Are Energy Drinks Unhealthy for Adults and Growing Teens?

Found right alongside the ever-popular soda aisle is a newer crop of beverages that not only promise the sugarush a sweet-tooth craves but the energy-boosting abilities of the caffeine pops or coffees of the world to keep you wired. Popularized by world-class athletes, celebrities and even college kids amongst college as a way to stay amped, like most fads, energy drinks have trickled down to younger ages as a trendy alternative to classic favorites. Youthful personalities rarely need more energy, mental or physical stimulation than what they’re already blessed with, but the allure comes in the form of drinking a tasty and exciting brand that idols may associate with. But can the added kick in stimulants end up harming those who don’t need it or more importantly, those with underdeveloped bodies and nervous systems, like the adolescents the market targets?

 Canned, bottled or in highly-concentrated shot forms, energy drinks are everywhere. Some are carbonated, like a kid’s beloved soft drink, contain high amounts of sugar and herbal extracts. Designed to increase alertness and mental performance through the caffeinated state, it’s clear that the actual formulations themselves were not made with younger consumers in mind. Energy drinks that may fall under the “dietary supplement” label thanks to ingredients containing natural caffeine such as yerba mate, taurine, cacao or guarana, also means they are not regulated by the FDA. Often lacking electrolytes to make up for what the drinks take away, “crash and burn” an be an unwelcomed and common side effect.

 Too many energy drinks or too fast of consumption can lead to a number of health concerns in adults and adolescents alike. Nausea, dehydration, insomnia, restlessness, increased heart rates and chest pains are just some of the symptoms exposure to energy drinks can cause to consumers of any age. It’s suggested that adults average no more than 200mg of caffeine per day or the equivalent of 2 cups of coffee, while adolescents should stick to an average of no more than 100mg of caffeine or the equivalent of a single cup of coffee. Because growing bodies and minds shouldn’t be exposed to the same caffeine and stimulant levels as their full-grown, fully-matured counterparts, it’s no surprise that professional associations like The American Academy of Pediatrics advocate that “caffeine and other stimulant substances contained in energy drinks have no place in the diets of children and adolescents.”

 Adding an energy drink to a regular routine can easily send any adult’s sugar and caffeine consumption levels over the edge, with children’s levels even more so. Too much, too fast can lead to overdoses and counteract the very results energy drinks claim to offer. Avoiding energy drinks altogether is the safest bet for kids and adults of any age.

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