Healthy Energy Drinks - Facts About Energy Drinks

An energy drink is a drink that can have a stimulating effect on humans. There are two types of energy drinks, the so-called sport drinks and drinks which are intended for the improvement of physical and mental performance, although this effect is sometimes questionable. This article deals with the latter category, which are almost always under the designation "Energy Drink" which is sold, and a can containing a quantity of caffeine and similar components that is comparable to coffee.

Energy drink is a big question. Sales of brands like Monster, Burn and Red Bull took (in Belgium) for 5 years annually by 10 percent until 2010 and there are more and more brands at. Marketing focuses on young consumers. After 2010, almost every Dutch supermarket or a private label (or other cheap brand) and some drugstore chains. Red Bull is the most sold in pubs and petrol stations, snack bars, soda machines and the like. In the supermarket or drugstore the other brands, especially the cheaper, the most sold energy drinks. The cheaper house brands in the store often 1/3 of the price of Red Bull. Bullit (also Red Bull) is in a range between cheap and expensive cans.

Ingredients in energy drinks

Ingredients that are found in most energy drinks:

-Sugar. With the exception of sugar-free varieties of energy drinks contain a lot of sugar: 105 and 149 grams per liter, similar to soft drinks like Coke.
-Caffeine (often also in the form of guarana). Most energy drinks contain 320 mg of caffeine per liter, according to the maximum permitted amount of caffeine in flavored drinks without alcohol. Bullit and some brands of chain stores contain little less, 300 mg per liter. A can of 250ml contains 80mg than with about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee.
The recommended doses for caffeine depend on the age and health status of the person. For an adult, a maximum of 400 mg per day is recommended. For a child, the admissible daily dose of 2.5 mg per kilogram of body weight: Tue 45 mg per day at the age of 5-6 years, 60 mg daily, around the age of 7-9 years and 85 mg per day for children 10-12 years.
-Taurine or glucuronolactone. According to the European Food Safety Authority's exposure to taurine and glucuronolactone through regular consumption of energy drinks no cause for concern, assuming an average consumption of 125 ml (half a can) per person per day and high daily consumption of 350 ml (1, 4 can). The observed negative health effects are mainly due to the consumption of large amounts of caffeine
-Vitamins (often the B group, including inositol)
-Artificial flavoring agents
-Ginseng, improves the concentration and movement.

Often be added to energy drinks are substances which enhance the effect of caffeine. Guarana also contains 40 to 90 mg of caffeine and caffeine-related substances per gram of dry matter and has the same stimulating effect. Taurine also could enhance the effects of caffeine on the nervous system. Diethyl or diet products contain sweeteners acesulfame-K, aspartame and / or sucralose.

Types of energy drinks

Energy drinks were previously only sold in 25cl cans, except 25cl bottles, which are sold mainly outside Europe in the hospitality industry. Since 2008, there are packs of 33cl and 355ml in an oblong tin. There are cans of 473ml, 500ml and 568ml. The 568ml variant contains 30mg of caffeine per 100ml and 32mg no, because otherwise the legal amount of caffeine is exceeded may occur in a drink. Some brands sell variants with different flavors, or a light version. Red Bull also brought a 33 cl PET bottle on the market. Now mainly sold 250ml variants. There are small plastic tubes on the market, called "energy shots. These tubes contain a slightly higher amount of taurine and caffeine than a 25 cl can of energy drink, but not the large amount of moisture and a lot less sugar. In Germany, these tubes being forbidden, since it in a very short time can ingest vast quantities of caffeine and taurine as the ratio of the content of these compounds is much higher than in a regular tin. Red Bull started with these tubes, and Kruidvat followed with a cheaper version. Fedex has withdrawn the tubes in 2012. Came Coca Cola (mainly outside Europe) with Burn energy shot in 2009 and left in 2011 phased out of the market.

Manufacturers use the popularity of these drinks, so there now is also a transparent plastic bottles energy drink containing caffeine from Guarana, for example with a content of 24 mg of caffeine per 100 ml, are on the market, which by the presence of fruit juice, a slightly lower content of to sugar than the standard energy drink cans, the absence of taurine and by the selected brand, similar to 'healthy' drinks as opposed to the long-standing cans. If a bottle is 33 cl, the caffeine content in ratio is almost equal to a can of energy drink 25cl, in which the maximum allowable, or nearly maximum allowable amount of caffeine is, depending on the type of tin (brands are often 30 mg per 100 ml, and the expensive brands often 32 mg per 100 ml. to the popularity of the drinks is also seen in candy form. pockets round candy balls with (low amount) of caffeine, taurine and some B-vitamins from a known candy merk since early 2014 for sale in Netherlands and Belgium.

Effects of energy drinks on the body

One can state generally that the effect comes mainly from the added caffeine. But the amount of sugar that is in the drinks can increase performance (short-term). The other substances, such as taurine, lead according to manufacturers to increase performance. However, this claim is disputed.

An effect on the ability to concentrate or cognitive performance could not be demonstrated in a scientific study. Also on the sports performance impact could not be demonstrated, although a 2001 study found an effect indeed. Could show that drivers on long car journeys could stay awake longer. This effect is probably due entirely to the effect of the caffeine.

Negative effects, especially at high doses, are often associated with anxiety (stress and / or anxious and panicky feeling), increasing from and fluctuation of blood glucose, transient osmotic diarrhea, headache, palpitations and nausea. With regular or daily use also contributes to the development of obesity. If other ingredients such as caffeine and taurine are still present in too high a concentration in the blood, this can lead to insomnia, which can lead to daytime sleepiness. With prolonged use can lead to a vicious circle here. They drink the drinks to combat fatigue and drowsiness, but can not sleep because, for example, in the evenings too energy consumes drink.

