Caffeine is one of the most widely used (and abused) drugs in the world. A recent study has taken energy drinks to task for the potential harm they may cause in the short and long term. Currently, the energy drink market is ballooning. Marketed as “functional beverages” like sports drinks or nutraceuticals, the energy drink industry has grown exponentially over the past two decades reaching nearly $10 billion in annual sales in the U.S. alone. The target market is generally teenagers and young adults.
Research suggests moderate caffeine intake of up to 400 mg/day is considered safe, possibly even beneficial, but energy drinks often contain many other non-nutritive ingredients such as corn syrup, processed sugar, and artificial sweeteners. A typical can of energy drink contains a whopping 54 grams of sugar! Sugar consumption, of course, has been linked by the World Health Organization to wellness issues and health complications.
Many people choose to drink energy drinks for a mental boost. There is some research that suggests that energy drinks subjectively improve alertness and fight off fatigue. This is primarily due to the action of the caffeine itself though. Muscle strength and endurance seemed to be moderately improved with some users based on a meta-review of the literature.
With all that said, the potential negative health effects, both in the short and long term, may make regular consumption of energy drinks not worth the temporary gains they provide. Some other interesting findings of the negative consequences of energy drinks may surprise you.
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