Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Buzz Buzz Buzz

So I was sitting at my desk, stranded at home due to ice, but that doesn't mean it had been a quiet morning. I was working from home, getting ready for a conference call, just finishing with the insurance adjuster, running a load of laundry, a load of dishes, and enjoying a the caffeine delivery system du jour - an energy drink.

Have you ever looked at what is actually IN an energy drink?

I am drinking a Red Strike energy drink. I have had many people tell me it tastes like Red Bull, but I disagree. Red Bull tastes like liquid Sweet Tarts. While Red Strike has some of this flavor, it has a little Mountain Dew flavor to it as well. All in all, pretty good. The price however, is HALF of what Red Bull runs, and this particular can was free, courtesy of Murphy's in Wilkesboro.

But back to my question, what is actually in an energy drink?

I guess let's start with a definition: What is an energy drink? Energy drinks are not sports drinks like Gatorade although there can be some overlap. Energy drinks generally contain high amounts of caffeine and carbohydrates as well as additional "special" ingredients like herbs, vitamins, amino acids, etc.
  • Caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant, and regular use of caffeine can cause mild physical dependence. But unlike many other addictive drugs, caffeine doesn't threaten your physical, social, or economic health (however, if you are buying a triple mocha half calf latte every day and following it up with a 5 Hour Energy later in the day, you may disagree).

Stopping "cold turkey" on your caffeine intake may produce drug-withdrawal type symptom
s for a day or so including anxiety, depression, fatigue, headache, irritability, and issues concentrating. Most experts don't consider caffeine dependence an addiction because caffeine does not cause the severity of withdrawal or harmful drug-seeking behaviors as street drugs or alcohol. (1)
  • Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are one of the main types of nutrients. They are the most important source of energy for your body. Your digestive system changes carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar). Your body uses this sugar for energy for your cells, tissues and organs. It stores any extra sugar in your liver and muscles for when it is needed.(2)

To use a car analogy, caffeine would be nitrous oxide and carbohydrates would be gasoline.
  • Taurine
Taurine acts as an antioxidant and protects against toxicity of various substances (such as lead and cadmium). Additionally, supplementation with taurine has been shown to prevent oxidative stress induced by exercise. In a 2008 study, taurine has been shown to reduce the risk factors of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease.(3)

  • D-Glucuronolactone

Taurine isn't without controversy though. Neither is D-Glucuronolactone. There are Vietnam ware related urban legends about the US and British government, but they have been proven false. Now it is used in energy drinks, however recent controversy surrounds a fatality that was reported after intake of 1420 ml of an energy drink.

Glucuronolactone is claimed to detoxify the body. Although levels of glucuronolactone in energy drinks can far exceed those found in the rest of the diet, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has concluded that exposure to glucuronolactone from regular consumption of energy drinks is not a safety concern (No Observed Adverse Effect Level of glucuronolactone = 1,000mg/kg/day).

  • Niacinamide (the amide of nicotinic acid - vitamin B3 / niacin)

Niacinamide does not have the same pharmacologic and toxic effects of niacin. This occurs incidental to niacin's conversion. Thus niacinamide does not reduce cholesterol or cause flushing, although it may be toxic to the liver at doses exceeding 3 g/day for adults. It has been reported to increase the endurance of mice. (4)

  • D-Calcium Patothenate (aka Vitamin B5)
Supplementation may improve oxygen utilization efficiency and reduce lactic acid accumulation in athletes.(5)

  • Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (aka Vitamin B6)

Pyridoxine assists in the balancing of sodium and potassium as well as promoting red blood cell production. It is linked to cardiovascular health by decreasing the formation of homocysteine. It may help balance hormonal changes in women and aid the immune system. Lack of pyridoxine may cause anemia, nerve damage, seizures, skin problems, and sores in the mouth.
(6)

Cyanocobalamin (aka
Vitamin B12)
Vitamin B12's main functions are in the formation of red blood cells and the maintenence of a healthy nervous system. Vitamin B12 is an especially important vitamin for maintaining healthy nerve cells and it aids in the production of DNA and RNA, the body's

genetic material. Cyanocobalamin works to promote normal growth and development, helps with certain types of nerve damage, and treats pernicious anemia.(7)

I'm beginning to think I need a prescription for an energy drink! The point of all the small print is though, is to get you to think, do you really need to put all that junk into yourself every day? Probably not. Once and a while is not a bad thing though. Personally, I'll take a cup a joe every day and maybe a vitamin B12 supplement in the morning.
Really the best prescription is common sense. Get to bed at a decent hour when possible. Get enough rest. Exercise moderately. Eat a good balanced diet. Common sense.(8)

Good night all!

Peace, Love, and Hollandaise Sauce!

(1) Web MD: http://www.webmd.com/balance/caffeine-myths-and-facts
(2) Medicine Plus: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/carbohydrates.html
(3) Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taurine
(4) Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicotinamide
(5) Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantothenic_acid
(6) Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyridoxine
(7) Vitamins & health supplements guide:
http://www.vitamins-supplements.org/vitamin-B12-cyanocobalamin.phps
(8) If common sense were common, then everyone would have it. Just checking if you were reading.