Energy drinks boost more than energy

Leah Polakoff, In-Depth Editor

Red Bull doesn’t just give you wings.

It gives you up to triple the amount of sugar that is recommended in one day in addition to a caffeine rush so intense that it elevates your heart rate to a point that could prove to be fatal.

Twenty-one-year-old England native Chloe Leach died in 2009 from a heart condition brought on by drinking too many Red Bulls. According to a Fox News article, the hull coroner Geoffrey Saul said that he was “confident the cardiac arrhythmia was the cause of her death.”

The label warns children and pregnant women not to consume what’s inside, and yet many people rely on this surge of caffeine to get them through their day. With heavy workloads and an infinite number of daily tasks, many people find that it’s hard to get enough sleep. They search to find something that will keep them awake.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) suggests that people consume no more than 40 grams of sugar per day. One can of Rockstar Punched Guava has 102 grams of sugar and the popular energy drink Red Bull contains 54 grams of sugar in one 16.8 oz can.

Music teacher Daniel Briggs admits to depending heavily upon Red Bull with his busy lifestyle. While trying to balance his job and his own schoolwork, Briggs follows a demanding schedule that doesn’t allow much time for sleep. As an alternative, he grabs energy drinks to pump him up. “Coffee isn’t good enough for me,” Briggs said. “I need something I can grab and go.”

But others with the same mentality as Briggs have suffered the consequences. In 2000, 18-year-old Irish Ross Cooney died after drinking four cans of Red Bull and then playing a game of basketball. This death led to the ban of Red Bull in France.

The excessive amount of sugar and caffeine in one can has the potential to raise blood pressure and heart rate to an unhealthy level, making these drinks especially bad for athletes.

Dr. Edward Group said in an article from Global Healing Center that caffeine can make people have anxiety attacks, heart palpitations, and insomnia. “For people to utilize energy drinks during exercise or other strenuous activity compounds the problem of dehydration, and does nothing to provide the body with any necessary nutrients or fluids,” Group said.

School nurse Laura Frank said that because a person’s heart rate is elevated when someone drinks an energy drink and works out, they are exerting themselves too much. She believes that energy drinks should have an age limit and certain restrictions, like cigarettes do.

“At 16 and 17, your brain isn’t formed enough to make those decisions. Energy drinks could end up being as dangerous as cigarettes in the long run,” Frank said.

People can be warned numerous times about the dangers of energy drinks, but, like smoking, Frank  believes people will continue to use them regardless.

“My favorite energy drink would have to be Spike,” junior Tom Hancock said. “They put the maximum amount of caffeine in every can before it is illegal.”

Because the massive amounts of sugar and caffeine go to work in minutes, the effects don’t last long, causing people to consume multiple energy drinks in one day.

“I know that energy drinks are bad for my health, but sometimes I need a boost of energy to keep  going or to stay up late to get something done. I once drank four energy drinks and it made me loco,” senior Brett Prochazka said.

Doctor Katherine Zeratsky said in a Mayo Clinic article that the energy boost given from an energy drink is only temporary. “The boost is short lived,” Zeratsky said.

People who drink energy drinks are not only tripling their daily intake of sugar, they are putting unnatural ingredients into their bodies. Along with caffeine and sugar, taurine is an ingredient commonly found in energy drinks. Although it has been proven false, an urban legend says that taurine derives from the sperm of a bull.

Along with France, Norway and Denmark have prohibited Red Bull after a study showing that taurine has major effects on the body. Rats who were fed taurine showed bizarre behavior and self-mutilation.

But Briggs isn’t convinced by the different reports. “To me, science has not been able to make up their minds on what’s good for you. I feel it’s the same way with Red Bull. These are studies that change,” Briggs said.

Based on the many opposing views on energy drinks, it’s highly doubtful that a Mr. Yuck sticker will be appearing on Rockstar cans anytime soon. But people are becoming more aware of what these drinks can do.

Still, Briggs refuses to give up his fast-paced lifestyle. “I can sleep when I’m dead,” he said.

So while many people continue to chug a Red Bull before class or a big game, the effects these drinks have on your health are becoming well known.

“I recommend all people avoid drinking energy drinks, they only add more toxins to an already toxin burdened body and decrease our bodies internal water supply and natural detoxification processes,” Group said.

Flight won’t last long with the wings Red Bull gives, but to some, the sensation of soaring is worth the risk of falling.

Polakoff can be reached for comment at [email protected]