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Risks associated with drinks containing caffeine are an unknown quantity


“Energy shots” are a new kind of caffeinated drink introduced onto the market only recently. They contain a much higher level of stimulants such as caffeine and sometimes also taurine per litre than standard energy drinks, and as such should only be consumed with the utmost caution, warns the “Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung” (the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment or BfR).

 

Energy drinks are caffeinated soft drinks which usually also contain ingredients like taurine, inositol and glucuronolactone. Energy shots are available in smaller volumes (25 to 75 ml) and marketed as a dietary supplement.

But the actual composition of the drinks varies widely: a serving could contain anywhere between 50 and 200 mg of caffeine and 200 to 1000 mg of taurine. The manufacturers advertise these products with the claim that they will improve concentration, performance and physical fitness, but this is yet to be scientifically proven. Due to their particular composition, energy shots come with a warning that you should not consume more than one per day. But the BfR is of the opinion that there is a high probability at least some consumers will exceed the recommended daily amount by some margin, thus putting their health at risk.

Generally speaking, the BfR recommends that people with high blood pressure or heart conditions should restrict their consumption of energy drinks and shots as a precaution. Such drinks are not suitable for children, pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers or people who are sensitive to caffeine.

Young people in particular could consume large quantities of energy shots in place of regular energy drinks in clubs, maybe in order to deliberately counteract feelings of tiredness or to create a feeling of excitement. Physical exertion increases the sensation of thirst and, consequently, the probability of consuming an excessive number of energy shots.

This would lead to the ingredients caffeine and taurine being ingested in considerably higher volumes or at shorter intervals than with standard energy drinks. Furthermore, scientific data is not yet available as to whether the action of mixing caffeine with other ingredients such as taurine increases the unwanted side-effects associated with caffeine on its own. The consumption of large quantities of energy drinks, combined with alcohol and physical exertion from playing sport or a long night spent dancing in a club, has even been linked to fatalities. However, there is not currently any evidence of a causal relationship between the two.


Source: www.aid.de, Heike Kreutz