Energy drinks could prove hazardous to health
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 1, 2012 23:11
Monster Energy may have contributed to the deaths of five people, according to the Food and Drug Administration incident reports recently released.
According to a New York Times article entitled “Monster Energy Drink Cited in Deaths, “ the reports do not prove a connection between Monster energy drinks and the deaths. However, the report has brought the topic of the risk of energy drinks into the spotlight.
Since the FDA only requires nutrient amounts on food and drink labeling, companies are not required to state the amount of caffeine in a given product on its labeling, according to the FDA’s website. Caffeine found in things such as tea and coffee is considered a natural chemical, and when it is added to foods and drinks, like Monster, it is considered an ingredient, so while it must be listed with the other ingredients, the amount is not required on the labeling.
The amount of caffeine in energy drinks varies dramatically, according to Dr. Megan Colletto, a sports nutritionist and registered dietitian at UConn Student Health Services, from 50 mg to 500 mg in a given drink.
“Caffeine overload can cause nervousness, cardiac rhythm abnormalities, increased blood pressure, nausea anxiety (13 percent of people experience withdrawals characterized by headache and irritability),” Colletto said in an email.
What is listed on the nutrient labels are a string of vitamins. Monster Rehab® Green Tea + Energy list vitamins C, B3, B5, B6, B12, to name a few. While this may create an illusion that Monster provides a nutritional energy boost, in reality the vitamins contained in most energy drinks to not occur in large enough doses to create an effect.
Colletto said, “The ingredients list may contain a large list of hard to pronounce items all claiming to increase energy or may only contain vitamins/antioxidants. Since ingredients like ginseng are often not included in large enough doses to cause any effects, and vitamins/antioxidants are found in a healthy diet, caffeine and sugar content are really what we are looking at and what we do not want to go overboard on.”
Energy drinks, including Monster, are sold at UConn. Students who turn to energy drinks can do so in a safe manner. Colletto advises keeping to one 16 oz. energy drink a day and cautioned against drinking alcohol and energy drinks, as that as the potential to cause an increase in destructive behavior, as well as negative physical side effects.
What effects these reports will have on Monster drinks is yet to be determined. Ann Taylor, a 3rd-semeseter pre-education major, said the reports will not stop her from drinking Monster.
“I know better than to drink a lot, “ she said. “If anything it confirms, to have just one.”