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Drinking Red Bull and other Energy Drinks Can be Unhealthy

Updated on November 16, 2009

Energy Drinks

If you need a boost of energy, there are many options that you can choose from whether it be an energy drink, caffeine pill, or another alternative method of getting that supplemental boost of energy to get you through the day. When it comes to which is popular, energy drink will definitely get that vote; they're relatively cheap, easily accessible, and taste good.

When it comes to drinking an energy drink, you'll find sugar and caffeine are two ingredients that will always be high on the ingredients label. In terms of the caffeine punch, a typical energy drink will have up to 80 milligrams of caffeine, which is equivalent to a cup of coffee and less than the average 12 ounce soda, which can contain 18 to 48 milligrams.

Energy drinks are supposed to give you that extra stamina boost, whereas a regular soda is just supposed to taste good. Some people will get a similar boost from a Coca-Cola, but a soda is basically made of water, sugar, and flavoring, it's supposed to taste good. But, when you add a ton more caffeine in order to get the energy punch, the ingredient is blocking the adenosine in your brain, so that your brain doesn't tell your body that you're tired and need sleep.

The caffeine blocks the adenosine, causing the neurons in the brain to fire up and basically trick the body into thinking that it's in an emergency state, where the pituitary gland initiates a fight or flight response, releasing adrenaline. Your heart will beat faster and your eyes may dilate; your liver will even release extra sugar into your blood to give your more energy. The caffeine in your energy drink is what is causing the energy boost, not the herbs in the drink.

Energy drinks are marketed towards students and athletes, so that they can improve endurance and performance, but you'll find that health experts and doctors will quickly disagree.

Energy Drinks Ingredients

  • Carnitine: An amino acid that has been seen to play a role in fatty acid metabolism
  • Creatine: An organic acid that helps supply energy for muscle contractions
  • Ephedrine: A stimulant that works on the central nervous system; commonly used in weight loss products and decongestants.
  • Ginseng: A root that is thought to to help reduce stress and increase energy
  • Carnitine: An amino acid that helps to metabolize fatty acids
  • Gingko Biloba: An extract from the seeds the gingko biloba tree that is thought to enhance memory and reduce memory loss
  • Guarana Seed: A stimulant grown native in Brazil and Venezuela that contains high amounts of caffeine
  • Inositol: Although not a vitamin, it's a member of the Vitamin B group that helps in the transmit messages between cells
  • Taurine: A natural amino acid that's produced by the human body that helps regulate normal heart beats and muscle contractions.

Looking at a Red Bull can, the ingredients are as follows: carbonated water, sucrose, gluose, citric acid, taurine, sodium citrates, magnesium carbonate, caffeine, glucuronolacone, inositol, niacinamide, calcium-pantothenate, pyridoxine HCL, vitamin B12, natural and artificial flavors, colors

Depending on which energy drink you choose, you'll find that the exact ingredients will vary, but the ingredients will be similar.

Health Problems

Energy drinks are packed with tons of ingredients that can be deceptive drink that can be viewed as a soft drink and pseudo-supplement, but you'll find that when abused and over-drunk, there can be health complications that you probably won't think is work the added energy boost that you may receive for a few hours.

Like all foods and drinks that, by law, are required to list all ingredients, they don't tell you whether the ingredients have been sprayed with pesticides or whether they have been irradiated or watered with contaminated water. That in itself is a concern with any food or beverage though, so you may think that when reading the ingredients, you'll be ok with the natural herbs, but you just don't realize what they may have come into contact with.

The caffeine that is in the energy drinks will act as a stimulant to pump you up, but it is also a diuretic that basically uses up your body's water content by having your kidneys flush the extra fluids out of the body, potentially causing dehydration, especially if you're sweating while drinking an energy drink. Plus, caffeine can cause anxiety, heart attacks, heart palpitations, and insomnia. Again, this is a general issue with any beverage (or food) that contains caffeine.

Besides the sugars and caffeine, you want to also be careful if the energy drink contains ephedrine because it can cause heart problems. There hasn't been extensive research on taurine or the other ingredients that are common in energy drinks, it's just recommended that pregnant women, women who are nursing, and young children avoid drinking them.

You'll also want to be careful mixing energy drinks with alcohol, as alcohol is a depressant which will have a calming effect on the body, you won't realize how much you're drinking. Studies show that when you combine energy drinks and alcohol, people feel more alert and sober, but in reality they were actually drunk. Alcohol and energy drinks will both dehydrate you, so when combined your bodily fluids can drop to dangerous levels.

In the long run, the effects of energy drinks is not 100 percent known, but you'll find that the large amounts of sugars that are in energy drinks and the caffeine is going to cause a harmful effect on your body. You'll find that in moderation, energy drinks can be safe for you to drink, but because they contain a lot of caffeine and sugar, you want to make sure that you drink in moderation. You don't want to drink several energy drinks in strenuous activity and exercise without properly hydrating yourself.

There have been many people hospitalized and some killed from over drinking energy drinks. It's not the beverage itself, but the dehydration and other problems caused by the caffeine.

Healthy Alternative to an Energy Boost

If you're looking for an alternative to an energy drink, you may want to consider some of the following options.

