It used to be that we were concerned abou the long-term effects of cigarettes or recreational drug use, but these days, there are more dangers than ever, and some may even appear to be a good idea — but the truth is, we just don't know enough to say what harm may come from their use. Below, we tell you how much is too much.
Although energy drinks are a popular source of caffeine for many people, they aren’t necessarily healthy. There is a lack of testing for overall consumer safety which can be a problem for certain individuals, based on their age, health or medical needs.
Energy drinks can have detrimental effects on long-term health if consumed too often. Certain groups of individuals can be susceptible to the negative effects of energy drinks, especially young adults, pregnant women and individuals with medical conditions.
How Energy Drinks Can Affect the Brain and Body
Because of the link between caffeine and sleep, the brain doesn’t always get the chance to rest properly after consuming caffeine, which can make it harder to perform your best at any task. Caffeine starts to work within as soon as 15 minutes of ingesting it, with some caffeine rushes lasting up to 6 hours.
Caffeine causes a variety of side effects that can affect anyone, such as changes in blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, muscle tremors and even difficulty breathing. Emotional issues, such as anxiety and depression, can be increased when using caffeine. People who find themselves withdrawing from caffeine can experience headaches, constipation and irritability, to name a few symptoms.
The risks energy drinks have on the brain and body have caused U.S. military branches to limit caffeine to no more than 800 milligrams a day.
Too Much Caffeine Can Be Harmful
While consuming high amounts of caffeine can affect anyone, it can have especially adverse side effects in pregnant women, children and those who are sensitive to caffeine or don’t regularly consume it. For example, caffeine in pregnancy can cross the placenta, putting additional stress on the fetus and leading to possible birth defects. Pregnant women are normally advised to have less than 200 mg of caffeine a day. Just 2 cans of Red Bull would put a pregnant woman over the limit, at 222 mg.
Individuals who have heart conditions or are on certain medications can put themselves at risk for an irregular heartbeat. There have also been documented instances of healthy people who have experienced serious health problems after consuming too many energy drinks in one sitting. One such case was a 28-year-old man who had eight energy drinks and within 7 hours and went into cardiac arrest. His body was found to be healthy, but it was determined that he consumed too much caffeine.
Risks for Young People
Before the popularity of energy drinks, it was common for children, teenagers and young athletes to consume water and juice throughout the day or during a sporting event. Now, many of these young people, and sometimes even their parents and coaches, often turn to energy drinks to give them a pick-me-up. The effects of caffeine on teenagers alone can pose issues, such as a higher risk of osteoporosis and sleep disturbances. Moreover, the caffeine can replace nutrient-dense food that young people need and block sleep-inducing chemicals necessary for a good night’s rest. Lack of sleep can have adverse effects on a young person's education, along with their physical and mental well-being.
One idea to combat this trend is to offer alternative fluids, such as water or even Powerade to the young people and athletes in your life. This allows them to replenish liquids and avoid dehydration without the additional energy rush of caffeine.
Having an energy drink might seem like a simple way to get a boost, but it can have serious consequences on your health if used too often. Finding alternative ways to give yourself an energy boost can be a healthier option and will serve your body better in the long run. Rather than reaching for energy drinks, consider drinking water, moving around or having a light carb-packed snack for an extra pick-me-up. These healthier habits will put less strain on the body and deliver nutrients instead of a quick blast of sugar and caffeine.
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