January 14, 2011

ADHD or Too Many Energy Drinks?

The first energy drink to ever hit the market came in 1962 and was developed by a Japanese pharmaceutical company. By 1987, Europe was a buzz (literally) over Red Bull. About this time, the Americans introduced their first version, Jolt Cola (I completely remember this) "all the sugar and twice the caffeine" of Coke! Since then, Red Bull has taken the lead and raked in over $2 billion a year.  Like it or not, energy drinks are here in a big way.

Are they safe? The question still remains as researchers have yet to conclusively suggest that energy drinks are unsafe or pose any health risk. However, many medical professionals remain very cautious.  The ingredients in the average energy drink include high doses of caffeine and sugar along with natural ingredients such as taurine, guarana, and ginkgo biloba. The caution surrounds the fact that researchers are still unaware of the long term (and short term for that matter) effects of these natural ingredients when mixed together (not to mention in large doses). There appears to be an assumed trust in a "natural" product when really...you wouldn't eat a mushroom just because it grew out of the ground...would you? Natural doesn't mean healthy.


I couldn't help it...this is brilliant!
 One thing for sure is all heath practitioners will agree that energy drinks are not for children. Health Canada's recommendation for maximum intake of caffeine per day for kids suggest that for children 4-6 years no more than 45 mg, for 7-9 years a maximum of 62.5 mg and for those kids ages 10-12, no more than 85 mg per day is suggested (excuse the errors in punctuation). Due to lack of data, there are no suggestions for adolescents; however, research suggests no more than 2.5 mg/kg of body weight per day. To put this into perspective, the average can of Coke contains 36-46 mg of caffeine and energy drinks can range from 80 - 350+mg / can. If a child is eating chocolate and downing a couple of cans of cola per day, you reach the limit pretty fast.

Why should one be mindful of their caffeine intake? The effects of caffeine may include; muscle tremors, nausea, and irritability, changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and cholesterol.  Consuming large amounts of caffeine over time may decrease bone density and lead to fractures down the road. Both children and adults may experience high levels of anxiety, mood changes, and decreased attentiveness..oh ya...and the potential risk for cancer and links to sudden death in sport.

How can you energize without reaching for the chemicals? It may sound cheesy and trite, but it all relates to lifestyle behaviour (of course..or why would I blog about it?). A healthy night's sleep is defined, by sleep experts, as a minimum of 7 hours of quality sleep per night (um...yup...7!). Eating a healthy diet (without relying on the staples of processed foods) will also provide you with the energy you need to get through your day without ending up a pool of lethargy in the corner (rocking back and forth in the fetal position..not that I would know anything about that). But if you need something more immediate, try a simple walk outdoors. So instead of reaching for a bottle of stuff that isn't really known to be healthy for you...why not turn to the stuff that is tried and true and good for you?

That's all I got (except keep your kids away from the energy drinks...a.k.a. crack in a can!).
K

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