- The 5-Hour Energy Effect: When Vitamins Hurt
- Risks of Vitamin Overload
- Should You Take Supplements?
- 5- Hour Energy, Long Term Problem?
- Myths about 5-hour ENERGY® Shots
- Energy Drink Side Effects
- 5-hour ENERGY® Shot Ingredients
- Energy Blend
- What You Really Need To Know About The Safety Of 5-Hour Energy Drink
- Do 5-Hour Energy Shots Actually Work?
- What’s In a 5-Hour Energy?
- What Do The Ingredients in 5-Hour Energy Do?
- Are 5-Hour Energy Shots Safe?
- Niacin, an ingredient in energy drinks, could give you hepatitis, new study finds
- 5-hour Energy
- What is in 5 Hour Energy ?
- Do 5-hour ENERGY® shots have any potential side effects?
- Marquette Wire
- 5-Hour Energy: How Safe Is It Really?
The 5-Hour Energy Effect: When Vitamins Hurt
FRIDAY, Nov. 16, 2012 — Earlier this week, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration received a report detailing 13 deaths possibly linked to 5-Hour Energy, a popular energy shot containing caffeine and 8,333 percent the recommended daily value of vitamin B12, among other ingredients.
Although it’s not known whether 5-Hour Energy contributed to death or serious injury in any patients, experts suggest the report highlights the need for safe caffeine and supplement practices. And it was released less than a month after the FDA announced an investigation of whether consumption of Monster energy drinks contributed to five deaths reported to the agency since 2004.
“The issue with an energy drink is that it’s a source of caffeine, and depending on the type, it can be a pretty potent source,” says Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD, a nutrition professor at Boston University, media spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and author of Nutrition & You. “For people that may be on medication for high-blood pressure, caffeine can be dangerous. Caffeine can also lead to irregular heartbeats, so people with known heart problems don’t want excessive amounts.”
If people are turning to energy drinks or shots because they feel tired all the time, Blake suggests identifying why you’re tired, instead of masking exhaustion with stimulants. “There isn’t a need for caffeine,” she says. “You get your energy from food, from the calories in a healthy diet. You need vitamins, minerals, and water to use calories for energy, but all those nutrients are in the foods you should be eating.”
Excessive caffeine might be the biggest threat energy drinks pose. But taking in too much of the vitamins in the drinks can pose problems, too.
Risks of Vitamin Overload
In addition to caffeine, 5-Hour Energy contains B12 and two other B vitamins — folic acid and niacin — that can have negative side effects when consumed in excessive amounts.
Niacin causes flushing of the face and skin, nausea, vomiting, and possibly liver toxicity, Blake says. “There is an upper level set on folic acid of 1,000 micrograms,” Blake explains. “If you get too much, it can mask a vitamin B12 deficiency. If you go a long time with a B12 deficiency, it can cause permanent neurological problems.”
There’s no clear-cut upper limit to the amount of vitamin B12 that can be consumed safely, according to National Institutes of Health data and Blake. But it’s not necessary for most people to supplement their B12 intake unless they abstain from animal products where B12 is naturally found.
“You need to be healthy,” Blake says, “the problem is when you get excess amounts of them from foods, fortified foods, and supplements. But it’s rare to over-consume any vitamin or essential nutrient on a well-balanced diet.”
There are some people who benefit from supplements, particularly as they age, Blake notes, but before you start a supplementation plan on your own, sit down with an RD or doctor to make sure it’s something you need.
Should You Take Supplements?
Use of dietary supplements increased 53 percent between 2003 and 2006 alone, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it looks like the supplement-taking trend isn’t slowing. But it’s not safe to assume that you need a multivitamin as part of your daily diet or that you need nutrient-specific additions, which is why it’s so important to talk to a health professional before taking anything.
Recent research has largely concluded that supplements, including omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, vitamin D, and even regular multivitamins, do not prevent chronic disease, but these nutrients in food forms do. The best course of action then, most experts agree, is to get these essential nutrients through a well-rounded diet.
TELL US: Do you use vitamins or supplements? (Note: Mobile users won’t be able to comment.)
5- Hour Energy, Long Term Problem?
In its Adverse Event Reports, the FDA identifies a number of health-related adverse events in connection with 5 Hour Energy drinks.
Living Essentials, the manufacturer of 5-hour energy says it contains “about as much caffeine as a cup of the leading premium coffee.” However, a recent test by Consumer Reports found that 5-Hour Energy contains 215 milligrams of caffeine per serving. In comparison, an average 8-ounce cup of coffee has about 100 milligrams of caffeine, although that varies according to how the coffee is brewed. Consumer Reports also finds that 8 ounces of Starbucks coffee is on the high side with 165 milligrams of caffeine.
