Energy drinks are becoming the beverage of choice for many young people, and as their popularity rises, so do the sales numbers. Although soft drinks still sell the most of all cold drinks, energy drinks continue to chip away, claiming a larger percentage of the lucrative market each year.
Much of the gain in popularity of energy drinks has to do with aggressive marketing campaigns directed primarily at young people. Hip and edgy advertisements promise that energy drinks will ignite your mind, refresh your body, help you party like a rock star, and enhance your performance and stamina.
Energy drinks are especially popular among college students looking for something to help them stay alert during all-night study sessions. Of course, they are also used to mix popular alcoholic drinks and cocktails.
Energy drinks with names like Rock Star, Monster, Red Bull, Full Throttle, Spike, Amp and Life Force all sell the image of strength, energy and speed. Slick and colorful packaging increases the attraction for users lured by the “cool” factor.
Although young people make up the largest percentage of users, energy drinks appeal to anyone who feels like they need an extra boost, and these days, that means most of us. Energy drinks appeal to truck drivers trying to stay awake for the long haul, computer programmers, young professionals, and athletes hoping to increase performance.
Energy Drinks Have Double the Caffeine of Soft Drinks
Caffeine is the primary ingredient in energy drinks, with most drinks containing twice the amount of caffeine as soft drinks
Ingredients making up the remainder of energy drinks vary widely, but sugar is generally the secondary ingredient, in itself an energy booster for most people. One container of energy drink will have between 14 and 17 teaspoons of sugar, and if several cans are consumed, that’s a tremendous amount of sugar. Many health professionals recommend a limit of 12 teaspoons of sugar per day.
Other ingredients vary from brand to brand, and are often herbal, allowing the producer to promote the drink as healthy and nutritious. Most of these herbal ingredients are energy boosters.
Taurine is an amino acid that is found naturally in the body. A person’s taurine balance can become depleted during extreme physical exertion and high stress. It is also believed to have antioxidant properties that can enable the body to dispose of toxins and harmful substances more efficiently.
L-Carnitine is another amino acid found naturally in the human body, believed to increase energy and metabolism.
Many energy drinks contain herbs such as ginseng and guarana root, which are thought to be healthy ingredients that increase energy and reduce stress; or ginkgo biloba, which is believed to aide memory and concentration.
Possible Risks of Energy Drinks
The high levels of caffeine in energy drinks can create problems for many consumers. Caffeine is a stimulant, and is known to be mildly addictive. When used excessively, it can create stomach ulcers, nervousness, headaches and heart palpitations, but how much caffeine it takes to cause problems varies from person to person.