Energy Drinks and Alcohol

There have been several reports on the effects of energy drinks that have been mixed with alcohol.

In this recent article, 10 of the 13 studies showed that there was a greater risk of harm when alcohol was mixed with energy drinks compared to alcohol alone.

The researchers also found that there was a greater risk of falls and violence.

“The increased risk of injury related to alcohol and energy drinks (AmED use) is thought to be due to both increased alcohol consumption and a diminished sense of perceived intoxication.”

Mixing energy drinks with alcohol is thought to increase the ability to drink more. The caffeine can keep you awake for longer periods of time and numb the “drunk” feeling.

When one is drinking alcohol you will eventually get to a point where you are tired. Energy drinks raise this threshold.

You are ultimately able to drink more alcohol when combining it with energy drinks, as a result, one may take additional risks as alcohol diminishes our normal inhibition that helps keep us safe.

“There has been a trend in recent years toward increased use of alcohol mixed with energy drinks (AmED) across North America.”

Common drinks include Redbull and vodka and liquor stores also carry premixed drinks.

Th authors agree that additional research is needed in this field but preliminary studies show the need to increase the awareness of mixing energy drinks with alcohol.

These findings were published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

What are energy drinks?

According to UCDavis

“The term “energy drinks” refers to beverages that contain caffeine in combination with other ingredients such as taurine, guarana, and B vitamins, and that claims to provide its consumers with extra energy This term was created by companies in the beverage industry (1) and is not recognized by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA.”

“This term was created by companies in the beverage industry  and is not recognized by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).”

How popular are energy drinks?

According to the National Institute of Health, “Next to multivitamins, energy drinks are the most popular dietary supplement consumed by American teens and young adults.”

“Males between the ages of 18 and 34 years consume the most energy drinks, and almost one-third of teens between 12 and 17 years drink them regularly.” There are many popular energy drinks that people are buying, for example some people use g fuel as their drink of choice.

How common is alcohol mixed with energy drinks?

According to the NIH,”About 25 percent of college students consume alcohol with energy drinks, and they binge-drink significantly more often than students who don’t mix them.”

“About 25 percent of college students consume alcohol with energy drinks, and they binge-drink significantly more often than students who don’t mix them.”

“Between 2007 and 2011, the overall number of energy drink related visits to emergency departments doubled, with the most significant increase (279 percent) in people aged 40 and older.”

Why do people consume energy drinks?

People use sports drinks to replace water and electrolytes lost through sweating after an activity.

Sports drinks can also restore carbohydrate that the body uses during activity. Sports drinks often contain carbohydrate in the form of sugar.

Ingredients in energy drinks

Caffeine in energy drinks

Caffeine is usually the most common ingredient in energy drinks.

There can be as much as 500 mg of caffeine in one energy drink can which is similar to 5 cups of coffee.

Large amounts of caffeine may cause irregular heart rhythm, as well as an increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

Stomach upset and diarrhea can also occur.

Caffeine withdrawal occurs when you suddenly stop taking caffeine or significantly lower the amount you are taking.  Headaches, tiredness, and difficulty concentrating are common. Caffeine can make it difficult to sleep which may fuel the need to have more energy drinks.

Sugar  in energy drinks

Energy drinks are usually high in sugar which is not good for your teeth.

Sugar adds calories making dieting difficult.

Guarana in energy drinks

Guarana plant is found in the Amazon, their seeds contain caffeine.

This ingredient adds additional caffeine to a sports drink increasing the risk of heart palpitations.

Ginseng in energy drinks

“There have been many studies of Asian ginseng in people, but few have been high quality. Therefore, our understanding of Asian ginseng’s health effects is limited.” NIH

Yohimbe in energy drinks

“Yohimbe has been associated with heart attacks and seizures”. NIH

Carnitine in energy drinks

“twenty years of research finds no consistent evidence that carnitine supplements can improve exercise or physical performance in healthy subjects” NIH

Bitter orange in energy drinks

According to the NIH,

“Bitter orange, used in some weight-loss products, contains synephrine, which is similar to the main chemical in the herb ephedra. Ephedra is banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because it raises blood pressure and is linked to heart attack and stroke.”

“The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) placed synephrine (bitter orange) on its current list of banned drugs.”

Who regulates energy drinks

Energy drinks are classified as dietary supplements, not food.

The FDA does not regulate how much caffeine goes into an energy drink.

Water verse energy drinks

Athletes can run into trouble when they over hydrate and their sodium level drops

According to Harvard Health,

“Sports drinks don’t appear to prevent hyponatremia. A study of marathoners by Harvard-based researchers found that 13% had some degree of hyponatremia and that it was just as likely to happen among those who guzzled sports drinks during the marathon as it was among those who stuck with water.”

What do you think of energy drinks and alcohol?

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