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Dangers of Energy Drink Ingredients: Are Energy Drinks Bad For You and Why Should You Be Juicing Instead?

Updated on August 7, 2012

The Truth About Energy Drinks

Energy drinks are becoming increasingly popular these days. You can buy them everywhere in grocery stores, supermarkets and even health food stores. With names such as Red Bull, Full Throttle, Amp, and Rush - you can see them advertised all over the place. Millions of people all over the world are drinking these high powered beverages on a daily basis without giving it a second thought about how good or bad these drinks really are.

Beverage companies market various energy drinks as soft drinks that provide a boost of energy. Red Bull made by the Austrian company Red Bull GmbH, is one of the most popular in this category. Another one, Full Trottle is made by Coca-Cola.

Generally speaking, energy drinks are supposed to do just what the name implies -- these are pick-me-up beverages that are high in caffeine, that can provide you with a jolt of energy, but also with increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Picture by Kristian D.
Picture by Kristian D.

Do you know what is in energy drinks?

Although each energy drink is different, most energy drinks contain at least as much caffeine as an eight-ounce cup of coffee (about 80mg). Just to compare, a 12oz. soda contains 18-48mg of caffeine. Another major component is sugar. Caffeine and sugar are the ingredients that are providing most of that "energy boost".

But this is only the tip of the iceberg as far as ingredients go. In addition to large doses of caffeine and sugar, these drinks contain stuff you often never even heard of and you have no idea what effects can these substances have on your health, especially if you are taking prescription medications or have any medical conditions.

Even the FDA has admitted that many of the ingredients have not been fully tested as to their safety. While this does not mean these components are dangerous, it certainly means that we are not sure, and therefore caution - and moderation - is recommended. We do know that caffeine and some ingredients in these energy drinks can be harmful, especially if consumed in large quantities. That is why many health experts advise pregnant women and young children to avoid them.

Energy Drinks Ingredients

Here are some popular energy drinks components and what they do to your body:

Taurine- A natural amino acid produced by the body that helps regulate heart beat and muscle contractions. We normally get more than enough taurine in out diet and the extra amount that we get from these beverage, depending on how much we consume, can become toxic in our systems.

Guarana seed- A stimulant used as a dietary supplement that contains about twice the caffeine found in coffee beans.

Ephedrine - A stimulant that works on the central nervous system. It is a common ingredient in weight-loss products and decongestants, but there have been concerns about its effects on the heart.

Ginseng - A root believed by some to have several medicinal properties, including reducing stress and boosting energy levels.

B-vitamins - A group of vitamins that can convert sugar to energy and improve muscle tone.

Carnitine - An amino acid that plays a role in fatty acid metabolism.

Creatine - An organic acid that helps supply energy for muscle contractions.

Inositol - A member of the vitamin B complex (not a vitamin itself, because the human body can synthesize it) that helps relay messages within cells in the body.

Ginkgo biloba- Made from the seeds of the ginkgo biloba tree, thought to enhance memory.

To me this list reads more like a label on a bottle of nutritional supplements than a beverage.

My Best Recipe for Energy Boost: A Glass of Freshly Made Green Juice

When it comes to boosting energy in a healthy way, nothing beats a glass of freshly pressed vegetable and/or fruit juice. Forget coffee. Forget sugar. Forget stimulants. It takes more work to prepare the juice yourself, but IT IS WORTH IT!

The simple truth is this: no other food is more enzyme-rich and nutrient-rich and easier to absorb by our body, than fresh juice. Many people may be skeptical, because when they think of vegetable juice they typically picture a bottle of V-8 or tomato juice. However, even the biggest skeptics can be converted, when they try this delicious Green Cocktail juicer recipe, or V8 juice recipe and experience first-hand the benefits of juicing.

Read my hub about juicing recipes for more info recipes and advice.

Photo by Uncle Paul T "Birdman"
Photo by Uncle Paul T "Birdman"

Red Bull Banned in France

Red Bull may be the best selling energy drink in the United States, but it isn't so popular in other parts of the world. In France Red Bull was banned after it was linked to the death of an 18-year-old athlete. The teenager died after drinking four cans of Red Bull at a game. French laws dictate the maximum amount of caffeine that companies can add to products, and Red Bull exceeds that limit. Denmark and Norway have also banned the drink. Other countries, such as Canada, require the can to carry a warning label for pregnant women and children.

Consuming a lot of caffeine and other stimulants it can lead to heart palpitations, anxiety and insomnia -- it also can make you feel jittery and irritable. It is also a diuretic -- it causes the kidneys to remove extra fluid into the urine. So drinking an energy drink while you're exercising can be particularly dangerous. The combination of the diuretic effect and sweating can severely dehydrate you.

OK, I'm not writing this to scare you. When used in moderation, energy drinks are probably safe, although caffeine and other stimulants can become addictive over time.

At the very least, this should at least get you think what you are putting into your body and the effects of energy drinks and the ingredients in them.

