boost, known as “Sugar High” followed by a fast decline, called “Crash Mode”.

A current problem with energy drinks is the incidence of consumption of energy drinks mixed with alcohol. This combination produces the underestimation of levels of intoxication with potential lethal consequences. Motor incoordination, breath alcohol concentration, and impairment of visual reaction time continue to persist even with the perception of lower levels.

Today, even though there is little research on the effects of energy drinks on the elderly, there is an astonishing number of advertising for energy drink consumption among the elderly population.  

People that consume energy drinks in a regular basis can develop tolerance to the components and ingredients, which in consequence will require more of these substances in order to function with the same effects and maintain performance. Serious long-term health consequences, such as seizures, stroke and even death have been reported. There is also the risk to develop vitamin toxicity and drug and food interaction, sleep depravation, anxiety, confusion, hallucinations, GI disturbances, and myocardial infarction. Also, high sugar consumption can lead to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, CVD, and high cholesterol levels. Energy drinks have counted for 20,000 ER visits in 2012. 

So why not obtain energy the natural way? Exercise regularly, drink plenty of water throughout the day, eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and lean proteins, snack on healthy choices and don’t forget to try good, old fashioned sleep!