My days have been cray cray recently! Meeting with clients, vendors, fellow chemists and nutritionists have left me on the verge of falling asleep while standing. I get 7 hours of sleep a night and have been trying to focus on eating clean to naturally increase my energy but I still need a little pick me up every so often. Reaching for an energy drink was never on my list of appropriate behaviors. While working as a nutritionist full time I saw first hand the damaging effects of some energy drinks. Mixing it with alcohol is super dangerous. Counting it as real energy and forgoing necessary sleep does insane amounts of damage on the body. Many try to replace proper sleep, a nutritious diet and an active lifestyle with a drink. I don’t support that but sometimes we all need a little pick me up.
Can caffeine be good for us in certain amounts? Should I consume it daily? What do I need to know to consume caffeine but still take care of my body? Well let’s get down to the nitty gritty on the good, the bad and the delicious side of energy drinks.
- Focus and mental clarity
- Caffeine blocks adenosine reception so you feel alert
- Regular coffee drinkers were 80 percent less likely to develop Parkinson’s disease.
- Caffeine increases dopamine in the same way heroine and cocaine do. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that activates the pleasure center in the brain. AKA it gives you false sense of happiness
- Two cups a day reduced subjects’ risk for colon cancer by 20 percent.
- Two cups a day caused an 80 percent drop in the odds of developing cirrhosis.
- Two cups a day cut the risk of developing gallstones in half.
- Jitters, Restlessness, and Nervousness
- Increased heartbeat
- Heart palpitations (cardiac arrhythmia)
- Cardiac arrest
Here is a list of some cases of caffeine overdoses that are easily found on Google
- 19 year old James Stone dies after taking 25 to 30 No Doz pills in 2007. (at least 2.5 grams of caffeine)
- 40 Seagulls die from caffeine overdose in Canada this year from eating used coffee grinds.
- 17 year old Jasmine Willis, a Durham, UK waitress overdosed by drinking 7 double espressos in 2007. She was taken to the hospital, but recovered soon after. (that’s roughly 1.078 grams)
- In the late 1990′s an Australian women, with a heart condition died after consuming a guarana based shot from her local health food store. This product is no longer on the market. (10g/liter, ok that’s just nuts!)
- 2010 a 23 British man from Mansfield, England died after taking to 2 spoonfuls of pure caffeine powder washed down by an energy drink at a party. His death was ruled accidental.
- 2011 Fourteen-year-old Anais Fournier, died after she consumed two 24 ounce Monsters (480mg of caffeine) in a 24 hour period. Cause of death was a heart arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity. There seems to be some conflicting stories as to how much she really consumed and this seems true since 480mg in a 24 hour period isn’t a toxic amount.Update October, 2012: Her parents are suing Monster Energy for wrongful death although the girl did have a known pre-existing heart condition.
- 2012 The FDA is investigating Monster Energy since the energy drink has been linked to five deaths over the past year.
- 2013: According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, energy drink related ER visits have doubled in the last 4 years, however, 42% of these visits involved caffeine in combination with other drugs such as alcohol or other narcotics. src.
- 2013 a New Zealand woman died from cardiac arrhythmia associated with her 10 liter/day Coca-Cola habit. She also smoked 30 cigarettes a day and barely ate. Caffeine was a contributing factor, but the 900-1000mg daily dose wasn’t the only factor. src.
- 2013 A mother is suing Monster Energy for the death of her 19 year old son, Alex Morris, after he died of cardiac arrest. She claims that he drank two 16 ounce Monsters the day before his death and at least two a day for the 3 years proceeding his death. A California Coroner’s office reported that he died from cardiomyopathy and cardiac arrhythmia. src.
- October 2013: John Jackson from the UK dies after eating a whole tin of HERO Energy Mints. Each tin contains 12 mints, so he consumed 984mg of caffeine. He also had cirrhosis of the liver, which prevented him from processing the caffeine properly allowing it to build up in his blood stream to lethal levels. (src.)
