The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Fad drinks bring additional changes

By Esther Cho/reporter

   The concept of a beverage that gives people wings seems to help energy drinks soar in the marketplace, but some health professionals remain leery.
   Named Rockstar, Monster or Full Throttle, energy drinks have sprouted in brand variations and sales.
   According to market research conducted by Mintel International Group, the energy drink market is a $1.1 billion industry with a growth of more than 700 percent between 2001 and 2005.
   Crystal Castro, TCC student, drinks one or two Red Bulls everyday while balancing her life.
   “ I have a little girl, go to school full-time and work,” she said.
   She drinks them even though she views them as unhealthy.
   “ My brother-in-law was drinking energy drinks everyday,” she said. “Maybe two or three because he had to wake up at 1 a.m.”
   Castro said when he stopped, he would experience withdrawals and blackouts.
   Castro said when she drinks energy drinks, she does not sleep well and feels tired without Red Bull.
   Jean Lanier, TCC chemistry professor, said there is not enough research to cause great alarm.
   “ Unless you’ve got a problem where you need to limit caffeine or sugar, you’re probably okay, as long as you don’t go overboard on it,” she said. “Too much of anything is bad.”
   Janet Heath, adjunct nutrition instructor, said consumers should look at the first three ingredients listed on a food label. From her findings, energy drinks contain mostly sugar water and caffeine.
   Heath said these power drinks are unnecessary and expensive, considering what consumers pay for.
   “I don’t even know why they were even developed,” she said. “We’ve been fine with water; we’re fine with Coca Cola.”
   Dolores Kearney, instructor of dietetics, said, “The term energy drinks is a misnomer.”
   “ These drinks do not give any extra energy above the normal calories amount,” she said. “What they give is a stimulant effect because of their very high caffeine content. There are some very real health concerns with these drinks.”
   Kearney said concerns include dehydration, cardiac dysrhythmia (irregular heart beat) and insomnia.
   Both Heath and Kearney agree energy drinks should not be used for replenishment when exercising.
   “ The energized feeling is actually twitchiness and nervousness, not what you are looking for to increase athletic performance,” Kearney said.
   According to a Star-Telegram article, Charles Stuart Platkin, medical writer, said most studies agree that a moderate amount of about 200 milligrams of caffeine a day is safe for most adults.
   Platkin also said it is possible that a little coffee might give someone an edge, but benefits could be reduced once a certain limit is reached.
   Kids should limit themselves to 100 milligrams per day, equivalent of three cans of cola, according to an article in Consumer Reports. Energy drinks usually contain 70-80 milligrams of caffeine per serving.
   Kearney said most health care professionals agree “energy drinks are not appropriate for children.”
   Heath said energy drinks contain other ingredients that will add to the caffeine perk.
   Ginseng, an herb, exacerbates the effects of caffeine, Health said.
   Taurine, another common ingredient found in energy drinks, is an amino acid that also boosts the effects of caffeine, Heath said.
   Dr. Laurence Sperling, a cardiologist from Emory University School of Medicine, said in a CNN article that multiple glasses of this concoction pose significant potential dangers such as a racing heartbeat and raised blood pressure.
   These factors can lead to heart problems, Heath said.
   “ [A racing heart] is working twice as hard as it should,” she said. “It’s like carrying extra weight.”
   Some energy drinks have warning labels for pregnant women and children and limitations of three cans per day, Heath said.
   “ This stuff is powerful if they have to put consumer responsibility on it,” she said. “That’s a red flag.”
   Even more of a problem, Heath said, involves the mixing of energy drinks with alcohol.
   “ Energy drinks are a stimulant; alcohol is a depressant,” she said. “Both energy drinks and alcohol are dehydrates.”
   “ The more dehydrated you are, the higher the blood alcohol level,” Kearney said.
   Kearney said this means a person is more drunk than they realize.
   Though many turn to energy drinks to stay awake and active, Heath and Kearney advise otherwise. Heath said people should swap energy drinks for adequate rest and a healthy diet.
   “ We recommend nutrient-dense foods,” Kearney said. “That means foods that provide many vitamins and minerals with the calories.”

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