The concern about the safety of energy drinks continue to grow as the reported deaths potentially linked to consumption of 5-Hour Energy Drink and Monster Energy Drink are released from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Additionally, the federal government and the New York Attorney General’s office are investigating the claims.
To date there have been 13 reported deaths potentially linked to 5-Hour Energy Drink and 33 reported hospitalizations with symptoms including increased blood pressure and abnormal heart rate. Yet, the concerns are not isolated to just 5-Hour Energy Drinks, there have been 5 reported deaths related to Monster Energy drinks and 35 hospitalizations and 13 reported hospitalizations related to Rockstar Energy Drink. It is important to note, the deaths and hospitalizations are reported to the Center for Food Safety Adverse Event Reporting System (CAERS) which is a surveillance system and some of the reported information cannot be verified for accuracy.
When it comes to caffeine, the most widely consumed central nervous system stimulant, some maybe okay and definitely, more is not better: Although health experts vary with the recommended ‘safe’ amount of caffeine to consume, generally the equivalent of one to two cups (8-ounce cups) of coffee which totals about 260 mg of caffeine, is considered a safe daily amount to consume for adults.
Yet when it comes to energy drinks, coffee and teas, it can be difficult to know exactly how much caffeine you are having. Plus with energy drinks, they are not regulated as far as the contents of caffeine and the other additives which often include b-vitamins, taurine and ginseng. For example, 2 fluid ounces of 5-Hour Energy Drink has 2000% (40 mg or 0.04 grams) of the daily value for vitamin B6, which you are likely are getting other sources and possibly other supplements.
Caffeine facts: Once caffeine is ingested it is absorbed by the body quickly, after about 45-minutes you can feel the effects of caffeine. In the body, caffeine is mainly processed by the liver and after about five to seven hours, half of the caffeine is eliminated from the body. This is important to note because if you have coffee in the morning and then add in an energy drink in the afternoon, your body is still processing the caffeine from your morning coffee and if you have no idea how much caffeine is in what you are drinking you could quickly go over 260 mg of caffeine in a hurry. The bottom-line, think twice before you reach for a jolt from an energy drink and reevaluate your overall caffeine intake..
Know much caffeine you are having: Check out caffeine content apps or Web sites to use as a reference as to how much caffeine are in products you routinely reach for. This can help you at least establish a baseline for how much you are having from the various products you choose on a routine basis.
Starbucks Coffee (16 fl oz): 320 mg caffeine
5-hour energy (1.93 fl oz): 207 mg caffeine
Dunkin Donuts regular (16 fl oz): 203 mg caffeine
Starbucks Latte (16 fl oz): 150 mg caffeine
Coffee, brewed (8 fl oz): 133 mg caffeine
Red Bull Energy Shot (2 fl oz): 80 mg caffeine
Red Bull (8 fl oz): 80 mg caffeine
Tea (8 fl oz): 53 mg caffeine
Source: CSPI Caffeine Chart http://www.cspinet.org/new/cafchart.htm
FDA Report: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/AboutFDA/CentersOffices/OfficeofFoods/CFSAN/CFSANFOIAElectronicReadingRoom/UCM328270.pdf
Caffeinated Drink Cited in Reports of 13 deaths: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/15/business/5-hour-energy-is-cited-in-13-death-reports.html?_r=1&
Caffeine and the central Nervous System: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1356551
Caffeine and Heart Disease: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Caffeine-and-Heart-Disease_UCM_305888_Article.jsp
Vitamin B-6 Fact Sheet: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/