Energy drinks have been increasing in popularity, especially among teens and children. Due to several articles in the media about negative health effects experienced by people who consumed too many energy drinks, some parents and school personnel have become concerned about their growing popularity specifically among teens and children. However, if you are aware of how much caffeine you are consuming, people of all ages can safely consume energy drinks in moderation. Caffeine is the primary ingredient in most energy drinks, and is often blamed for causing the negative health effects some people have experienced after consuming too many energy drinks. However, the majority of the healthy population can safely enjoy moderate amounts of caffeine without experiencing undesirable symptoms. Staying aware of how much caffeine you are consuming each day from energy drinks, as well as other sources such as coffee, tea, soda, dietary supplements, and medications, is important to stay within moderate, safe intake levels. Learning how to determine the caffeine content of each item, as well as the number of servings per container, will help you to know how to moderate your consumption. You can also help children and teens learn how to moderate their consumption so that they can safely enjoy an energy drink or soda responsibly without risking undesirable symptoms. Below are some common questions consumers have about energy drinks and how they work to increase feelings of energy, and what you can do to help children and teens consume them in moderation along with a healthful diet. Q: What are energy drinks?
A: The term “energy drink” is a popular term used to refer to some beverages that typically contain caffeine as well as other ingredients, such as taurine, guarana, and B vitamins, for the purpose of providing an extra energy boost. It is not a term that is recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Q: What are the most common ingredients in energy drinks, and what do they do? A: Some common ingredients in energy drinks include caffeine, taurine, guarana, ginseng, B vitamins and L-carnitine. More about what these ingredients are and why they’re added to energy drinks is provided below: Caffeine is included in energy drinks for its potential to improve mental and physical performance and for its taste profile. As it is often the primary ingredient in energy drinks, we will address more questions about caffeine below. Taurine is an amino acid that the body makes from the foods we eat. High levels of taurine are present in animal products (beef, pork, lamb, chicken, etc.), while some fish and shellfish contain the highest amounts of taurine (ex. cod, clams, and oysters). Taurine supports neurological development and helps regulate water and mineral salt levels in the blood. It is included in energy drinks because some studies have suggested that it may improve athletic performance. Additionally, some studies propose caffeine andtaurine together may improve athletic performance, and perhaps even mental performance. In a report published in 2003, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) concluded that studies have not shown a link between taurine consumption and cancer, and that both taurine and its components occur naturally in humans and are broken down and excreted by the body. In addition, in 2009 EFSA’s Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food (ANS) concluded in a scientific opinion that regular consumption of these ingredients in energy drinks is not a safety concern. Guarana is a plant that comes from South America, and guarana-containing drinks and sodas are widely consumed in Brazil. Guarana contains caffeine, and is actually denser in caffeine than coffee beans. It is therefore added to energy drinks for the same reason as caffeine - to increase feelings of energy and to improve mental and physical performance. Guarana content is not typically...
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