Energy shots are a more concentrated form of energy drink, often sold in smaller containers right next to their larger counterparts. They are the second most popular dietary supplement for American teenagers and young adults. Yet, they contain extreme amounts of caffeine, are bad for your health, and could cause safety hazards.
Caffeine content of energy shots
Research shows that males between 18 and 34 drink more energy drinks than any other group of people, and almost 33% of teenagers between 12 and 17 consume them on a regular basis. Why are such unhealthy drinks so popular? The high caffeine content of energy shots and energy drinks keeps people coming back for more.
Energy shots are typically sold in 2 or 2.5 ounce bottles and have 113 to 200 mg of caffeine. To put this in perspective, a normal-sized 12 ounce can of cola has 35 mg of caffeine.
Sugar is another main ingredient in energy beverages. Some contain other additives that are supposed to raise energy levels and awareness, like B vitamins, ginseng, and guarana. There are such large amounts of stimulants in energy drinks that they are not only unhealthy, but they are actually harmful.
You might think that checking the label will protect you from taking in too much caffeine, but that’s not foolproof. Guarana is a plant from South America that offers an extremely powerful form of caffeine. A single gram of guaranine is equal to 40-80 mg of caffeine, but because it’s an additive its caffeine content usually isn’t stated on the label.
Because energy shots aren’t regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration, the caffeine content isn’t always listed under nutrition facts. Companies can claim that those ingredients are part of a secret blend without listing them out.
The ingredients that make up your typical energy shot claim to increase alertness and performance, but there’s little scientific evidence to back this up. On top of this, there isn’t a lot of regulation surrounding what goes into these drinks and how they are marketed towards young people.
Trials on some energy beverages do show that after drinking one of these highly caffeinated drinks it’s possible to become more alert, less tired, and more physically energized. However, there are many possible negative health effects including:
- Higher stress levels
- Increased aggression
- Alcohol and/or cigarette abuse
- Increased blood pressure
- Difficulty sleeping well
- Stomach pain and irritation
- Fragile mental health
- Problems with metabolism, kidneys, or teeth
Studies show that if you consume drinks high in sugar, your chances of gaining weight or developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or gout increase.
When you drink too much caffeine, you’re at high risk of health problems. Drinking multiple energy shots in a day, for example, can lead to:
- Irregular heartbeat and other heart problems
- Cardiac arrest
The long-term effects of drinking energy shots daily are unknown. This gray area in safety should be enough to keep you from relying on energy drinks on a regular basis.
Safety hazards of energy drinks
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2007 showed that 1,145 teenagers between 12 and 17 made a trip to the emergency room for an emergency related to energy drink consumption. Four years later, that number had increased to 1,499. There’s evidence that drinking energy beverages is linked to risk-seeking behaviors and increased alcohol consumption.
In recent years, it’s become popular to mix binge drinking with energy drinks. This combination usually results in drinking more alcohol than if you were to drink alcohol by itself. The effects of energy shots can cover up typical symptoms of being under the influence of alcohol. The cover-up makes drinkers think they can drink even more. This can cause cardiovascular, psychological, or neurological trauma, or even death.
People who mix alcohol and energy beverages are four times more likely to try to drive home than those who only drink alcohol. Adolescent brain damage is also linked to this combination.
Energy shots review
An energy shot here and there won’t cause long-term health issues, but it’s better for your mind and body if you avoid energy shots completely. Choose water, sports drinks, or another healthier alternative if you need to quench your thirst.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: "Energy Drinks."
Sutter Health: "Risks of Energy Drinks."
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