In order for human body to function properly, it needs fluids along with food.
Therefore, to maintain the hydration levels, we consume beverages.
Carbonated or non-carbonated beverages have dominated the world market and their use has increased over the years.
Energy drinks that can be carbonated or non-carbonated are considered valuable for calming our minds and body.
The very title ‘energy’ claims to provide an instant energy boost to the human body.
Point to Ponder
But the point worth considering is, do they contain healthy nutrients?
Can sapiens called human body digest nutrients present in energy drinks?
Is the amount of particular nutrients labeled on package of energy drinks real?
There are some of the many questions that may arise in our mind and we need to know the prospects and possible solutions of related problems.
The purpose of this topic is to enlighten consumers whether these energy drinks contain useful nutrients at the optimum level needed by the human body or not.
Reasons of Consumption
In Pakistan, various surveys have been conducted that are mainly focused on young people, their opinion and consumption rate.
Most consumers fall into the age group of 18 to 25 years. In one such cross-sectional survey conducted in 2012 across Pakistan.
It has been found that men consume energy drinks to a large extent compared to female counterparts.
The reason for consumption is summarized as, energy drinks help students stay focused longer, reduce sleep hours, so they have more time on hand.
It keeps our mind alert, improves endurance and helps improve performance during trips.
Another reason that, although not positive, but relates to the fact that the human body becomes addicted to such drinks.
Energy Drink Forensic
Ingredients/nutrients vary in different energy drinks.
Caffeine is most commonly present in all energy drinks, the plant extract of the guarana plant, taurine (amino acid) and sugar as carbohydrate and vitamins.
Caffeine is a remedy drug present in natural herbs like tree leaves, seeds and beans of coffee the plant. It helps boost energy and keeps your mind constant.
The recommended intake of caffeine is 400 mg for an adult daily, Monster energy drink and Red Bull contains caffeine 160mg/500ml and 80mg/250ml respectively.
Taurine was initially derived from bull semen, but is now also produced synthetically.
It is an amino acid used in energy drinks like red bull monster, rock star energy drink etc.
The dose of Taurine present in energy drinks is 1 g while the daily recommendation for Taurine intake is 2000 mg per day.
Sugar is basically carbohydrate that makes up the main part of these drinks.
Excessive sugar intake easily accumulates calories which is not good for health.
Sting berry blast contains 37.5 g while red bull contains 27.5g per 250 ml serving.
The recommended daily intake of sugar is 30g per day for adults.
Vitamins are water soluble nutrients such as niacin, vitamin B12, B6, folic acid etc.
These vitamins are important for the proper functioning of the human body, for example vitamin B12 helps in the formation of red blood cells and DNA structure.
Thus, vitamins are very useful to be present in energy drinks.
Red bull and monster energy drink contain 4.8 mcg and 6cmg vitamin B12 respectively. Although, the daily recommended intake is 6mcg/day.
Energy Drinks Consumption in Different Age Groups
1. Children and Teenagers
Children under the age of 15 should not consume energy drinks because their body and organs are still developing.
Likewise, teenagers also need to avoid them as much as possible and get good night’s sleep to stay fit and healthy.
Teenagers and children should avoid energy drinks because;
- Caffeine and other ingredients present in energy drinks raise their blood pressure and increase blood sugar level
- Caffeine disrupts sleeping patterns
Research states that moderate consumption is not harmful to adults.
Although excessive amounts of caffeine consumption can cause nervousness, headache, diarrhea and stomach problems.
Positive and Negative Impact of Energy Drinks
Every coin has two sides. Same is the case with these drinks
Pros of Energy Drinks
- Intake of Caffeine within recommended rate provide the body with energy in terms of alertness of mind, reduces sleeps.
- Vitamins play a key role in energy metabolism, they are soluble in water, so the body does not absorb them and can easily flyout of your body without any toxicity.
- Vitamin B6 helps to regenerate cell, build a healthy immune system and the proper functioning of the nervous system.
- Vitamin B12 is the main compound that builds red blood cells because it produces hemoglobin that carries oxygen and carbon dioxide.
- Vitamins are also a major source of the development of a genetic factor known as ‘DNA’.
Cons of Energy Drinks
- They contain excessive caffeine will lead to health problems. Caffeine combines with sugar (which is also in high amount in such drinks) resulting in high levels of blood sugar level.
- Excessive sugar increases the amounts of calories and ultimately promotes weight gain.
- Excessive sugar content will lead to cardiovascular diseases and increase blood pressure.
- Intake of energy drinks more than moderate leads to sleep deprivation because caffeine in causes a reduction in sleep hours.
- Over time, human body becomes addicted to such drinks as it is initially, so withdrawal is not easy. As withdrawal causes headache, lethargy, irritation, and loss of concentration.
So for, it is obvious that balance is key and awareness in people of all ages is vital.
Many educated bodies are not even aware of the true use of energy drinks.
You need to know your body requirement in terms of allergens, because many people are allergic to certain nutrients.
Keep teenagers and children away from energy drinks. Adults should take according to the needs of their body.
Written by Saima Baig, BSc. (Hons.) Agriculture (Food Technology), Institute of Food and Nutritional Sciences, PMAS Arid-Agriculture University Rawalpindi.