Although energy drinks are popular with young adults, with 30 to 50 percent of young adults and teens consuming them, there can be some disadvantages to drinking these beverages. This is especially true in the case of children and teenagers, because they cannot safely consume as much caffeine as adults, although adults could have issues as well, particularly if they mix energy drinks with alcohol.
High Caffeine Content
Reports of caffeine intoxication due to energy drinks are increasing, notes a study published in “The Medical Journal of Australia” in August 2012. The caffeine content in energy drinks can be as high as 300 milligrams per serving, according to a May 2008 article published in the “Journal of the American Pharmacists Association,” and caffeine at these levels could cause headache, insomnia, nervousness and a rapid heartbeat. More serious side effects from consuming excessive caffeine include arrhythmia, vomiting, seizures, disrupted sleep patterns and increased blood pressure.
High Sugar Content
Many energy drinks are also very high in sugar, containing up to 35 grams of sugar per serving. This is above the recommended amount of added sugars for women of 25 grams per day and very close to the recommended daily limit of 37.5 grams per men. Consuming a lot of added sugars increases your risk for obesity, because added sugars provide extra calories.
Mixing with Alcohol
Mixing energy drinks with alcohol can make you feel that you are less physically and mentally impaired than you really are, according to an article published in the “Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine” in July 2010. The authors also note that the caffeine in energy drinks could increase the speed with which the alcohol is absorbed by your body while making it more likely you will stay awake long enough to consume more alcohol than you would otherwise be able to. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has made it illegal to sell premixed alcoholic energy drinks due to safety concerns.
You can decrease the risks associated with energy drinks if you stick to the recommended limits, which are often listed on the labels of the drink, or limit your consumption to no more than one serving per day. The extra ingredients in energy drinks, which often include amino acids, taurine, guarana and ginseng, are usually added in such small amounts that they are unlikely to provide any beneficial health effects or cause any negative side effects, according to a “Journal of the American Pharmacists Association” article published in May 2008.