It is a well-known fact that large amounts of caffeine can affect your health and your heart. Therefore, beware! Many energy drinks – purported to dietary supplements are anything but nutritional. They contain lots of sweeteners – and caffeine. Lots of it.
A recent study by Johns Hopkins scientists reported that many energy drinks could actually contain 5 to 10 times more caffeine than a can of coke or a cup of coffee. However, we consumers do not know it because the actual amount is not reflected on the label.
Softdrinks, according to US FDA requirements can contain a maximum of 71 mg caffeine in a 12-ounce can. Popular sodas such as Coke and Pepsi contain about 35 mg of caffeine. A cup of brewed coffee contains a bit more – about 80 to 150 mg. Energy drinks, however, could contain up to 500 mg caffeine per can!
So you might want to ask, what wrong with caffeine?
Well caffeine is a stimulant that affects the central nervous system. It affects our moods, alter mind functioning, and makes the heart work faster. It is not well-known but there are actually many caffeine-related disorders. One is the so-called caffeine intoxication, a clinical syndrome recognized by the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases and the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Symptoms of caffeine intoxication include agitation, anxiety, insomnia, and heart palpitations.
Recently, there has been lots of concern about the potential abuse of caffeine through consumption of booster energy drinks among young people. These drinks are especially popular among the young as performance enhancers as they cram for exams and rush to finish term papers. The so-called “caffeine rush” has been described as jolts of energy that makes one feel alert and energetic. However, there also comes the “crash episodes” afterwards.
So how much caffeine is actually too much?
According to Mayo Clinic, caffeine depends on a lot of factors such as:
- Body mass
- History of caffeine use
- Smoking habits
- Food and alcohol intake
- Use of certain drugs
- Certain medical disorders
However, generally speaking 500 to 600 mg of caffeine intake per day is considered too much and can bring about the following symptoms:
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Muscle tremors
- Nausea, diarrhea or other gastrointestinal problems
High caffeine intake is indicated against people with heart disease and mental disorders, pregnant women and young children.
Caffeine, however, does have some medical value and are often used as additives to certain medications, including over-the-counter drugs. OTC cough syrup, for example, can make a person drowsy and not fit to drive or operate a machine. However, caffeine additives in the drug can counteract the sleepiness. However, as is in all medications, the exact caffeine content of these drugs are declared in the drug labels.
Experts are calling for a re-evaluation of the current requirements for energy drink labelling. After all, drugs and alcoholic drinks are required to reveal their contents in detail. With the health effects of caffeine and the potential for abuse, caffeine-energy drinks should also be subjected to such scrutiny and transparency requirements.