  • Yerba mate tea naturally contains caffeine and other stimulants that can give you a natural boost of energy. The leaves contain theobromine, which is found in cocoa, which helps elevate your mood. It's thought that yerba mate tea can actually boost your immune system, relieve allergies, and help aid weight loss. But, it's been told yerba mate tea is an acquired taste, so it's something you'll have to get used to. It is sold as tea, latte, coffee, and as an energy drink.
  • Zipfizz is a powder that contains electrolytes, antioxidants, and vitamin B12. You mix it with a bottle of water, and you'll receive vitamins and minerals, as well as natural, immune strengthening nutrients to give your body an energy boost.
  • Eniva Vibe is a healthy energy drink that is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It is a little expensive if you purchase it in the 1 quart bottles, but you can buy individual packets for a little cheaper.
  • FRS Liquid Concentrate Energy Drink uses queretin, an antioxidant, as the energy booster. The drink helps give you real energy, enhance fitness, and aid your immune system functions. The drink comes in a few different flavors, and is essentially a vitamin water drink. The ingredients are all natural products t o include evaporated can juice (for sweetness), juice concentrates, and vitamins (vitamin E, B3, B12, B6, B1, and B2). Some of the flavors will have slightly different ingredients. You can also purchase FRS Energy Chews if you'd like to try them in addition to or instead of the drink, or the brand offers the individual powder sticks that you can add to bottled water.

You want to make sure that you drink plenty of water to re-hydrate yourself. When you re-hydrate, your body will stay alert and move nutrients around and through your body. You, also, want to make sure to keep a healthy diet and lifestyle, and of course get plenty of sleep at night; eat a good breakfast and eat something every few hours to keep your blood sugar up.

If your blood sugar drops, you'll lose energy, so when you eat, make sure that you eat something healthy and small. You don't want to eat a full meal every two or three hours; try eating a fruit or a small healthy snack. You want to avoid eating candy and sweets because once the sugar has been digested and metabolized, you'll be tired again.

If you feel yourself getting tired, you can get up and walk around the room or building. If you're at work take a break and walk around the building or through it. If you get your blood moving, your metabolism and stamina will increase.

When trying to boost your energy levels, you want to take everything in moderation. Don't overdo it, as in excess, most everything is going to be bad for you, especially if it's something that you're putting in your body.


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I dont drink red bull an i notice with my boyfriend,mood swings,grumpy&anxeity real bad at time i think there unhealthy...but he won't listen to me....

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      How many monster drinks are there?

    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 

      6 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      I'm a big fan of energy drinks. Like anything else, they can be abused, but if one uses common sense - drink plenty of water, use them for workouts or long shifts / drives, and don't drink them every day - they can be used safely. You have to be ESPECIALLY careful with something like Red Line, which comes in 8 ounce bottles and tastes like fruit punch. You drink only HALF the bottle! Otherwise, you'll get jittery big time!

    • hanwillingham profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice hub. Thanks for posting.

    • Sun360 profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice and well shared hub.

    • Vishal Vishwakarm profile image

      Vishal Vishwakarma 

      7 years ago from India

      Energy drinks are not healthy for our body because almost every energy drink in market contains very high quantity of caffeine and caffeine is definitely not good for health,body reads excessive caffeine as a stress on brain,because of this we don't feel sleepy or tired after drinking energy drink and energy drink also increases heart beat.

      I tried red bull many times, taste was not good and it also contains taurine which I think is not healthy.

      So excessive consumption of energy drink is dangerous for health.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i used to drink red bull it gave me powerful thought and feel confident but as i got more in my body it just dizzy up me head. it scares me off i think i will not use energy drink products.

      great information!!!! i just reallize that its danger...

    • Simone N profile image

      Simone N 

      8 years ago from Rural Northern California

      I like the info on this Hub.

      I personally have noticed if I ingest Guarana or Taurine I feel *wrong* and jumpy - I have long thought my many acquaintances dependence on Red Bull was not a good idea.

    • profile image

      Saint Haiti 

      8 years ago

      Scientists really don't know a whole lot about energy drinks in the long run.

      Coffee is blowing up as a miracle (drug?), but it could be from the natural substances that make coffee up. Not only the caffeine.

      So as far as energy drinks go I will keep drinking my one before morning classes and until it is scientifically conclusive that I shouldn't; I shan't stop.

      And excellent hub.

    • Jeff Berndt profile image

      Jeff Berndt 

      8 years ago from Southeast Michigan

      When I saw the title of this hub, I thought, "And in other news, scientists say that water is wet!" But I was pleasantly surprised. This is well-written and informative. Good stuff!

    • profile image

      Martin V 

      9 years ago

      great hub! thanks for sharing!

    • fratjoe18 profile image


      9 years ago from Bluffton, SC

      I know I use to drink monster all the time, but my heart started acting irregular sometimes, and it scared me, so I quit them for good. Can you believe they actually sell alcoholic energy drink now?

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I was investigating "energy drinks" - your hub is very through. I found that the $5 bottle of "energy" can be achieved with one cup of caffeine and some fairly inexpensive vitamins. I am still experimenting with the energy vitamins - will keep you posted. I did forget and had taken the vitamins at night and they did keep me awake so maybe they will work!

      Great tip on hydration - absolutely critical. Our muscles are 75% water and need water!

      A physician friend advises Zipfizz too!

      Great hub - thank you very much!

    • vijaylvs profile image


      9 years ago

      On perusal of your impressive and reliable information one can easily understand the truth. Health is real wealth whereas the wealth is its subordinate. Your hub will enlighten the people in regard to their health.

    • fastfreta profile image

      Alfreta Sailor 

      9 years ago from Southern California

      Very informative. My heart cannot take ephedrine, and Guarana, so the other drinks you mentioned are worth looking into. Thanks for doing all the research, so I won't have to. I'm going to bookmark this hub for future reference.

    • Rader Poetry profile image

      Rader Poetry 

      9 years ago

      I agree with your information these drinks are not healthy for us to drink. However I do know of a good Healthy energy drink and it cn be purchased from a company called MonaVie and it is great tasting. It is made from the Acai Berry one of the highest antioxidant fruits there is

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      9 years ago from London, UK

      Great hub and lots of information. Thank you.


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