- March 2014: A 14 year old boy from Norway was hospitalized with kidney failure after drinking 4 liters of a caffeine-laced energy drink while gaming for 16 hours straight. This would be around 1,280mg of caffeine if he was consuming a “Red Bull” like energy drink. (src.)
The Delicious Review
So caffeine has some good and bad sides. I’d feel comfortable saying that in moderation it’s perfectly safe. What is that magic number though? For healthy adults with no medical issues, it is generally agreed upon that 300mg-400mg of caffeine can be consumed daily without any adverse effects. However, less is better since you never know what reaction your body will have. Currently there are 5 lawsuits that I could find against 5 hour energy for unlawful death of a minor.
Caffeine is found in more than energy drinks. It’s found in supplements, drink powders, coffee, energy bars, pre workout drinks, tea, soda and of course energy drinks. So when it comes to energy drinks keep it less than 80 mg per sitting. The energy that is my go to is free of artificial sweeteners, colors, preservatives and flavors. Steaz Energy drinks are super clean but they still aren’t my perfect choice. They are still really high in caffeine (Check out the Facts here) so I have to space it over a couple of days but not many people want to wait a day to finish their can so I’m still on the hunt to find or develop a can you can feel safe about having every day and maybe even a couple times a day. An energy drink that gets you through the day without any of the crazy side effects. An energy drink that gives you health benefits instead of sucking them right out of you.
The perfect energy has got to be out there or else it has to be made right?
- Arendash, G.W., et al. “Caffeine Protects Alzheimer’s Mice Against Cognitive Impairment and Reduces Brain Beta-Amyloid Production,” Neuroscience. Vol. 142. Page 941-52. 2006.
- Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Caffeine Content of Food and Drugs.” (Oct. 7, 2011) http://www.cspinet.org/new/cafchart.htm
- Chudler, Eric. “Neuroscience for Kids: Caffeine.” Oct. 1, 2011 (Oct. 2, 2011) http://faculty.washington.edu/chudler/caff.html
- Dance, Rosalie A. and Sandefur, James T. “Reading This Could Help You Sleep: Caffeine in Your Body.” Hands on Activities for Algebra at College. 1999. (Oct. 5, 2011) http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/sandefur/handsonmath/downloads/pdf/coff1-s.pdf
- Fredholm, B.B. “Notes on the history of caffeine use.” Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology. Vol. 200. Pages 1-9. 2011.
- Johns Hopkins University, Bayview Medical Center. “Caffeine Independence.” (Oct. 5, 2011) http://www.caffeinedependence.org/caffeine_dependence.html
- Johns Hopkins Medicine. “Caffeine withdrawal recognized as a disorder.” Sept. 29, 2004 (Oct. 2, 2011) http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/press_releases/2004/09_29_04.html
- Kirchheimer, Sid. “Coffee: The new health food?” WebMD.com. January 26, 2004. (Oct. 5, 2011) http://men.webmd.com/features/coffee-new-health-food
- Kovacs, Betty. “Caffeine.” MedicineNet.com 2011 (Oct 2, 2011) http://www.medicinenet.com/caffeine/article.htm
- Lu, Y.P., et al. “Voluntary exercise together with oral caffeine markedly stimulates UVB light-induced apoptosis and decreases tissue fat in SKH-1 mice.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). Vol. 104, no. 31. Page 12936-41. July 31, 2007. (Oct. 5, 2011) http://www.pnas.org/content/104/31/12936.full.pdf+html
- Mayo Clinic Staff. “Caffeine: How much is too much?” March 9, 2011 (Oct. 2, 2011) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/caffeine/NU00600
- Wallace, Benjamin. “The World’s Most Caffeinated Country.” Bloomberg Businessweek. April 29, 2010 (Oct. 6, 2011) http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_19/b4177074225240.htm?campaign_id=widget_topStories