How safe are energy drinks? - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

How safe are energy drinks?

You might want to think twice before gulping down the entire can of your favorite energy drink.

The parents of a Maryland girl said they think the products killed their teen daughter, and they're taking Monster Energy Drink to court. The girl died from heart problems after she drank two Monster energy drinks in 24-hours.

The makers of Monster deny the claim. The FDA is now investigating reports of five deaths after people drank the energy drink.

At this time, the FDA said the investigations do not prove that the drinks are harmful.

"I used to like them a lot and drink them on a regular basis, not so much anymore," said Michael Redmon.

Redmon used to drink energy drinks to stay awake.

"When I first started drinking energy drinks they had a good effect they did what they said, I stayed awake, I had energy for a prolonged period of time, even after working a full 8-hour work day and being tired I could take an energy drink and be good for another 5 or so hours," said Redmon.

Now, he chooses other forms of an energy boost.

"I try to drink water and sometimes go for a cappuccino," said Redmon.

Other people like David Peyton still occasionally enjoy the drink.

"You get like the combination of Coke which everybody loves cause its sugary deliciousness and coffee for the energy pick up and everything you put it together and you get sugary beverages," said Peyton.

Whether it's occasionally, or often, the FDA wants consumers to be aware.

Dietitian Raina Childers said adults should consume less than 300 milligrams of caffeine a day, which is about 3 cups of coffee.

For some energy drinks, that amount is in just one can.

"Far too many people treat them exactly the same as Coke or Pepsi because anybody will just sit there and drink a 24-ounce coke and think nothing of it, or drink 2 or 3 of them in a day and think nothing of it and they don't realize an energy drink is not soda," said Peyton.

"Always look big picture and try to figure out what is the contributing factor for why a person might feel like they need to supplement themselves with additional energy," said Childers.

Childers said it might be a lack of sleep, poor nutrition, or vitamin deficiencies.

"I think it's important to look at what things in their lifestyle to the reason they need energy, are they sleeping poorly, are they generally dehydrated sometimes people can wander around and be mildly dehydrated their concentration is poor their fatigue levels are high and if they just drank fluid in general, whatever it might be of their choice, it certainly might change how they feel and adequate rest makes a huge difference," said Childers.

Redmon think the drinks are popular because of advertising.

"Every rock show you go to there's advertisements for energy drinks," said Redmon.

"Parents need to talk to their kids about these things and show them some of the things that can happen because it's very popular it's very much a peer influenced decision," said Childers.

"I don't think a parent would let a kid have 24-ounces of coffee then they'll turn around and let them have 24 ounce energy drink, it doesn't click to people that there is actually a difference," said Peyton.

Childers said energy drinks contain additional ingredients like Taurine that prolong the caffeine's effect. She said caffeine can last in your system 5 to 7 hours.

"I think people aren't aware that they have their one cup of coffee they burn through it there's nothing left so they can keep consuming, so I think children or young adults who are really fascinated with these beverages right now absolutely don't realize how long it lingers and how serious those effects can be," said Childers.

She said you're also getting caffeine from iced teas, sodas, and chocolate. More than your allotted amount, and you might become jittery, anxious and nervous.

Caffeine is addictive, so Childers said if someone goes without it, they can have withdraw effects like headaches, fatigue, and grouchiness.

She said caffeine can have some good effects too, like being alert at work, and improving blood sugar levels.

The FDA regulates how much caffeine can be in cola, but not in energy drinks.

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.

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