The consumption of energy drinks, the so-called “energetic”, has several purposes. The commercialization of this product corresponds to about 1% of the sales of non-alcoholic beverages in the world. A study published in the journal
estimated that the consumption of energy drinks among adolescents and adults exceeds 4 liters during the month. Thus, because they present large amounts of caffeine and other stimulant compounds, the question arises: Is too much caffeine in energy drinks a health risk? That’s what we’ll see next.
Composition of energy drinks
Initially, the most traditional composition of this type of drink is: caffeine, taurine and D-glucuronolactone. These compounds are present in beverages in different proportions. In addition to these, in some types, there is also the addition of L-carnitine and vitamins, mainly of the B complex.
Added to this, the amount of caffeine is around 15 and 55 mg per 100 mL, 2,400 mg/L of D-glucuronolactone and 4,000 mg/L of taurine on average. Therefore, the canned or bottled versions have amounts greater than 100 mL which facilitates the excessive caffeine consumption, requiring only 2 cans for the recommendation values to be exceeded.
Is caffeine in energy drinks a health risk?
As the main negative consequences on health, the exorbitant consumption of energy drinks with high caffeine content are related to high blood pressure levels, nervous hyperstimulation, cardiovascular complications, decreased bone mineral density and impaired psychic well-being.
In addition, the exacerbated recurrent consumption of energy drinks is associated with insomnia, impulsivity, nervousness, even the development of anxiety. Such behaviors are driven when there is a combination in the consumption of energy drinks with alcohol, an association that confers health risks.
Action of caffeine on the body
Caffeine is an alkaloid compound (1,3,7-trimethylxanthine) widely consumed. As for its functions, it acts on the central nervous system as an antagonist of adenosine receptors (A1, A2A and A2B) promoting a state of arousal making the individual more alert. In addition, caffeine also acts on the respiratory, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, in the latter, interacts with the A1 receptor and inhibits the action of phosphodiesterase promoting smooth muscle relaxation elevating natriuresis and diuresis.
The consumption of caffeine in the recommended daily doses is safe and attested by several organizations such as the WHO that recommends the intake of 200 mg per day of caffeine. Therefore, the potential health risks occur when values between 200 and 400 mg/day are exceeded constantly.
Clinical Practice: Is caffeine in energy drinks a health risk?
Thus, the consumption of caffeine-rich energy drinks should be punctual and moderate., not exceeding the recommended values. It is mainly indicated for sports practices and for improvement of mental performance. In addition, in a practical way pay attention to the Caffeine content printed on the product label is a measure that should be encouraged in order to promote conscious consumption by end consumers to avoid health risks and complications.
Read more about the topic on the Science Play portal: Creatine and caffeine: does one get in the way of the other?
Article: Content of caffeine, D-glucuronolactone and taurine in energy drinks: Rubio C, Cámara M, Giner RM, González-Muñoz MJ, López-García E, Morales FJ, Moreno-Arribas MV, Portillo MP, Bethencourt E. Content of caffeine, D-glucuronolactone and taurine in energy drinks: exposure and risk assessment.
. 2022; 14(23):5103. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14235103
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