The consumption of energy drinks is a growing market. They're known to offer an extra boost and researchers suggest they could also improve your mood, reduce mental fatigue and increase reaction time. But at what cost are you willing to do all of that, for your health?
They’re just about everywhere – canned beverages and shots that are “guaranteed” to give you that extra boost of energy to start your day and keep you going.
"Sometimes I don’t get my extras coffee in the morning, so I just got to an energy drink for that little short boost. It gets me through the day," Alex Manning said.
Still others, others avoid them.
"I have seen people that are twitchy from taking energy pills and energy drinks," Christopher Gibson said. "It’s these youngsters coming into these convenience store and they’re buying one every time they come in. they’re probably taking in 2, 3 or 4 a day and that’s probably where the line needs to be drawn."
With dozens of flavors to choose from, are these “promised” cans of energy good for you? I went to a professional to answer that question comparing a few brands.
"Wow!" That has 316 mg of caffeine per bottle. Of course they have all the flavors," Dr. Lynn Batten said as she read the ingredients off an energy drink can.
Dr. Batten is a Pediatric Cardiology Specialist in Mobile and has been practicing for 19 years. She says energy drinks and the dangers they pose can be very tricky and risky.
"It was on my radar years ago. I have a lot of patients that come in with palpitations, dizziness, shakiness and when we start talking to them and asking how much caffeine they drink, ‘oh, I have four caffeinated drinks a day…’" Dr. Batten said. "I mean they have nothing but caffeine all day. They don’t realize what caffeine does to them."
Dr. Batten says the fact energy drinks are not FDA approved, should be a red flag for most.
"They have a couple of loop holes. They could be regulated if they were classified as soft drinks, but you have so many that classify themselves as diet supplements," Dr. Batten said. "Soft drinks are regulated. They can only have 71 mg of caffeine per oz, but a lot of these things call themselves diet supplements, so they’re not regulated like that."
D'Adra Lambert says she was one of those people who had to learn the risk of too much caffeine in a short amount of time the hard way from her family doctor.
"Experiencing pain down in my lower side, having cramps, feeling groggy and just not like myself. Just a pain that I’ve never felt before. It was just a different feeling," Lambert said. "My doctor hinted that the energy drinks and staking it up for a long time can build up and cause it."
According to health professionals, safe limits of caffeine consumption are still being studied, but current data suggest a limit of 400mg of caffeine per day is generally considered safe for most healthy people. But, the words 'per day' is important to remember. Looking at the nutritional facts on the back of a few cans, here’s a caffeine breakdown of some of the most popular brands:
Caffeine levels per serving ranged from about 6 milligrams to 300 milligrams.
5-hour energy Decaf with only 6 milligrams, Monster with 92 milligrams, NOS High Performance with 221 and the most I found – BANG with 300 milligrams of caffeine per can.
According to the CDC, in 2007, 1,145 adolescents aged 12 to 17 went to the emergency room for an energy drink related emergency. In 2011, that number climbed up to 1,499, a more than 30% percent increase. A number Dr. Batten says should be of concern for frequent energy drinkers.
"Some of those ingredients they’ve shown that they make your blood vessels narrow and they restrict your blood flow and that’s most important to the heart," Dr. Batten said. "So, if you’re restricting blood flow to your heart muscle and you just exercised or you’re drinking it before you exercise, that’s going to cause a cardiac arrest right there."
If you just have to have an energy drink, Dr. Batten says drink responsibly. She says they're not meant to be over consumed or stacked.
"For example, don't have multiple energy drinks, on top of cups of coffee and, or soda," she explained. "Bottom line is, just don't over do it and be aware of what you're really taking in."
Dr. Batten says a quick and natural recipe for energy is time management, proper rest, diet and exercise. She says if you absolutely have to pop open a can of energy, it's best to consult your doctor.
FOX10 News made several attempts to contact the mentioned brands to ask about their caffeine levels and even some court cases as it relates to alleged health issues, but never heard back.