So, it appears that 5-hour energy has up to double the amount of caffeine as a standard cup of coffee.
According to Consumer Reports, safe limits of caffeine are up to 400 milligrams per day for healthy adults, 200 milligrams a day for pregnant women, and up to 45 or 85 milligrams per day for children, depending on weight.
As a physician, none of this surprises me.
Potentially misleading advertising, of something that looks to good to be true, is again causing medical problems.
The challenge here is that 5-hour Energy, and products like them (Monster has been linked to deaths by the FDA as well), work. They “lend you” energy. Notice I said, “lend” not give. Caffeine to the body is sort of a borrowed energy as it is not naturally produced, but rather is artificially stimulated. I do think that occasional black tea, green tea, and organic coffee is safe for many people, but a high dose of concentrated caffeine, in my opinion, simply is not.
A couple of things to help your own energy production are as follows:
- Do not trade caffeine for sleep (a good idea for doctors as well.)
- Start trading your simple carbohydrate foods, such as grains and sugar, for more protein based foods and complex carbs such as fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise whenever possible.
- Consider supporting the adrenal gland.
- Have your thyroid checked with a holistic practitioner such as a Naturopathic Doctor.
Myths about 5-hour ENERGY® Shots
MYTH: 5-hour ENERGY® shots are not FDA approved and, therefore, unsafe.
FACT: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. It is responsible for regulating food, dietary supplements, drugs and more. While Food Products (such as bread, milk and cereal) and Dietary Supplements (such as 5-hour ENERGY® shots or your daily multivitamin) do not require FDA “approval” both are regulated and monitored by the FDA. 5-hour ENERGY® shots are regulated by the FDA per the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA) of 1994. DSHEA states that dietary supplements cannot contain anything that may have a “significant or unreasonable risk of illness or injury” when the supplement is used as directed on the label, or with normal use if there are no directions on the label. In addition, the 2007 FDA rules require that dietary supplements manufacturers follow standards called Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) with which the manufacturer of 5-hour ENERGY® complies fully. This means 5-hour ENERGY® shots must:
- Be produced in a quality manner
- Not contain any contaminants or impurities
- Be labeled with the actual ingredients in the product
So, although it may be true that the FDA does not “approve” 5-hour ENERGY® shots (just as it does not “approve” the food you buy or eat), you can rest assured that the FDA strictly regulates 5-hour ENERGY® shots. Learn More
MYTH: 5-hour ENERGY® shots are unsafe because all of its ingredients are not disclosed.
FACT: The ingredients contained in a 5-hour ENERGY® shot are disclosed on the product’s label, in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
Energy Drink Side Effects
Energy drinks can have potential side effects if not consumed responsibly or as directed. For some people, especially children, there is no safe amount of an energy drink.
This is because of the vast array of ingredients placed in energy drinks, which may make them more likely to produce negative and even deadly side effects as opposed to beverages containing just caffeine alone.
The safety of energy drinks has become a major issue as consumption has increased among children and teens.1 Some jurisdictions have even prohibited the sale of energy drinks to minors or those under 16 years of age.
Top 10 Energy Drink Side Effects
Recent research in Australia2 has highlighted the risks with the over-consumption of energy drinks. This data was gathered from 7 years of calls to the Australian Poisons Center.
Side effects listed in order of most common to least common:
- Palpitations / tachycardia
- Tremor / shaking
- Agitation / restlessness
- Gastrointestinal upset
- Chest pain/ischemia
- Paresthesia (tingling or numbing of the skin)
- Respiratory distress
The Center for Food Safety Adverse Event Reporting System (CAERS) received over 140 complaints about adverse side effects from 5 Hour Energy, Monster, and Rockstar over the last 10 years. Some of these resulted in hospitalization and death. See the report here.
Energy drinks contain stimulants, supplements, herbs, and vitamins and are required to list warnings on the label about consuming more than the recommended serving.
Potential Energy Drink Side Effects from the Specific Ingredients
In moderation most adults will have no adverse, short-term side effects from drinking an energy drink, however, the long-term side effects of consuming energy drinks aren’t yet fully understood.
If you want to reduce your caffeine intake (or quit entirely), here’s how:
1.Download our book Awake(it’s free).
2. Do the Overcoming Caffeine Withdrawal course at Udemy.
3. Use the Wean Caffeine supplement (something we helped get to market). It helps you avoid the painful withdrawal symptoms that often come when quitting caffeine abruptly.
Here are the most common energy drink ingredients and the potential side effects that could result from ingesting too much.
This is the most common energy drink ingredient and one of the most widely consumed substances in the world.
