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Energy Drinks

Energy drinks have unique safety concerns. They usually have high amounts of caffeine, sugar and other herbal and vitamin ingredients, but little nutritional value.

Energy drinks are not recommended for children and teenagers1, pregnant or breastfeeding women and caffeine sensitive people.2
 

Potential Health Concerns

Healthcare providers report observing many conditions that may have been related to drinking energy drinks, including:

  • Dehydration
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Seizure
  • Agitation
  • Stroke3

Energy Drink Videos

The following videos were written and produced by our Health Unit Youth Leaders, with support from Health Unit staff, to show some of the issues with energy drinks.

Energy Drinks and Alcohol

Mixing energy drinks with alcohol may make you feel more alert and less drunk, but the alcohol still affects you in the same way.4 Tell your friends – energy drinks and alcohol don't mix. Read more about the dangers of alcohol and energy drinks.

 
 

Energy Drinks and the Crash

Drinking energy drinks can disrupt your sleep at night and increase your chance of falling asleep during the day.5 Tell your friends – avoid the crash. Lasting energy doesn’t come in a can!

 

 
 

Although not recommended for children and teenagers, energy drinks are often advertised using youth appealing packaging and product names and at youth oriented events (e.g., sporting events, alcohol-alternative promotions and product placement in video games).6

Health Canada says that companies are not allowed to promote energy drinks to children.7 If you see energy drinks promoted to children (e.g., through sampling or advertising at a children/youth focused event), provide the name of the energy drink company and related information to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency at 1-800-442-2342 or send the information online.

Health Canada set 180 mg as the highest caffeine amount in energy drinks for single serve containers. Even with this limit, children and adolescents may easily exceed their maximum safe caffeine amount8 and are at more risk for behavioural effects.9

Energy Drinks and Sugar

Most energy drinks are packed with sugar. One energy drink can have the same amount of sugar as 5½ large donuts.10 11 Tell your friends – you wouldn't eat this much sugar ... so why drink it?

 
 

Energy Drinks and Physical Activity

Energy drinks can have a negative impact on sports performance and increase the risk of dehydration. Drinking energy drinks before or during physical activity can cause muscle cramps, increased heart rate and vomiting.12 Tell your friends – energy drinks and physical activity don't mix.

 

 
 

If you know children or youth on minor sports teams, talk with the coach about having an energy drink free team policy. Although not recommended during physical activity, some Ontario fitness facilities sell energy drinks. If this is a concern to you, speak to your local fitness facility.

Speak with a health care professional before drinking energy drinks. Some ingredients (e.g., gingko biloba, ginseng) may interact with certain medications and are lacking long term safety and health impact data.13

Energy Without Energy Drinks

To stay energized keep it real…

  • Get enough sleep.

     If you get enough sleep you should not need caffeine to help you stay awake.
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet.

    Eat regularly throughout the day. Include meals and snacks from a variety of foods from each food group.
  • Stay active!

    Find activities that you can do and that you enjoy. Physical activity makes you feel more energetic and helps you feel good about yourself.
  • Stay hydrated.

    Choose water, unflavoured milk or unflavoured fortified soy beverages to stay hydrated.
 
Date of creation: March 5, 2013
Last modified on: August 1, 2017
 
 

References

1Health Canada. (2011). Health Canada’s proposed management approach in response to the expert panel on caffeinated energy drinks. Retrieved from
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/addit/caf/ced-response-bec-eng.php
2Health Canada. (2012). Caffeinated energy drinks. Retrieved from
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/prodnatur/caf-drink-boissons-eng.php
3Pennington, N., Johnson, M., Delaney, E., & Blankenship, M. (2010). Energy drinks: A new health hazard for adolescents. The Journal of School Nursing, 26(5), 352-359.
4Atlantic Collaborative on Preventative Injury. (2011). Caffeinated alcoholic beverages and injury. Author.
5Roehrs, T., & Roth, T. (2008). Caffeine: sleep and daytime sleepiness. Sleep Medicine Reviews, 12(2), 153-162.
6Seifert, S., Schaechter, J., Hershorin, E., & Lipshultz, S. (2011). Health effects of energy drinks on children, adolescents, and young adults. Pediatrics, 127, 511-528.
7Health Canada. (2012). Questions and answers: Caffeinated energy drinks. Retrieved from
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/prodnatur/questions-caf-eng.php
8Reissig, C., Strain, E., & Griffiths, R. (2009). Caffeinated energy drinks: A growing problem. Drug Alcohol and Dependence, 99(1-3), 1-10.
9Health Canada. (2010). It’s your health: Caffeine. Retrieved from
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/addit/caf/index-eng.php
10Health Canada. (2008). Nutrient value of some common foods. Ottawa, ON: Author.
11Klepacki, B. (2010). Energy drinks: A review article. Strength and Conditional Journal, 32(1), 37-41.
12Rath, M. (2012). Energy drinks: What is all the hype? The dangers of energy drink consumption. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, 24, 70-76.
13Dietitians of Canada. (2012). Current issues the inside story: Energy drinks revisited. Retrieved from PEN: The Global Resource for Nutrition Practice online database.