The Buzz On Energy-Drink Caffeine

By  //  December 1, 2012

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn Share on Delicious Digg This Stumble This

Healthcare Consumer Update

(VIDEO by ABCNews)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Energy drinks were a highly active subset of the early soft drink industry. Coca Cola was originally developed in 1886 and marketed as an energy booster by a pharmacist in Atlanta, with its name derived from two known stimulants, cocoa leaves (a source of cocaine) and kola nuts (a source of caffeine).  The cocaine was removed from the recipe in 1903, but caffeine remains a staple ingredient. Today’s Coke (excluding the caffeine-free selections) ranges from 34-46 mg. of caffeine per 12-ounce can. 

Like just about everything in our evolved “extreme” culture, that amount of caffeine in Coke is not even on the chart of today’s energy drinks, which seem to be ubiquitous and expanding at an extraordinary rate. Caffeine is the main ingredient in meeting consumer expectation for these potions that promise to give us a buzz that keeps us alert and energized. 

Caffeine is effective at enhancing and maintaining alertness, boosting mental and physical performance, and even elevating mood. The problem is that it can also cause irritability, muscle tremors, nausea, headache, insomnia, rapid pulse, anxiety, abnormal heart rhythms, and raise blood pressure. However, for whatever reason, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has determined that energy drink labels don’t have to reveal how much caffeine the products pack. Nevertheless, use and abuse of energy drinks has been linked to at least 13 deaths that are now under investigation by the FDA (see video above). 

Before slugging back one or more of these get-up-and-go elixers, with names like Monster X, Rockstar and Full Throttle, make sure you know what’s in it. The article from excerpted below measures the amount of caffeine in 27 top-selling energy drinks and shots to help you make an informed decision about what is best for you and your family.

Consumer Reports, December 2012–They’re everywhere: beverages that promise to keep you energized, revved, and alert. But labels don’t have to reveal how much caffeine the products pack. We will. We measured the amount in 27 top-selling energy drinks and shots (see table below).

Parents should be especially vigilant in educating children and teens on the dangers of use and abuse of energy drinks.

We bought the drinks online or at stores in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York, and tested three lots of each product, choosing one flavor, usually fruit. We also sent shoppers to stores all across the U.S. to see where energy drinks are displayed. (Our shoppers usually found energy drinks near soda and juice, sometimes at checkout, and less often near alcoholic beverages. That’s good, since the potential for intoxication in people who mix energy drinks and alcohol is a concern.)

CLICK HERE to read the complete story on