LPNI Health Topic - October 2015


Energy Drinks


When seeing an advertisement for energy drinks, do you want to try them? There are a number of popular brands, a few of these are Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar. The claim is to give one more energy, improve performance and increase concentration. These can be bought over the counter at any convenience store or food market. However, before purchasing the product, it is advisable to read the research and the personal testimonies that are readily available. These products can be considered non-regulated medications. Findings in the research are that the drinks contain more caffeine than 5 cups of coffee. They also contain guarana plant which has the similar effect of caffeine, the amino acid taurine, carbohydrates in the form of sugar and small amounts of vitamins. These beverages are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and do not come with any warning signs as do alcohol and tobacco products. They are often labeled as dietary supplements rather than food. Further, the companies are not required to identify all of the contents in the drink.
In the literature there are reports of seizures, strokes and even deaths occurring especially in young people and the elderly. Other physical concerns are withdrawal from the caffeine which can produce symptoms of severe headache, feeling tired, having trouble concentrating and unable to get adequate sleep or quality rest. Definitely alcohol should not be consumed with an energy drink. The caffeine can mask the effects of the alcohol. Individuals may feel that they are not as intoxicated a blood alcohol level may show. Mixing caffeine with alcohol may cause one to drink more because the caffeine may keep one awake longer, though not necessarily more alert and cognizant.
Energy drinks are not safe for children and teens to consume. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the amount of caffeine in the energy beverage can cause high blood pressure, sleep problems, abnormal heart rate and increased blood sugar which can result in an untimely death. If there are existing medical problems, they can be exacerbated when drinking even a small amount of the beverage.
Additionally in pregnancy, a small amount of caffeine is considered safe for a developing baby; however, in pregnancy it is not wise to have more than 200 mg. of caffeine a day, which is about the same amount in 2 cups of coffee. More caffeine than that may be related to a higher rate of miscarriage and can interfere with normal sleep patterns for both the mother and the fetus.
There are at least 3 things to consider before consuming energy drinks. 1) Water is almost always the best choice of fluid before, during and after physical activity. 2) Do not confuse energy drinks with sports drinks. These 2 different types of beverages do not contain the same ingredients. 3) Do not encourage or support the use of energy drinks for children, teens, the elderly or those with serious medical problems.
Inform those who consume the energy drinks of the risks that are involved, especially when individuals are exercising, drinking alcohol, pregnant or nursing, have a pre-existing heart condition or under the age of 18. The energy drinks could be harmful to health. Knowledge is
power, and good health information can save lives. The more informed individuals can be, the better decisions they can make. Keeping the following Bible verse in mind, can be very good for one’s health. So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (1Corinthians 10:31).
Mary Hume, RN
Parish Nurse Representative for LCMS Kansas USA
Parish Nurse at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Topeka, Kansas USA.