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Energy Drinks may need Strict Controls

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Like other stimulants to the central nervous system, energy drinks give you a high. And like addicting drugs, this buzz is temporary; the high is of course followed by a low which often leads to consuming too much, trying to get back to the "high". Another problem arises when these energy drinks are mixed with alcohol.

Health Canada has reported four incidents of adverse reactions from energy drinks which include electrolyte disturbances, nausea and vomiting and heart irregularities.

Energy Drinks should not be confused with sports drinks such as Gatorade. Sports drinks hydrate or replenish and maintain fluids in the body and provide sugars, which the body burns to create energy and replenish electrolytes. Electrolytes maintain salt and potassium balances in the body.

Energy drinks, on the other hand, can lead to dehydration. People drink them to keep up their energy during periods of intense physical activity or drink them after exercise to quench their thirst. They are wildly popular at all-night dance parties and "raves", bars and nightclubs. A favorite cocktail in many up-scale bars combines vodka and Red Bull Energy Drink, which could prove to be a deadly combination.

Energy drinks are not regulated by the FDA. The ingredients they contain are definitely dubious and possibly dangerous.

Ingredients

Caffeine
Caffeine is the main ingredient in these beverages that is responsible for the "energy buzz." Caffeine is a diuretic, thus causing more urine output that leads to dehydration. It also has a laxative effect which leads to further dehydration. And caffeine is also addictive, which can result in wanting more to achieve the same "caffeine high."

Herbs
Energy drinks can contain a variety of herbs, often thought of as "natural caffeine replacements." At best, some of these herbs have no physical effects. At worst, they may interact with other chemicals in the body such as prescription drugs or alcohol, with potentially dangerous results. Some people may have allergies to these herbs and be unaware of the risks they are taking by consuming energy drinks. Allergic reactions can range from a mild rash to death.

Ephedra
Ephedra is another common ingredient found in energy drinks, which is also claimed as a dietary supplement and "fat burner." (The FDA recently told manufacturers of dietary supplements containing Ephedra that it will publish a rule stating that "dietary supplements containing ephedrine alkaloids present an unreasonable risk of illness or injury.)

Other

Pyruvate is another addition to energy drinks and is touted as a performance booster and muscle builder and is also used to lose weight. Studies have shown that large amounts can cause illness.

There are many brands of energy drinks sold in numerous convenience stores, gas stations and bars. Some other brand names besides Red Bull include:

Red Devil, Monster Energy, Full Throttle Fury, Diablo Energy Drink, Hype Energy Drink.

Health Canada is keeping a close watch on energy drinks and "will take appropriate measures to ensure the health and safety of Canadians. This may include regulating other "energy drinks" under the Natural Health Products regulations. " It advises you to keep consumption to a minimum and drink plenty of water to re-hydrate your system.

Meanwhile the FDA has not yet classified the above ingredients as drugs and therefore has no control over the manufacture of energy drinks or the safety of those who consume them.

READ MORE ABOUT Diet/Health Supplements

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