Doctors Warn of Dangers of Energy Drinks for Children

July 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Childrens Health, featured, Health

There are times we all need a pick me up, and with the young – particularly teenagers the new energy drinks are a fast fix. Usually full of sugar, caffeine and other ingredients such as ginseng and taurine they are easily available and very attractive to the eye. However, in a new report, experts are now urging children and teenagers to avoid them because of possible health risks.

“Children never need energy drinks,” according to Dr. Holly Benjamin of the American Academy of Paediatrics who worked on the new report. “They contain caffeine and other stimulant substances that aren’t nutritional, so you don’t need them.” Experts fear that kids are more vulnerable to the contents of the drinks than adults because if you drink them on a regular basis, it stresses the body. You don’t really want to stress the body of a growing person.”

The report speaks of the jumble of ingredients in the energy drinks which include vitamins and various herbal extracts which could have potential side effects that are not yet entirely understood. The report acknowledges that while there are not many documented cases of harm linked directly to the drinks, the stimulants contained within can disrupt the hearts rhythm and in some rare cases can lead to seizures.

Benjamin states that she recently saw a 15 year-old boy with ADHD who came to the hospital suffering from a seizure after drinking two bottles of Mountain Dew, a soft drink containing caffeine. The boy had also been taking stimulant ADHD medications and perhaps the combination of the drug and the extra caffeine had pushed him over the edge.

Why Energy Drinks Should Carry A Health Warning

March 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Childrens Health, featured, Health

Kids love them, and office workers pop the can to raise their flagging energy levels but many of the popular energy drinks (particularly in the US) can contain high levels of unregulated ingredients which could pose a health risk – particularly to children, adolescents, and young adults.
The main problem is caffeine overdose and the review found that almost half of 5,448 such overdoses reported in 2007 involved people under age 19, according to University of Miami research.  Many energy drinks contain 70 to 80 mg of caffeine per 8-oz. serving — about three times the concentration in cola drinks and surveys suggest that up to half of the energy drinks on the market are consumed by adolescents and young adults.
Other ingredients the review identified that are common to energy drinks, included taurine, L-carnitine, ginseng, guarana and yohimbine. Every gram of guarana contains 40 to 80 mg of caffeine, as well as theobromine and theophylline. Interaction with other plant compounds has the potential to increase the half-life of guarana. The authors also found a potential for drug interactions with certain energy-drink ingredients, such as 5-hydroxy tryptophan, vinpocetine, yohimbine, and ginseng.
Energy drinks have been linked to serious adverse effects in young people, including seizures, diabetes, cardiac abnormalities, and mood and behavioural disorders – none of which concern the consumers it seems. Marketed in more than 140 countries, energy drinks are the fastest growing segment of the soft drinks market and it is children, adolescents and young adults (ages 19 to 25) who account for half of the energy-drink market.
Among countries that have collected data on adverse effects associated with energy drinks, Germany has maintained records since 2002 and documented effects that included liver damage, kidney failure, respiratory disorders, agitation, seizures, psychotic conditions, rhabdomyolysis, tachycardia and cardiac arrhythmias, hypertension, heart failure, and death.  Ireland documented 17 incidents, including two deaths, between 1999 and 2005. New Zealand reported 20 energy drink-associated incidents, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, jitteriness,” racing heart, and agitation.
Taken to give a ‘buzz’ these drinks – like most things – are fine in moderation, but the problem lies particularly with children with underlying health problems.  These include cardiovascular, renal, or liver disease, seizures, diabetes, mood and behavioural disorders, hyperthyroidism — or those who take certain medications.  Children with these conditions may be especially vulnerable to the adverse effects of high doses of caffeine and other ingredients found in energy drinks.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration limits caffeine content in soft drinks, which are categorized as food, but there is no such regulation of energy drinks, which are classified as dietary supplements.  The amount of research into them has been extremely limited – as should be their consumption, by children and adults with cardiac conditions as too much caffeine is good for neither group

Energy drinks can take more than they give

October 5, 2008 by  
Filed under Food & Nutrition, Health

Let’s face it, we all need an energy boost from time to time and an occasional hit of caffeine or sugar is not a problem. But a new source of ‘instant lift’ is causing health concerns. Energy drinks have been popular for years, and just look in your local supermarket and you will plenty of choice. Most contain sugar, colour and caffeine and sometimes ginseng and taurine as well, and they are a popular pick me up during working hours.

Now, a study published this week in the journal ‘Drug and Alcohol Dependence’ is raising concerns about the possibility of caffeine intoxication from energy drinks. This is a topic I have mentioned before, but it’s worth repeating. Energy drinks are usually much smaller cans than the equivalent soft drink, but the amount of caffeine in some of them is the equivalent of 14 cans of Coca-Cola. Caffeine is listed as an ingredient, but not the amount, because energy drinks are designated as dietary supplements, not food products.

They feel that anyone drinking several of these a day is in danger of caffeine intoxication, which is a recognized clinical syndrome. If you have ever over-indulged in coffee during stress or crisis you might recognise the symptoms of nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, stomach upset, tremors, rapid heartbeat, restlessness and pacing. In rare cases, caffeine intoxication can cause death so it’s not something to take lightly.

We know from previous research that too much caffeine is causing increased toxicity in our bodies, and there is also the other important factor with all soft drinks which is that the phosphoric acid they all contain leaches calcium from the bones and can lead to osteoporosis.

AND THAT’S NOT ALL Additionally, many of these drinks – particularly the low-calorie versions – contain the artificial sweetener aspartame. This is a concern because, according to new research by South African scientists from the University of Pretoria, a high intake of aspartame may lead to the degeneration of brain cells, compromised learning and emotional functioning and various mental disorders.

The research found that aspartame, marketed as NutraSweet, Equal, Canderal and Tropicana Slim, leads to both direct and indirect changes in the brain when consumed in high quantities. Among these effects, the chemical can disrupt amino acid metabolism and structure, degrade nucleic acids, and interfere with the function of nerve cells and hormonal systems. It also appears to change the concentration of certain neurotransmitters in the brain.

The researchers also noted that aspartame appears to cause excessive signaling of nerve cells, and nerve cell damage or even death. By disrupting the functioning of the cells’ mitochondria, or energy source, aspartame leads to a cascade of effects on the whole system.

As I’ve always said, give me old-fashioned sugar and hold the chemicals!