Energy drinks health risks

The Danish Government calls for a warning on the package of energy drinks that adults should not consume more than 50 cl per day. For people under 18 is not more than 25 cl per day. We also need to come to be that the product should not be used by children under ten years as well as pregnant women.

Recently argued the Belgian consumer CRIOC already a ban on sales to young people. The German Federal Institute for Risk announced in 2010 for a ban on energy shots (which proportionally more caffeine or energy drinks contain taurine then).

The French food safety agency AFSSA has issued between 2001 and 2006 even negative opinions to four times about energy drinks, before it was eventually succumb in July 2008 for the major European pressure.

In 2012 parliamentary questions were asked in the Netherlands to the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport, with the aim to achieve the energy drinks from the shelves of supermarkets in order to protect young people from the adverse impacts of (excessive) consumption.

An 'overdose' energy drink can, especially in children and adult people with diabetes and / or an abnormality of the heart and blood vessels, leading to a stroke or heart attack. In the worst case, the consumption of energy drinks to death, especially if someone is more sensitive by a condition or disease to the adverse effects of energy drinks and in particular by the massive amounts of caffeine in the drinks.

Combination with alcohol, drugs or medication
Mixing energy drinks with alcohol can have someone make you feel less drunk than it is, which one is going to drink more than intended as a stimulatory effect of caffeine and alcohol has a depressant effect on the nervous system. But caffeine is not the action of alcohol and alcohol reduces the effect of caffeine is not reduced. The combination of high doses is not recommended because it seems like they have consumed less alcohol than is the case. This allows one to consume more alcohol because the desired effect has not yet been reached or appears. Both substances also float and draw moisture away from the body with vitamin B deficiency as a result and a possible increased hangover feeling. In nightclubs, the combination of Vodka with Red Bull impressive growth. Between the consumption of water, preferably cold, and increased use of thiamine (vitamin B1) may again reduce possible hangover symptoms, but certainly not eliminate.

There are also people who consciously means that dampen the central nervous system such as sedatives or even hard drugs, while taking huge amounts of energy drinks in order to gain an amphetamine-like effect without using amphetamine.

These forms of abuse can deplete the body with enormous fatigue or even depression and fungal infections as a result. Energy drinks raise blood sugar, which can be harmful for diabetics (type 1 and 2) or people with a genetic predisposition for diabetes mellitus type 2. Diabetes mellitus type 2 is a multifactorial disease (lifestyle, diet and heredity may play a role in its creation).

It is said that the combination of energy drink with alcohol is dangerous because the caffeine and the alcohol together provide strong dehydration phenomena. In theory, it is indeed possible to get dehydrated from excessive amounts of alcohol and caffeine in combination, in practice, especially the hangover problem.

Energy drink is often said that it is an attack on health (heart and blood vessels). Australian research showed that after one sugar free can of 250 ml Red Bull the "stickiness" of increased platelets, reducing the risk of clot formation increases .. In an article about energy drinks from the German Institute for Risk Assessment are cardiac arrhythmias, seizures, kidney failure and called death after drinking energy drinks. Although a causal relationship with drinking energy drinks is unclear, the Institute recommends people with high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease caution when drinking energy drinks until larger studies are carried out to this potential link. By the National Poisons Information Centre in Ireland in the years 1999-2005 registered seventeen cases of confusion, tachycardia (rapid pulse), and seizures after drinking energy drinks, including two fatalities.

Furthermore, energy drinks in susceptible individuals lead to a fatal cardiac arrhythmia.

In contrast, there are also a lot of B-vitamins and taurine in energy drinks that can have a positive effect on the health and may have a performance-enhancing effect, which is negligible compared with the operation of the caffeine. It is not that the added vitamins compensates for the effects of caffeine and sugar. It is striking that thiamine (vitamin B1) is missing from the drinks. Thiamine is essential in the metabolism of carbohydrates, hence the processing of the sugars present in the energy drink by the body. Frequent use of energy drinks, coffee or alcohol can cause dehydration and a deficiency of thiamine.

Dental erosion

Also, the drinks because of the sugar content, but also because of the acidity, an attack on the teeth. The large amount of food acids cause dental erosion (wear of the enamel of the teeth).

Addiction occurs, similar to addiction to coffee. Even children are sometimes addicted to these energy drinks, the B-brands are relatively inexpensive.

In addiction withdrawal symptoms are often after 5-10 days passed. They mainly consist of headaches, difficulty concentrating, mild depression, the loss of the agent, fatigue and personal symptoms. These symptoms do not always occur. At extremely high use is wise to reduce the cans each day to take a can of less. Addiction to energy drink is not entirely the same as addiction to caffeine (in the form of coffee). When energy drink plays sugar, taurine and glucuronolactone probably also play a role. If there is one addiction and dismantle or stop acute, the success of this also depends on whether one drinks such as coffee or other caffeinated beverages and drinks with high levels of refined sugar, such as soft drinks. In general it can be stated that if there is really of addiction, it is also necessary with other beverages (a part of) the same substances are also not (no longer) to be used.

The Belgian consumer CRIOC highlights the dangers of energy drinks for pregnant women and pregnant women therefore recommends against the use of energy drinks.


The idea of energy drinks comes from Japan. Here were pilots after World War II to use the idea of taurine to dispel their fatigue after a long flight. As a result, a drink named Lipovitan-D came into fashion. This hit on to Thailand from which the "inventor" of Red Bull took the idea back to Europe. By a slick marketing became popular with the alternative youth and the club scene (such as techno, mountain biking and snowboarding).

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