The Dangers of Energy Drinks

By Tod Cooperman, MD President, ConsumerLab.com ConsumerLab.com is offering a 24-hour free pass to Dr. Oz viewers. Visit www.ConsumerLab.com/DoctorOz now and get immediate access to ConsumerLab.com’s unbiased testing of energy drinks and B vitamin supplements, and two other popular reviews of fish oil and ginseng supplements.

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Energy drinks can be risky. It is important that you understand what is actually in these products because their labels typically don’t tell you. Energy drinks are cited as a possible cause of thousands of emergency room visits each year, and there are reports of at least 11 deaths among people who drank 5-Hour Energy – although we don’t know more about the cases. And five deaths have been associated with the use of Monster energy drinks.

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How Much Caffeine?

 

Although known as “energy drinks,” many of these products don’t provide any real energy, as you would get from carbohydrates, for example. Instead they provide a stimulant – caffeine. Labels typically don’t tell you exactly how much caffeine is in a product. At ConsumerLab.com, we recently tested caffeine levels in three popular energy drinks. We found that a 5-ounce bottle of Monster Energy M-3 Super Concentrate contained 206 mg of caffeine and 5-Hour Energy contained about the same amount but in just 2 ounces, meaning that 5-Hour Energy is even more concentrated than Monster. In comparison, a full 8-ounce cup of regular brewed coffee has just 95 milligrams of caffeine. Ounce-for-ounce, the caffeine in 5-Hour Energy is 9 times as concentrated as in coffee.

Over the course of a full day, these amounts, and even up to 300 mg of caffeine can be fine. You’d be drinking about 3 cups of coffee, sipping here and there, so you’re getting a gradual rise in caffeine as well as eliminating some of it. The problem with the shot is that you are getting over two-thirds of that daily amount all at once, which can be a jolt to the system. And since it’s such a small amount of liquid, you may be inclined to drink more than one bottle. Drink two little bottles and you’ve just downed 415 mg of caffeine.

Tod Cooperman, MD

Article written by Tod Cooperman, MD
President, ConsumerLab.com