Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Myth: The caffeine in energy drinks can’t hurt me.

Answer: BUSTED!

can of generic energy drink
New federal data shows that emergency room visits are increasingly tied to energy drinks. Comparing the years 2007 and 2011, hospital visits involving energy drinks doubled. In 2011, 20,783 visits cited energy drinks as the primary cause or contributing factor for the visit. Compare that to 10,068 visits in 2007. Caffeine, an ingredient in energy drinks, can cause anxiety, headaches and irregular heartbeats. Those 18 to 25 years of age were by far the largest age group of patients reflected in these visits.

Caffeine is not the only ingredient in energy drinks to be cautious of. These drinks may contain other stimulants like yohimbe. And even if the ingredient is not a stimulant, it may interact with medications you are currently taking. How do you know if the ingredients are safe? One source of information is the Office of Dietary Supplements Fact Sheets – when you click on the ingredient you will see more detailed information including side effects and cautions.

For more information about energy drinks, go to

Contributor: Ellen Schuster, M.S., R.D., Associate State Specialist, University of Missouri Extension,, 573-882-1933

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