Most of us know that things like soda and energy drinks aren’t super healthy. They’re packed full things caffeine and sugar or artificial sweeteners. But you might not know that energy drinks aren’t just unhealthy. Drinking them can actually be dangerous, even life-threatening.
As energy drinks become increasingly popular, the number of emergency room visits caused by drinking them also rises. And so do the number of deaths, especially among teens and young adults, that doctors are linking to the caffeine in energy drinks.
In 2011, 14-year-old Anais Fournier died after drinking two, 24-ounce Monster drinks within a 24-hour period. The autopsy concluded she died of cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity. In a similar case the next year, Monster drinks we allegedly linked to the death of 19-year-old Alex Morris.
In 2014, 16-year old Lanna Hamann had a heart attack and died after drinking Red Bull all day while vacationing in Mexico. Then in 2017, 16-year-old Davis Cripe died of a caffeine-induced cardiac event causing a probable arrhythmia. This happened after he drank a cafe latte from McDonald, a large Mountain Dew, and a 16-ounce energy drink within a 2-hour time period.
There are just a few examples of the deaths that have been directly tied to energy drinks. Doctors have confirmed many of these links. Other links are based on observations made by friends and family of the deceased.
The Problem With Caffeine
Most deaths associated with energy drinks have to do with caffeine’s effect on the heart. Many energy drinks have about 4 times as much caffeine as is in a typical cup of coffee. The FDA still considers that a safe level of caffeine, but with an important caveat.
The FDA states that 400 milligrams of caffeine a day (or 4-5 cups of coffee) is “not generally associated with dangerous, negative effects.” But that’s for healthy adults – they don’t have a guideline for children. However, “the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the consumption of caffeine and other stimulants by children and adolescents.”
We’re not actually sure how much caffeine is safe for teenagers and young adults. But companies keep marketing caffeine-containing products to young people as if they’re perfectly safe. Adding to this problem is an increasing trend to put caffeine in other foods as well. You can now find caffeine in jelly beans, gum, waffle syrup, and instant oatmeal, among other products. Unless you’re being careful to track all your sources of caffeine it’s very easy to get too much.
Why Are Energy Drinks So Dangerous?
Caffeine isn’t the only danger with energy drinks. Studies show that energy drinks are associated with potentially harmful changes in blood pressure and heart function to a greater degree than could be explained by just the caffeine. The problem lies in the added sugar and each drink’s proprietary “energy blend” that gives the drinks and extra boost. Often, these blends contain stimulants like taurine, guarana, and ginseng.
While those stimulants might be safe on their own, they also hide additional caffeine. You’re not supposed to take them if you’re already getting caffeine from another source. For example, if you were to pick up an Asian ginseng supplement it should have a warning on the label not to take it along with another source of caffeine.
Clearly, it’s time to get away from energy drinks and find something healthy to drink. Good old-fashioned water is an excellent choice. And if you want something with more get-up-and-go, then the blend of natural, high-quality vitamins and nutrients you can get in our mBreakfast powder is the perfect choice. With this drink you’re skipping the dangerously high levels of caffeine and also giving your body the nutrition that it needs to stay healthy and alert. It’s a win-win!