Energry Drinks: Helpful Insights to Share with Your Teen

Energy drinks, such as Rockstar, Red Bull and Monster Energy Assault, contain about 160 milligrams of caffeine. More than 100 milligrams of caffeine a day is considered unhealthy for teens, according to a recent report.

“These drinks can be dangerous for teens,” wrote Dr. Kwabena Blankson, a U.S. Air Force major and an adolescent medicine specialist at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Va. In a recently published review of existing research on the subject in Pediatrics in Review, Blankson wrote, "They contain too much caffeine and other additives that we don't know enough about. Healthy eating, exercise and adequate sleep are better ways to get energy."

The amount of caffeine added to energy drinks is not currently regulated by the FDA. As a result, the amounts listed on the label may be inaccurate. Furthermore, many energy drinks include guarana, a caffeine-like ingredient that is usually not included in the caffeine count on the label. There is no official recommended limit for the amount of caffeine a person can consume, but excessive caffeine has been linked to a variety of adverse effects. The long-term consequences of repeated caffeine intake have not been studied in adolescents and could be severe.

The potential harms, caused mostly by too much caffeine or similar ingredients, include heart palpitations, seizures, strokes and even sudden death. In a recent study, subjects consumed a caffeinated beverage before undergoing biomedical tests. Relative to baseline, energy drink consumption produced negative effects on blood clotting and functioning of the inner lining of the blood vessels, which are essential to healthy blood circulation. These effects were small, but could be serious in the long term.

In addition, more than 1,000 cases of energy drink overdose and toxic side effects have been reported since October, when the American Association of Poison Control Centers started tracking them.

Instead of reaching for an energy drink, teens should consider some healthier ways to fuel the body. Snacking on fruit and vegetables is an excellent way to keep energy levels high, and they also provide nutritional value. Here are a few other simple ways to get more energy throughout the day:

Get more ZZZs. Studies show that a person needs at least 8 ½ hours of rest a night in order for energy levels to reach their maximum. But when it comes to sleep, teens usually get just seven hours.


Keep moving. For a quick fix of healthy energy, get up and be active! Exercise increases serotonin and dopamine – the body’s “feel good” chemicals.


Stay hydrated. Drink more H2O to stay more alert, for better focus and increased energy.

Instead of ingesting too much caffeine, remember the best energy is natural—the kind that comes from rest, physical activity and drinking plenty of water.

By Rachel Collins, Contributing Writer

Photo Credit: Dr. Kwabena Blankson, right, an Air Force pediatrician who specializes in adolescent medicine, speaks with a teen patient about the caffeine in her energy drink during an appointment at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Va., on Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013. (Amanda Lucier | The Virginian-Pilot)

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