Many have speculated that energy drinks are not safe. This is a multibillion-dollar industry with over 500 different ‘buzz’ drinks worldwide.
Background– FDA says caffeinated soda cannot have more than 20mg/100ml. (=3.4 0z.). Meanwhile energy drinks usually pack over 32mg caffeine into every 100 ml. If you missed my earlier post this year on coffee have a quick read.
Caffeine is only one of the stimulants in these drinks. Taurine* (amino acid) another stimulant additive is believed to be the culprit in the increase in ER visits (20,000 nationally in 2011) linked to ‘buzz inducing drinks’. After reports of deaths and a non-fatal heart attack (MI) in users the FDA is looking into their safety. As expected some labels (including Monster Energy and Rockstar Energy) have sidestepped FDA oversight by rebranding their products as beverages rather than as dietary supplements. As beverages they would be exempt of F.D.A. reporting requirements. As if deaths and injuries are not enough, then they can be purchased with food stamps, but on the good side then ingredients must be listed on the can.
How do these drinks impact our hearts? No brainer additives are known stimulants and we all know what ‘stimulants’ can do. Doctors at the University Bonn, Germany studied 31 healthy men and women (yes a small sample, avg. age 28) by performing a cardiac MRI before and an hour after drinking an energy drink (containing 32mg caffeine/100ml & 400mg/100ml of taurine).
Results – there was no change in the heart rate, blood pressure but a significant increase in ‘peak systolic strain’ and ‘peak systolic rate’. ‘Strain’ occurs as stress is applied and measures heart’s ability to contract. But what does this mean short term or long term to the heart?
Interestingly researchers isolated a caffeine only drink and did not see the same ‘strain’ effects. So is it the taurine or a synergy of caffeine with taurine? Did you know Rockst*r Energy Drink contains 1000mg taurine in 8 oz.?
Use your brain and consider what you are putting into your body! Always read labels, please!
* Taurine occurs naturally in our bodies and can increase release of calcium in muscles including heart muscle.