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Energy drinks are beverages that claim to “make you more alert and give you energy.” Most have ingredients like caffeine, sugar, taurine, vitamins and herbs. Energy drinks can be found anywhere you buy beverages beside the pop, juices and sports drinks.
Caffeine is one of the main ingredients in energy drinks. Health Canada has plans to limit the amount of caffeine found in energy drinks to 180 mg per serving. This is equal to the caffeine found in a medium size coffee. Health Canada says that most healthy adults can safely consume up to 400 mg of caffeine in a day.
The amount of caffeine in energy drinks is more than what is recommended for children. Health Canada says that children under 12 years of age should have less than 85 mg of caffeine per day depending on their age. This means that one energy drink can easily put children over their caffeine limits.
Too much caffeine can cause irritability, nervousness and sleeping problems. It is not recommended that children and young teenagers use energy drinks.
Sugar provides you with energy in the form of calories. Many energy drinks are sold in large can sizes that have lots of added sugar. Added sugars add extra calories to your diet, but have no nutritional value on their own.
Taurine is an amino acid which is a building block of protein. It has been claimed that adding taurine to energy drinks will make you more alert. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this. We also do not know the long term health effects of consuming taurine in energy drinks on a regular basis.
Many energy drinks contain herbs like Ginseng and Gingko Biloba. It has been claimed that these herbs improve performance. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. In addition, some herbs can interact with drugs (medications) and other supplements. Be sure to talk to your doctor about using these products if you are taking drugs or other supplements.
Energy drink makers may also add other ingredients that they say provide extra energy such as B vitamins and glucuronolactone (a type of carbohydrate). However, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims.
Maybe. While moderate use by adults is generally safe, side effects can happen if energy drinks are abused. Side effects can happen if energy drinks are mixed with alcohol or when too many are consumed at one time. Side effects that have been reported are irregular heartbeats and nervousness.
Energy drinks should not be used by children, pregnant or breastfeeding women. Energy drinks should never be mixed with alcohol and should not be used during exercise.
Yes. Energy drinks are currently sold as natural health products and fall under Canada’s Natural Health Product (NHP) regulations. Even though energy drinks are sold under NHP regulations, not all energy drinks have been approved for sale under these regulations. If the energy drink has a natural health product number (NPN) on the side of the can [look for the words NPN and an eight digit number] then it has been approved for sale. However, this does not mean it is safe for everyone. For example, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid energy drinks.
In the year 2013, energy drinks will be classified as a food and be required to have a nutrition facts table. The new guidelines are expected to be released between April and October 2013. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will then be responsible for monitoring the safety and content of energy drinks.
No. Water is your best choice during most types of activity. Use a sports drink during long or intense exercise. Sports drinks have specific amounts of sugar and salts (such as sodium and potassium). The sugar helps to keep you exercising longer and harder while the salts help replace some of the nutrients you lose when you sweat.
Energy drinks are not the same as sports drinks. They tend to be higher in sugar which can make them harder to absorb during exercise and could cause stomach upset. Drinking energy drinks during exercise can lead to dehydration.
Before you use energy drinks remember:
For more information:
Safe Use of Energy Drinks, Health Canada
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