We seniors may not be knocking back those oh-so-popular energy drinks, but you can be sure that your grandchildren and possibly even your children have tried them. Young people and especially teens and twenties who are fitness conscious are the best market for this huge market.
But, what about senior health? Are these drinks good for us? What are the pros and cons of using such a product? First, let’s examine their content. Most energy drinks contain one of more of the following:
Each five oz. energy drink may contain the equivalent of the caffeine found in several cups of coffee.
Taurine is an amino acid thought to enhance neurological function.
The B Vitamin Group
B vitamins enhance muscular, metabolic and nervous systems. They are water soluble so drinking water with them will lessen their effect.
Students and athletes are the primary users of these drinks. We all know the jolt caffeine can give us to wake up and be fully alert. Students with the need to study long hours before exams and those with an important presentation to give may feel a positive energy boost when drinking these products. Some believe the energy drinks help to improve memory, concentration and reaction time. They prevent or overcome fatigue. Many use the products late in the afternoon when we all tend to experience a need for greater alertness and focus.
Athletes often use these drinks to enhance a workout. They feel they can train harder and longer—push their physical limits for maximum physical benefits. Some believe the drinks prevent dehydration—a common result of hard workouts.
In addition, energy drinks are convenient and readily available. It’s quicker to drink the five ounce drink than to brew a pot of coffee or stop at a coffee drive-through.
The biggest cautions when using energy drinks come from over-use and possible addiction. We all know the results of too much caffeine—the jittery feeling that stresses our systems. In addition nearly all of these drinks contain a large amount of sugar; as much as 8-10 teaspoons per drink. This mean that energy drinks used regularly will add weight to your body.
Health professionals have concerns that energy drinks may stress the heart, particularly when overused by young people. The caffeine can cause irregular and rapid heartbeats and increased blood pressure. Psychological problems such as addiction and insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns may also occur. Withdrawal symptoms may include headaches and mood swings. Another health concern is metabolic problems stemming from putting the body in overdrive to process all the sugars and stimulants in the drinks. The overdrive condition produces stress hormones. Additionally, sugar and caffeine prevent absorption of positive nutrients in the body.
As with many over the counter kinds of items, it is wisdom to use them in moderation. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic recommend that a user limit intake to 16 oz. per day. They also encourage users to drink water when using energy drinks and to refrain from taking them at all if there are any health concerns such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart conditions and the like. Pregnant women should not take them and they should never be used in combination with alcohol as alcohol is a depressant and the energy drinks are a stimulant. Such a combination puts undue stress on the body.
If you are interested in natural ways to enhance focus and alertness, you may want to research natural products with these claims. Some of the natural ways to enhance energy are by taking kava, gingko balboa, ginseng and guarana. As always, check with your health professional before adding any product to your daily regime.
For more information on the pros and cons of consuming energy drinks go to:
www.symptomfind.com/nutrition-supplements (search energy drinks)
www.nationwidechildrens.org ( search energy drinks)