IN one of my sessions last week at a tertiary institution, the love of energy drink consumption was expressed especially during this time as they prepare for their examinations.
This tradition exposed by scholars is very dangerous as they seemed unaware of the dangers and effects of the energy drink and what was the right energy drink or right quantities they should take as some expressed that they could take four to six cans a day as they prepared for their examinations.
Caffeine is commonly used in today’s society to get more energy or to feel more alert. While coffee has been around for hundreds of years and is still the most common caffeinated drink in the world, energy drinks have been gaining in popularity over the past few decades.
The first energy drink was created in 1927 to serve as an energy source for cold and flu patients. The drink was called Lucozade and the 1983 version of the drink only had 46mg of caffeine in it. The modern energy drink we are used to today was not created until 1987 when Redbull was born from a similar energy drink found in Thailand. Redbull was first introduced into the United States in 1997 and energy drink consumption has been increasing ever since.
Overconsumption of caffeine and other energy producing ingredients found in energy drinks such as taurine can lead to health issues. In a study published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, emergency room visits due to energy drinks doubled from 10 000 visits in 2007 to over 20 000 visits in 2011. Fifty eight percent of the visits resulted from energy drinks only and the other 42 percent were with a combination of other drugs such as prescription pills or alcohol. Another study focused on cases that involved heart abnormalities like irregular heartbeat, while some documented neurological problems like seizures.
Caffeine and taurine, both common energy drink ingredients, intensify each other’s effects. That may cause calcium to build up in the heart cells, which can cause those vessels to constrict. Many experts believe daily caffeine consumption is perfectly fine for healthy adults, that up to 200mg a day of caffeine appears safe for most individuals.
Other considerations before drinking energy drinks
While the levels of the above energy drinks are well under the 200mg mark, there are other considerations you must take into account. Know the content of caffeine from other sources such as coffee or soda drinks that you may be drinking during the day. Know your limit when it comes to caffeine. Some people are more sensitive to it than others. Consider what kind of work you will be doing. Intense labour work can already be putting a strain on your heart and body before adding in an energy drink.
- Mthandazo Ndlovu is an accredited drug prevention and rehabilitation specialist, addictions counsellor, adolescent counsellor, professional counsellor. For more information and help call or whatsapp +263772399734 or email [email protected]