Does Your Heart Really Need Five Hours Of Energy?

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Energy drinks (credit: CBS)

Energy drinks (credit: CBS)

Recent Blog Entries From Dr. Dave Hnida


Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorOver the past few days, the FDA has been flying a cautionary flag about energy drinks — not coming out and calling them a health risk, instead saying they have their eye on them.

The concern is over four products in particular: Red Bull, RockStar, 5 Hour Energy and Monster.

Now the FDA does NOT say these products will hurt you, but they are looking at reports that say they may hurt you. And perhaps that’s even unfair to say — I think the best way to put it is that they are seeing a few problems in people who drink these products, but that’s a long way from saying the products caused any problem.

Here’s the deal: the FDA gets reports of people who get anxiety, nausea, dizziness after consuming these drinks. They also hear reports of stroke and heart attack.

So are the drinks the cause?

Well. A lot of fingers get pointed at caffeine, since these products can contain, roughly, 160-215 mg of caffeine. Thats about triple found in some soft drinks, and a little more than a McDonald’s large coffee.

But hold on — some Starbucks products have 330 mg of caffeine yet we haven’t heard people dropping dead after a grande (except, maybe, from the price.)

No, the issue may be more about the vitamins and amino acids in energy products, particularly one called phenylalanine. That’s an amino acid that some people genetically cannot metabolize.

Kind of complicated, since there’s little study on these things in drinks — but you know more is yet to come.

So what do you do? Frankly I’m not really sure what to think … yet.

I know a few docs who suck down Monsters like water. And I admit I guzzled a decent amount of Red Bull in Iraq, especially in the middle of the night.

Looking back, I actually started to stay away from it because I just didn’t feel right after sucking down a can, but then again, people were occasionally mortaring me at the time.

I’d be cautious in terms of how many of these drinks your kids are drinking. They may be more sensitive. And they don’t stop with just one. Plus, these drinks shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol (I know , I know– it makes for a great drink — but let me call you a knucklehead now since 1) It makes you artificially hip and 2) it allows you to drink more alcohol before passing out in a death coma.)

So bottom line, a little caution. See the above, and otherwise be aware of subtle side effects. I’m not a big fan of these drinks, but not saying they’re deadly. but something’s not right here.

In the meantime, I think I will be sticking to conventional coffee, which I can dose myself comfortably.

RELATED: How Much Caffeine Is In Your Energy Drink?

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