Are Caffeine Energy Drinks Dangerous to Your Health?

Caffeinated energy drinks that promise super alertness and sometimes imply better sports performance should carry labels that specify their amount of caffeine, says a Johns Hopkins University scientist.

Drinks with the highest caffeine content should also warn of potential health dangers, says Roland Griffiths, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, and senior author of a new report on the beverages.

“Many of these drinks do not label the caffeine content,” he says, and some energy drinks contain as much caffeine as found in 14 cans of soda.

The industry begs to differ, with spokespeople pointing out that most “mainstream” energy drinks contain the same amount of caffeine, or even less, than you’d get in a cup of brewed coffee. If labels listing caffeine content are required on energy drinks, they should also be required on coffeehouse coffee, says Maureen Storey, PhD, a spokeswoman for the American Beverage Association. It’s not like the Modafinil stuff you can get from a prescription.

Energy Drinks: The Back Story

Since Red Bull, the first energy drink to hit the U.S. market, launched in 1997, the market has boomed, Griffiths says, now totaling at least $5.4 billion a year in the U.S. Hundreds of brands are available.

Although the FDA limits the caffeine contents of cola-type soft drinks to 71 milligrams per 12 fluid ounces, no such limit is required on energy drinks, Griffiths tells WebMD.

“Makers of so-called “energy” drinks generally market them as dietary supplements,” says Siobhan DeLancey, an FDA spokesperson. Dietary supplements are regulated differently than food. The FDA does not approve or review the products before they are marketed.

Energy Drinks: Caffeine Content

Griffiths and his colleagues contacted more than two dozen makers of energy drinks, asking for caffeine content. Here are some of the findings:

(The caffeine content is in milligrams per serving. Although serving sizes vary, Griffiths contends that most people will drink the entire can, whatever the number of ounces.)

  • Red Bull: 80 milligrams per 8.3-ounce serving
  • Tab Energy: 95 mg per 10.5-oz serving
  • Monster and Rockstar: 160 mg per 16-oz serving
  • No Fear: 174 mg per 16-oz serving
  • * Fixx: 500 per 20-oz serving
  • * Wired X505: 505 mg per 24-oz serving

In comparison, according to Griffiths:

  • Brewed coffee: 100 milligrams per 12-oz serving
  • Instant coffee: 140 mg per 12-oz serving
  • Brewed tea: 80 mg per 12-oz serving
  • Mountain Dew: 54 mg per 12 oz. serving
  • Dr. Pepper: 41 mg per 12-oz serving
  • Pepsi Cola: 38 mg per 12-oz serving
  • Coca-Cola Classic: 34.5 mg per 12-oz serving
  • Canned or bottled tea: 20 mg per 12-oz serving

Some of the energy drinks have lower caffeine contents, Griffith says. Among the lower doses:

  • Bomba Energy has 75 mg per 8.4-oz serving
  • Whoop Ass has 50 mg per 8.5-oz serving

22 thoughts on “Are Caffeine Energy Drinks Dangerous to Your Health?

  1. shane ehman

    I found this ok as information about what the fda looks at with caffinated types of drinks. But what you didn’t cover is any imposing health concerns from the caffine in these drinks.

    Reply
  2. Tim

    For many people, energy drinks are misnamed in that while they do create some immediate energy, they leave your body worse off than in the beginning. It’s really hard to find one that will do the job but is actually healthy for you and has the research to prove it. I discovered one such exception.

    I doubt most will buy it, because it’s not found in stores and doesn’t come in a bottle- but I’m not concerned with what most people do.

    At 52, I find this stuff amazing and now that I have, I kind of feel sorry for the masses that won’t go past their store isle to find something really exceptional.

    This was just released in Sept 1st of this year.

    Reply
    1. Tom

      I don´t understand why Tim takes the time to post a comment and keep the product he found secret.

      Anyone knows what´s hes talking about?

