Taylor Hooton Foundation > Hoot’s Corner > General > Energy Drinks: A panacea to health? NOT!
March 26, 2012
Energy Drinks: A panacea to health? NOT!
Wherever we go to speak to young people, we hear talk that “everyone” is taking energy drinks.  They are “safe” supplements . . . . Right?  Not necessarily!
Please read up on the reality about these products BEFORE making the decision to do what everyone else is doing and ingesting these products.

Health Expert's Message to Youth: "Energy (NRG) Does Not Come In A Can! Thinking so can have life-threatening side-effects!"

Contrary to popular belief and what most of the ads and commercials on TV/radio/billboards today are saying, "Energy (NRG) Does NOT Come in a Can!"  I have always preached a "food first and food second" approach to daily nutrition.  For these reasons: 1) it is cost effective; 2) it tastes better; 3) you have more variety; 4) and it is SAFER.  Let's talk about reason #4.  I understand that nutritional supplements have a place in today's world.  It's a monster of an industry.  And to sit here and tell you that I don't use some of them as a PART of my daily nutrition plan would be lying.  But understand that they are just that… supplements!  Meant to "add to" an existing program or plan, not intended to replace or overtake what you are already doing.

According to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, nutritional and dietary supplements do not have to go through FDA compliance procedures to get their products on store shelves.  This means that it is possible that what is in the label is not always in the can/packaging.  And often doses of ingredients are not standardized from lot to lot of the same product.  This should perk up your antennas.

In the case of NRG drinks, most all of the energy comes from stimulants (natural, herbal and chemical forms).  Caffeine is the most popular stimulant used.  In safe ranges (1.4 - 2.7 mg/lb. of bodyweight for an adult), caffeine can safely and effectively enhance performance.  Recommended amount of caffeine per day is 300mg.  That is equivalent to 3 cups of fresh brewed coffee. Because NRG Drinks fall under the category of "nutritional supplements," they can exceed the 71mg of caffeine per 12 oz. limit set by the FDA for soda drinks.  There are certain NRG drinks and gourmet coffees with 400-600mg of Caffeine per one 12 oz. serving!  That's just too much stimulant for the heart to take at any one time and, when combined with high intensity exercise in extreme temperatures, it can be fatal.

Overdosing on caffeine and other stimulants can lead to a condition known as "caffeine intoxication (C.I.)."  C.I. will bring on symptoms such as nervousness, heart irregularities (rapid heartbeat), insomnia, high blood pressure, anxiety, and other neurological symptoms.  How can anyone be expected to optimally perform on or off the field when you have any one or several of the C.I. symptoms?

Watch this video  -  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I7yWGJmhjmw&feature=player_embedded  -  Energy Drink Executive's message to 12 year old who experienced caffeine toxicity: "You should have known better."

In today's world where technological advancements have enabled us to get information faster and faster and from all corners of the world, one would think that we would have more time to spend on self-improvements.  Time spent with family and friends; time to engage in an activity or exercises of choice; time to relax, read a book, and/or watch a movie; time to take a nap; time to EAT breakfast in the morning.   For the past few months I have been presented with an opportunity to engage with, consult with, and train with many student athletes and active adults of all ages.  Part of each consultation before we start our training covers their current nutrition habits.  Most people today are not eating breakfast!  And that is a major "no-no" in my book.

So I ask, "How can you expect your high performance engine to run with no premium fuel in the tank?"  The answer I am getting in return is, "Well I grab an energy drink on the way to school/work . . ."  Uhggg, that is like nails on the chalkboard to my ears.  This industry needs to be reigned in, because it is growing at an alarming rate.

The NRG drink industry pulled in $9 Billion last year in the United States alone.  People of all ages are consumers.  A study from the AAP Journal of Pediatrics states that 30-50% of adolescents are NRG drink users.  I could send my 7-year-old son into the convenience store down the street, and he could purchase any 1 of a variety of the NRG drinks sold.  There are no laws to prevent this from happening.  This concerns me and it should concern you, and if you that does not make you uncomfortable, just keep reading.

Another study published by the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) states that in the past 10 years, there has been a 50% increase in strokes for children age 5 years to adult's age 44 years.  And know that obesity numbers have held steady over the past decade according to the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA).  What is the reason?  NRG drink companies market to the youth ages (ads and banners at most sporting events) as well as the adults (used as mixers for alcoholic drinks in many bars/nightclubs which are very dangerous - mixing a stimulant with a depressant).

Though some countries (Norway, Uruguay, and Denmark) have taken a stance by banning NRG drinks, I do believe that they are here to stay in the United States.  We the people need to be well rested, well fueled, and well hydrated for optimal energy and performance. Supplement and nutritional beverages should have a beneficial, not negative, effect on the body. Examine energy drinks carefully (again, the industry makes this part difficult to do) and think before you buy.  Ask yourself if there is anything about your current drinking, sleeping, eating habits and other lifestyle patterns that you can improve before trying an NRG drink?  Seek an expert's opinion, and please don't rely on the person behind the counter to give you an educated opinion on any NRG drink or nutritional/dietary supplement that you are inquiring about.  They are looking for the sale and have no vested interest in your wellbeing.  Spend your dollars wisely, and invest in real food for energy.  Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fats are where it's at!  Stimulants affect the heart!

Kudos to you for gathering knowledge, now please share it.  Our goal should be to demand accountability within this industry, as we have with the tobacco giants.  As consumers we have the right to be able to make informed decisions about these products and potential side affects. The heart is our #1 muscle in the body and since we only have one, we need to take care of it.

------------------------ Frank Velasquez is the owner REV Sports Rehab and Athletic Development in Pittsburg, PA.  As a speaker and consultant within Global Ascension Productions, Frank specializes in messages of health and wellness.