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5-Hour Energy Review: Does it Work? Is it Safe?

Updated on December 6, 2010

5-Hour Energy review

On a daily basis, we Americans go to work, attend school, do household chores, cook meals, take care of kids, exercise, and try to solve the world's problems. Understandably, we are tired. How can we possibly maintain this busy and energy-consuming lifestyle day after day? Thankfully, 5-Hour Energy claims to hold the solution. Obviously, there are skeptics, but there are also committed believers.

5-Hour Energy
5-Hour Energy

What is 5-Hour Energy?

Since it's introduction in 2004, 5-Hour Energy has become the number one selling product in it's category, grossing more than $500 million in annual sales. For you cave dwellers out there: 5-Hour Energy is a 2-ounce liquid supplement that’s available in a variety of flavors. It claims to give users increased energy and "provide mental alertness, focus and improved mood." There is zero sugar, so users of 5-Hour Energy reap it's benefits without "crashing" or "feeling jittery or tense [later]." The ubiquitous TV advertisement portrays a handful of sluggish office workers on the brink of unconsciousness. Miraculously, after drinking 5-Hour Energy, workers are wide-awake, cheerful, and have seemingly fallen in love with their cubicles all over again. The advertisement leads one to believe that 5-Hour Energy is the solution to the humdrum of office work. Can this be true? Is this the Holy Grail of increased energy we've all been searching for? Or is 5-Hour Energy just pulling the wool over the eyes of exhausted white-collared Americans in order to make a buck?

Momma always told me, “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” And to me, this looks pretty damn good. So I'm here to find out: Does 5-Hour Energy actually work like they say? And if so, is it safe to drink?

Does 5-Hour Energy work?

In short, yes, 5-Hour Energy does give you energy. Whether or not it provides the full 5 hours of energy, improves mood or mental alertness as it claims, is up for debate. The fact is, 5-Hour Energy contains as much caffeine as a regular cup of coffee. It also contains a healthy dose of B vitamins - about 8,333% of the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin B12 and 2,000% of the RDA for vitamin B6. B vitamins provide energy by helping to unlock the energy found naturally in most foods. But the average American already consumes the RDA of B vitamins in their normal diet. Excess B vitamins are literally pissed away, and do not equal excess energy...sorry. You'd like that though, huh?

Okay, what about the claim that you can drink 5-Hour Energy without "crashing" later? Well, this could also be true. Instead of sugar, 5-Hour Energy relies on vitamins and amino acids to give users their elevated sense of energy, over a longer period. Obviously, everyone is different, but the drink should let you down easier, so to speak, than most other energy drinks high in sugar and caffeine.

Does 5-Hour Energy work for you?

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Is 5-Hour Energy safe?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the agency responsible for protecting and promoting your health, has not approved 5-Hour Energy or it's claims. This may sound a little unnerving, but don't worry. While all dietary supplements are strictly regulated, none are ever approved by the FDA. Nevertheless, Lynn Petersmarck, advertising director for Living Essentials, the manufacturer of 5-Hour Energy, says the product is safe. Phew. Petersmarck also states that "everything in 5-Hour Energy is already contained in foods, such as apples, avocados, grains, and nuts, or is naturally occurring in your body."

After reviewing the ingredients, you might be wondering - "that's a lot of vitamin B, is that safe?" Well, yes and no. Even at excessive amounts (8,333% and 2,000% of the RDA for vitamin B12 and B6, respectively), B vitamins won't do any damage. However, it is true that extremely high doses of vitamin B6 can cause nerve damage, tingling, and numbness in the arms and legs. In addition, we know that too much caffeine can cause a variety of problems including sleep deficiency, nausea, anxiety, increased heartrate, and high blood pressure to name a few. The manufacturers website also cautions that some users may experience a "Niacin flush (hot feeling, skin redness) that lasts a few minutes. This is caused by Niacin (Vitamin B3) increasing blood flow near the skin." To be safe, 5-Hour Energy recommends not exceeding 2 bottles of 5-Hour Energy in one day. Thus, like most things in life, 5-Hour Energy can be completely safe in moderation.

