Energy drinks, like Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar, are booming in popularity. Not just at convenience stores and groceries, but also at bars and clubs where they are mixed with alcohol. Drinkers of these energy drinks now have another reason to beware as it turns out their potent combination of high doses of caffeine and a powerful amino acid has sent tens of thousands of drinkers to the hospital each year.
According to the Mayo Clinic, taurine, an amino acid, has been shown to improve athletic performance on its own (although the Mayo Clinic stresses moderation). The problem, a new study shows, appears to be the combination of both high doses of caffeine and taurine.
A new study looked at heart scans of patients before and after sipping on these energy drinks. Scans after the drinks showed evidence of heart strain. Readouts on heart rate and blood pressure, though, showed no change.
While scientists continue to study the problem, the Mayo Clinic reports that up to 3,000 milligrams a day of taurine is considered safe, but you need to be aware of the other ingredients that occur in high amounts in energy drinks. Be aware of the high amounts of caffeine and sugar, which can affect your heart rate and blood pressure, interrupt your sleep, and cause nervousness and irritability.
The clinic concludes that “For most people, occasional energy drinks are fine, but try to limit yourself to about 16 ounces (500 milliliters) a day.”
A number of wrongful death and personal injury lawsuits have been brought on behalf of families who have lost loved ones allegedly at the hands of these powerful energy drinks. A report by the medical journal Pediatrics In Review found that energy drinks can cause insomnia, rapid heartbeat, high blood pressure, and anxiety. In another government study, emergency room visits by patients who have recently consumed these drinks have doubled in the past four years.
There is no question that as the use of these drinks continues to rise, so do suspicions about their safety. Parents of teens and young adults need to make sure their family members are educated about the dangers associated with these drinks and the potential they have for causing serious harm. Over-indulging in alcohol alone is unsafe, but mixing that alcohol with one of these powerful drinks could lead to serious injuries or even death.