      Reply
  3. hi

    HIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII AJAJAJJAJAJJAAJJAAJ I AM A STUDENT THAT WANTS A CASE OF SOMEONE THAT HAS DIED BECAUSE OF ENERGY DRINKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  4. nadine

    yes they are dangerous to your health! I am 14 years old and drank two cans and one consentrated one because i was completely out of energy and it didnt make me anymore enrgized, infact it made me even more tired untill i suddenly fainted and went into a seizure. i was taken off to the hospital and put on a drip for 6 hours. i was let out later that day. they said it was related to the red bull.. my body was in a constant spasm for a few days later uuntil i had a fight with someone and went into a nother seizure and again was rushed off to hospital and had to stay there for the week. while in hospital i had to go around on a wheel chair and learn how to walk again. now im in constant fear of drinking something like that again which will trigure it off. i think its stpid that anyone can buy them, no matter what age you are. seeing as its already banned in some countries, already shows us that it cant be good. i think it should be banned everywhere!

    Reply
    1. jenna

      i was reading your story and was shocked…… i started drinking relentless drinks 3 yrs ago i needed to keep going as my twins were born early and very sick in hospital….. one started to turn into 2 then 3 ect now i am on 15 a day if not more somedays i spend 20 pound a day i am trying to come off them as my family r very worried about me my heart rate is sky high but am finding it hard its shocking what 2 cans can do dread to think what 15 or more will do…….. everytime i need just that one sip i will think of your story on what happened to u all the best:-)

      Reply
    2. Ashley

      I’m sorry, but you’re not very smart. Energy drinks even say they shouldn’t be drank by people who are sensitive to caffine, but I doubted you took the time to think that out. Caffine is a drug and you overloaded your system with it. Being in college, I’ve taken two all-nighters in a row and used just one Red Bull each day and I was fine for the entire day. My guess is that you’ve never drank much caffine at once before. You were asking for trouble. Yes, it is really bad to get addicted and drink them all the time, but they aren’t dangerous if you know your limits. Engergy drinks are just as dangerous as any other drink that has caffine. You just can’t have as much. Kind of like how most people need a lot of beer to get drunk but only a couple shots of vodka for the same result; that is because the content is bigger. Use common sense and you should be fine.

      Reply
  5. pat

    It is recomend that you drink no more then 2 within 24 hours. If you drink more then that you should be in a mental hospital. Besides if your under the age of 18 you are not able to buy them (I have been carded for one), but their more lenient on the sale of them.

    Reply
    1. Bob

      You’re kidding, right? I remember buying 5 monsters at the age of 12…. Not addicted to caffeine or anything, I just like drinking the stuff on Monday mornings and weekends.

      Reply
  6. name

    Thanks for the info! I’m trying really hard to convince my friends to stop drinking them, and now I’m doing a persuasive on them in class.

    Reply
  7. John

    I am a regular caffine user and have found that energy drinks that contain panax ginseng are aggravating to my blood pressure. I cannot stand panax ginseng mixed with taurine and caffine because of the level of dialation that it causes. The best Energy Drinks/Supplements I have tried that are listed as a dietry supplement are Rockstar Zero Carb. Red Bull, and 5 Hour Energy Shots. Mixing these with coffee is always bad and many people I have noticed in the work environment do so. Awhile back a Monster Energy Zero Carb seemed great so I drank one and cut it with almonds which made me feel that horrible inner gravity. Using any of them without panax ginseng or over 3 grams of sugar has given me positive results as long as I drank them and followed water about 2 hours later and chilled down. They are all in how you use them. John.

    Reply
  8. Nam

    I’m 13 and I just drank 2 rockstar energy drinks and my heart was eregurle beating and still is I’m scars and just letting people know they are dangerous and gave me only a little energy

    Reply
  9. Monsterfan

    Oh cmon monster is so good and they even dont give you energy and if you dont like energy drinks then dont drink it someone like will drink those damn drinks

    Reply

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