Some important points to ponder about energy drinks:

 Manufacturers of energy drinks are not required by law to state where the ingredients originated, whether they were sprayed with pesticides or other toxins, or if they have been in contact with contaminated water because they tout “contains natural ingredients.”   They  contain certain herbs, such as taurine and ginseng.  However,  it is impossible to verify the safety of these drinks.

  One certain beverage is an energy supplement that claims to result in “twice the buzz of a regular energy drink,” as stated by their website.  Other popular energy drinks contain many similar ingredients that boost energy.  The primary ingredient that enables drinks to cause an energy boost is caffeine.  A 16-oz. can of one energy drink contains 160 mg of caffeine.  There are less than 47 mg of caffeine in 16 oz. of Coca Cola.  Caffeine has been labeled as a stimulant, therefore it is a drug.

The potential side effects to caffeine  include heart palpitations, elevated blood pressure, headaches, insomnia, and jitters.  When used regularly, it can cause caffeine addiction, leaving energy seekers needing to ingest more and more of the drink to achieve the effects.  These effects can cause drastic changes in energy levels.  Although an instant surge in energy appears, it is followed by a period of diminished energy.  Called “jolts and crashes,” a study of 500 college students indicated that these effects were experienced by 29 percent of subjects who drank energy drinks.  Also, 22 percent experienced headaches, and 29 percent had heart palpitations.

Now, one such drink has been blamed for at least four deaths and a heart attack since 2004, and the FDA has launched an investigation to determine the claims’ validity and possible health side effects by consuming these drinks.  One involves a lawsuit filed against the makers of  this drink, in which the parents of a deceased 14-year-old girl blame her drinking two cans of the energy drink in one day, resulting in her death.  The suit alleges that the company failed to warn of possible side effects of drinking the potent beverage, which is sold in 24-ounce cans.  The girl suffered a cardiac arrhythmia.  Although the fact that she had a condition that already weakened her blood vessels may have  played a part in her death, the suit states that the company should have advertised warnings of health risks rather than benefits of the drink.  The FDA was directed by leading Senators on Capitol Hill last month to launch an investigation into this matter.

We should avoid drinking anything or taking any type of pills, such as diet pills, that increase our heart rate.   Here’s something you should understand about your heart:

Cardioversion (KAR-de-o-VER-shun) is a procedure used to restore a fast or irregular heartbeat to a normal rhythm. A fast or irregular heartbeat is called an arrhythmia (ah-RITH-me-ah).  Arrhythmias can prevent your heart from pumping enough blood to your body. They also can raise your risk for stroke, heart attack, or sudden cardiac arrest.

My personal experience was an electrical problem in my heart, causing it to beat rapidly  – sometimes lasting for hours.  Finally, an electrophysiologist found my problem, an extra AV node in my heart, which caused the beating to go in circles, much as an idling motor.  It was very uncomfortable and at times, and frightening.  I am not about to take anything that would cause my heart to stay out of rthym. 

There are many ways of getting energy through healthy food, exercise and rest.  Good advice would be to leave anything that artificially speeds your heart up and later slows it down alone until the FDA determines if these energy drinks are safe.

 Sources: eHow; AP; Nutrition Journal