Fresh Juice - Healthy Alternative To Energy Drinks


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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      There is only one brand of energy drink I have and its not sold in stores it uses hardly any caffeine or sugar it relies on b vitamins it even comes in caffeine free no dyes are added either the natural color comes from the fuit and vegetables used in them. I would never use any other brand.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I hope people aren't basing their judgments off this article, its full of errors. The author doesn't seem to know anything about any of the ingredients or offer any citations. By the way ephedrine in the USA is a controlled drug, you need a prescription to get it. It has never been in energy drinks.

    • Scott P Williams profile image

      Scott P Williams 

      5 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Red bull and others also dehydrate you because they cause you to urinate more water out than was actually taken in with the drink itself. Great Hub!

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      why would you drink 4 cans of red bull in the first place... that person wasn't very smart

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      enrgy drinks do give you thumping sore heads, imsomnia and tingling shocks in the arms and legs which drive you bonkers, so stay away from them , aint worth it,,,.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I absolutely agree that energy drinks as soft drinks that provide a boost of energy at the same time it helps our body energetic in any fields especially in sports.

    • profile image

      Chris Hugh 

      6 years ago

      Good info. I'll forward it to my brother, who loves energy drinks. I think juicing is a much better alternative.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      enegry drinks are very harmful to u. :)

    • xsenergydrink profile image


      6 years ago

      yes, very true..more and more energy drinks are starting to address this issue, you see low sugar and low carbs when you go to the stores now. Not everything but there is an effort being made here.

    • profile image

      not telling 

      7 years ago

      lucozade is pretty good as it uses energy from glucose instead of guarana or taurine

    • applejuic3 profile image


      7 years ago from San Diego, CA

      while i don't think energy drinks are healthy, they are definitely hard to stay away from. they are quite convenient and are great for summer days when its hot outside and coffee/tea isn't suitable. however, i do think down the line i want to move onto healthier drinks like blended fruits/vegetables.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      i drink 4 or 5 red bull or v a day ( depends what i feel like at the time)at least once a week and at least 1 or 2 every other day of the week. have been for the last 2 years and ive been doing fine. i think the longest ive gone without any energy drinks in that time is 3 months.

    • tomy101 profile image

      Christopher Hyer 

      7 years ago from Midland, Texas

      I thought I was the only one bashing Red Bull, Our FDA is doing a fine job by letting vending machines be at your neighborhood Walmart with , you guest right, RED BULL, I further discovered more about it in my report, and I am addicted to one 12 oz bottle of this a night, and I better quit. There is something in it, that makes me not want to drink beer and I do not drink anything bad but the Red Crud. We use to regulate what our kids drink, Go to red bull's website of vender and read what they have to say about it, Its Great for 15 -35 year olds I believe the vending machine outfit says. Its a darn shame, that our government isn't ,,,,welll....

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      on v, it has it in little writing in a little box, i reckon they should make it bigger, because it took me ages to find how much you can have a day after reading tims comment...

    • profile image


      8 years ago


    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Weird enough ,energy drinks don't seem to work for me. It doesn't keep me up when I need it to, and most specially it doesn't energise me as it's supposed to. :(

    • profile image

      something else 

      8 years ago


    • profile image

      something else 

      8 years ago


    • profile image

      blah blah blah 

      8 years ago

      energy drinks are completely stupid. a lot of my friends are drinking them but there is nothing special about them!? I've tasted them before but you know, they taste just like regular coke.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      your information is absolutely rational,advice is excellent ,but the french athlete is not a cause for banning red bull beverage,everybody knows that excess caffeine addiction can cause death.Personally i think a can of red bull a day wouldn't cause any harm:P

    • profile image

      Chicago liposuction 

      8 years ago

      I gotta go with the Sugar Free Red Bull, low calories and long lasting effects. Those five hour energy shots are pretty good, but I actually get a good wake up and staying power with the red bull.

      The taste is something to get adjusted to, but I think that helps wake you up. It’s kinda of like drinking a liquid sweet n sour soda.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Really good info :P

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great points, and I'm glad to see you are getting the word out.

      Energy drinks- terribly misnamed, are one of the nastiest things one can put in the body. I’ve read numerous articles on the subject, have written them as well, and occasionally speak about the topic.

      There is one that got introduced Sept 1st, 2009 (today as I write this), that is in a category of it’s own. Natural and yet with years of scientific research, it has some pretty amazing benefits and is very good for the mind and alertness as well.

      It has a bit of caffeine, mostly due to the green tea extract, but it's the other ingredients that make the big difference. In the interest of disclosure, I became so impressed I became a rep for the product.

      I can guarantee you won’t find anything like it anywhere. I was able to obtain some before it was officially launched, and drink it everyday with great benefit. I almost feel sorry for the general public that are likely to never find out about it, though I'm told radio commercials will begin soon.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      4 energy is linked to a death not surprising- on the back of the cans/bottles it says not to consume more than 1/2 a day in bold writing.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin

      Good informative piece. I learned a lot!


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