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General Health Channel
Reported May 11, 2012

Energy Crisis: Dangerous Drinks?

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- You could call it an energy crisis. In the last four years alone, ER visits associated with non-alcoholic energy drinks increased by about 12,000. There have been more than one-thousand reported cases of energy drink overdoses and adverse reactions. Still, they’re flying off store shelves!

"They were desperately trying to save him," Cheryl James, told Ivanhoe. "I mean he was 19 years old, you don’t die at 19, right?"

Two months after he graduated high school, Cheryl James buried her seemingly healthy son, Drew.

"I said some strangers are going to call and tell me what happened to my son, and I rather you guys call and tell me what happened to my son," Cheryl said.

Cheryl says Drew’s friends told her they saw him vomit and suffer seizures before he died.

"They brought me a can of monster nitrous and pretty much said they were almost confident that’s what killed drew," she said.

Drew’s autopsy was inconclusive, but there have been numerous documented deaths and seizures associated with alcohol-free energy drinks.

"What’s on the label doesn’t necessarily mean what’s in the drink, and the amounts don’t necessarily coordinate either," Mindy black, a registered dietician, explained.

Mindy black says a key ingredient to check for is caffeine. Too much can cause heart palpitations, seizures or sudden death. In some cases it can trigger unknown preexisting heart conditions.

"They don’t recommend you to have more than 300 mg of caffeine a day and kids should not have more than 100," Black said.

Kids under 12 don’t need more than 80. Also important is sugar.

"If we had 2 of these [drinks] a day for a week that’s almost a pound a week in fat," Black said.

1 amp energy drink is equal to six glazed donuts. One full throttle equals eleven butter croissants! And for the cans that tout extra energy boosters like taurine, ginseng, ginko or guarana, Black says don’t pay extra money because the amounts that they put in the can are not enough to actually work. If you’re looking for a boost switch energy drinks for water! 75 percent of Americans are chronically dehydrated, a top reason for fatigue!

"If we’re dehydrated a lot of our organs and vital systems are slowing down which can make us lethargic and tired," Black said.

Drinking cold water can increase energy for up to two hours. Also, don’t skip meals.

"Most Americans only get 10 grams of fiber a day, we actually need more like 30,"Black said.

A diet rich in fiber, B-vitamins, magnesium and omega-3’s will help boost and stabilize energy. Some of the best snacks to get you out of a funk are almonds, edamame, oatmeal, whole wheat toast, greek yogurt and low-fat popcorn. They’re packed with things to help recharge your battery! Finally, get moving!

"Just a 10 minute brisk walk will increase your energy stores for about 2 hours," Black said.

If you insist on a drink, Black says go with ‘5 hour energy.’ While the sugar free shot is made up of key vitamins and amino acids, the label doesn’t show if there’s enough of each to be effective.

"Some people say if it works, and it’s in your head than it’s worth it," Black said.

If you prefer energy in a can, Black says an occasional drink is no big deal, but too many, too often, can be toxic. Cheryl believes her son is proof of that danger.

"I definitely never thought it would be a drug they sell in the store that would kill my son," Cheryl said.

While some energy drinks have the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, experts say the addition of other stimulants is what makes them more dangerous. People who should stay away from energy drinks include kids under 12, people taking certain medications, or those who have heart disease or hypertension. MORE

More Information

Click here for additional research on Energy Crisis: Dangerous Drinks?

Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Mindy Black

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew Mcintosh at amcintosh@ivanhoe.com

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