The claim of 5-Hour Energy


5-Hour Energy ingredients
5-Hour Energy ingredients

How to get more energy, naturally

If you find yourself continually reaching for a 5-Hour Energy or similar stimulants throughout your day, it might be time to try a more natural alternative. There are several things you can do to help increase energy levels and mental sharpness. In a related article from WebMD, Chris Rosenbloom, a professor of nutrition at Georgia State University; Jim White, a national spokesman for the American Dietetic Association; and Brent Bauer, director of the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota suggest ways you can boost your energy levels effectively and naturally:

  • Eat several small meals throughout the day rather than three large ones.
  • Avoid large amounts of sugar and fat.
  • Don’t skip meals, especially breakfast.
  • Take a quick exercise break, such as a short walk.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Consider paced breathing, which can improve the heart rate and boost relaxation, or meditating for a short time.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Get enough sleep.

Should I buy 5-Hour Energy?

In trying to stay as objective as possible, I can't tell you whether or not to buy 5-Hour Energy. Will it give you some energy if you are tired? Yes. Is it safe to drink in moderation? Yes. Personally, at $2.99 per 2-ounce bottle, I need 5-Hour Energy like I need an ashtray on my motorcycle.

Instead of 5-Hour Energy, maybe all he needs is a catnap?
Instead of 5-Hour Energy, maybe all he needs is a catnap?


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    • profile image

      fatgrl 5 years ago

      One thing that they do not tell you about 5-Hour Energy drink is if you drink it on a regular bases it will make your vitamin B-12 hit the roof. So when drinking these please make sure that you have your levels checked every 3 months. Mine went up to 1625 from drinking these 3-4 times a week.

    • krosch profile image

      krosch 6 years ago

      5 Hour Energy is without a doubt the best energy drink that I have ever tried. Thanks for doing the research on the various back round questions concerning 5 hour energy. I certainly tell everyone I can about it.

    • profile image

      Lisa Jeferson  6 years ago

      The price is too high, but good results from the product.

    • profile image

      Greg Filers  6 years ago

      Good stuff, hope they go to another Nascar team in 2012.

      Maybe Stewart, RCR or penske.

    • AlittleBitCountry profile image

      AlittleBitCountry 6 years ago

      I love these 5 hour energy drinks! My only complaint is the price. They seem expensive for such a tiny bottle, but I'm pretty sure redbulls and monsters are just as or more expensive so I guess the price makes sense. Great article thanks for the info!

    • jdaviswrites profile image

      Jeff Davis 7 years ago from California

      Jamie Brock - That is exactly where I was at. It seems a bit healthier for you than I had previously assumed. After trying it the other day, I'll admit I felt more awake...but improved mood? maybe. More focused? doesn't that come with mental alertness and simply being awake. At any rate, I think it's a situational thing and results will vary for every person. Just like a cup of coffee effects people differently. Thanks for reading and yes, try it out.

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 7 years ago from Texas

      Thank you for this good info on 5 hour energy. I see the commercials all the time and have wondered if it actually worked. I'm glad it seems to be more natural with the added B vitamins and stuff. I am going to give it a try!

    • jdaviswrites profile image

      Jeff Davis 7 years ago from California

      dallas93444 - Glad to hear it "worked." Thanks for the comment...

    • dallas93444 profile image

      Dallas W Thompson 7 years ago from Bakersfield, CA

      Tried it and it seemed to "work."

      Thanks for the great article...

    • jdaviswrites profile image

      Jeff Davis 7 years ago from California

      rpalulis - I questioned the same as well...which is how I came to write this. Thanks for reading and your comment. I appreciate it!

    • rpalulis profile image

      rpalulis 7 years ago from NY

      I have never tried 5 hour energy and have often questioned its safety and effectiveness to work every time I would see the commercials. Great review. I much prefer the natural approach to receiving more energy.

    • jdaviswrites profile image

      Jeff Davis 7 years ago from California

      Boogr - You're welcome, that's what I'm here for. Glad you found it useful. I stick to coffee as well...cheers

    • Boogr profile image

      Boogr 7 years ago from Louisiana

      Thank you for clearing up some of my qualms with this product. I myself have not personally tried it, for being wary of health issues. If I ever need an emergency lift, I might try it, but as you say... 2.99 for a 2 oz bottle... I might just get a cup of coffee :)