In Your Cart: Energy Drinks

11:42 AM, Sep 25, 2013   |    comments
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As school demands ramp up, the days grow shorter and sports seasons kick into high gear, many college students, busy professionals and athletes turn to energy drinks for an added kick to their day. Today's "In Your Cart" segment reviews who drinks these beverages, how much caffeine they contain compared to the recommended limits and what hidden dangers you should be concerned about.

Who Consumes Energy Drinks? Much of the original energy drink advertising targets young males. Their campaigns promoted increased attention, endurance, performance, weight loss and slogans like "gives you wings," "unleashing the beast" and "living life in the fast lane."

According to the Beverage Industry 2012 State of the Industry Report, energy drinks outsold bottled water! The category got a shot in the arm from "natural" energy drinks made from herbs and vitamins in addition to caffeine. The advantage of these newer beverages such as Vitamin Water Connect (50 mg caffeine) and Propel Invigorating (20 mg caffeine) is that they can perk you up without adding too many calories or sugar. These newer lines seek to capture more female consumers who tend to be more weight conscious.

According to the National Institutes of Health, adolescents are the fastest growing population of caffeine users with a 70% increase in the last 30 years. In 2011, 480 non-alcoholic energy drink calls were made to poison control, 50.7% of these were in children <6 years old and 76% were unintentional. Of the 182, caffeinated alcoholic energy drink calls 68% were less than 20 years old. In 2011 there were more than 20,000 emergency room visits linked to energy drink consumption.

How Much Caffeine Do They Contain? Caffeine contents range from a modest 50 mg to an alarming 505 mg per can or bottle according to the National Institute s of Health. I've picked the 3 leading energy drinks and compared them to a Mountain Dew, Starbucks and 5 Hour Energy. If we just compare caffeine, java drinkers consume the most amount of caffeine. However once you add in all of the stimulants such as panax ginseng or guarana containing twice the concentration of caffeine found in content, the story changes.


Sheryl Lozicki is a Registered Dietitian at Mercy Health Saint Mary's and the Director of Nutrition and Wellness.

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