The dangers of energy drinks

By Leah Kuntz — Hyped up over energy drinks? Exciting enough as it is to get that sudden increase in vitality, it may actually be dangerous to do so. Many people do not know what they are really drinking; they are unaware of all of the chemicals they are gulping down.

Products like Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, and various other energy drinks have become increasingly popular over the past few years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have even published the statistic that 31% of Americans ages 12-17 and 34% ages 18-24 are downing energy drinks. These provide an increase in energy levels, which many younger people believe they need. But while they are receiving the oomph they desire to get them through the day, they are also consuming a lot of chemicals too. Chemicals like Niacin, Ginseng, and large quantities of caffeine are also present in energy beverages. And while none of those chemicals are going to instantaneously kill someone, they do not always have the best effects on the human body.

Niacin is an organic compound that is usually used to help treat cholesterol problems. And though it is useful then, taking too much of it can be hurtful. It can cause vomiting, flushing of skin, increasing of blood sugar levels, and abnormal liver functions. It is usually one of the main chemical components in energy drinks.

Ginseng is a plant that is used to reduce the levels of sugar glucose in blood for those with type two diabetes. Some of its side effects include a rapid heartbeat, mental disturbances, insomnia, and digestive problems. It is also found in very many energy drinks.

But the main element to energy drinks is caffeine. Caffeine is an addictive chemical and can cause various unfortunate side effects if consumed excessively. A drink like Monster has 160 mg of caffeine in a 16 oz serving. The Center for Science in the Public Interest says that in an average brewed cup of coffee, there are only 133 mg of caffeine. The average safe amount of caffeine for an average human to consume is 300 mg of caffeine. With one energy drink, half of the safe amount of caffeine has been consumed.

Having one of energy drinks every once in a while is fairly safe. Recently, however there have been teenagers who have been consuming two to three energy drinks in one day. This is very dangerous  for young people. It can lead to heart problems, liver toxicity, and dehydration. According to  The Huffington Post, there have been approximately five deaths in recent years due to the caffeine toxicity after consuming two or more energy drinks in a 24 hour period. So while it alright to have a quick shot of caffeine every so often, constantly consuming energy drink products may not be the best of ideas.

[Updated Aug. 7, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]