Caffeine tolerance varies between individuals, but for most people, a dose of over 400mg/day may produce some initial symptoms: restlessness, increased heartbeat, and insomnia.
Higher dosages can lead to:
- Increased blood pressure
- Heart palpitations
- Anxiety and panic attacks
- Gastrointestinal disturbance (diarrhea)
- Increased urination
- Dizziness, irritability, nausea, nervousness, jitters
- Allergic reactions can include; rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the (mouth, face, lips, or tongue), diarrhea, shakiness, trouble sleeping, vomiting
- Headaches and severe fatigue from withdrawal
- Painful withdrawal symptoms
(Read more about caffeine overdose here)
Caffeine can be found in other natural ingredients such as guarana, green tea extract, and coffee extract or can go by many other names, so be aware of this when reading energy drink labels.
Please consult the caffeine database for an exhaustive list of caffeine in energy drinks (and other drinks). This is updated weekly.
Workout-type energy drinks have become increasingly popular and most of these like Bang Energy Drink have 300 mg of caffeine in just one can. People should be especially cautious when consuming these types of energy drinks.
There is debate as to whether adrenal fatigue is a real disorder, but here’s what some people think happens.
Some people can become tired even after the consumption of caffeine. This is believed to be a symptom of adrenal fatigue where the body’s adrenaline system has become overtaxed by a person’s constant high caffeine intake.
The solution is not to increase caffeine even more – but to reduce, detox, and get the adrenal glands back to a healthy state.
Remember, it’s hard to pinpoint an exact safe dose because it varies from person to person and according to a person’s tolerance and sensitivity.
See our Caffeine Safe Dose Guide here.
Between 500 milligrams to 1000 milligrams in a 24 hour period will probably lead to some of the more severe side effects.
Use our caffeine calculator to find out how much caffeine in different energy drinks would be deadly.
Most energy drinks are high in sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup and/or cane sugar. Some use creative names to make their version of sugar seem “healthier”, like “natural cane juice”.
- High sugar drinks are linked to the obesity epidemic.
- Sugar causes tooth decay
- Increases risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- The sugar in energy drinks causes blood sugar and insulin spikes, which later result in a “crash-like” feeling.
- Sugar is also somewhat addictive.
No side effects from the amount of Taurine3 in energy drinks have been documented. Some countries (France, Denmark, and Norway) originally banned energy drinks because of their taurine content, but have since accepted that taurine consumption is safe based on the evidence to date.
The amount placed in energy drinks is well below what would be needed for therapeutic benefits or for any potential side-effects.
However, in light of deaths from energy drinks, some researchers are looking at the possibility of taurine combined with caffeine as the potential cause.
- More than 35mg of Niacin (B3) can cause flushing of the skin. Intake of 3000mg or more can result in liver toxicity. The British Journal of Medicine recently published a case study of a man who consumed about 5 energy drinks a day for a period of three weeks. This caused toxic levels of niacin to build up in his body, leading to nonviral hepatitis. The unidentified energy drink in question supplied 200% of the RDA of B3. A summary is found here.
- More than 100mg of B6 can cause sensory nerve problems (burning sensations) or skin lesions.
No major side effects have been reported, but it could cause dizziness, tiredness, headaches and an upset stomach. (src.) Ingesting large quantities has been linked to diarrhea. Large doses have been used to treat certain psychiatric disorders.
- Some studies have linked it to sleeplessness, while others refute this.
- Other possible symptoms include; low blood pressure, edema, palpitations, tachycardia, cerebral arteritis, vertigo, headache, insomnia, mania, vaginal bleeding, amenorrhea, fever, appetite suppression, pruritus, cholestatic hepatitis, mastalgia, euphoria, and miscarriage.
While no side effects have been reported, there’s still debate on its safety.4 Many countries including Canada, England, Germany, and France have concluded that it is not a safety concern.
If you drink sugar-free energy drinks you may be consuming any number of artificial sweeteners. There is always debate around the negative health effects of these (particularly aspartame5).
However, all major health institutions regard them as safe.
Gingko is a herb, and can cause some minor side effects in some people6:
- Nausea, diarrhea, headaches, dizziness, heart palpitations, and restlessness.
- Can interact with other medication such as blood thinners and anti-depressants.
- A recent study found that ginkgo caused thyroid cancer in rats.
Too much of this amino acid can cause vomiting, nausea, headache, diarrhea, stuffy nose, restlessness and sleeping difficulty.7
This amino acid is derived from green tea and many energy drinks and shots have begun putting “green tea extract” in their products.
It produces a different type of alertness than caffeine and there hasn’t been any scientific evidence of it causing adverse side effects. Some have reported feeling light-headed when consuming a dose of more than 300mg of L-Theanine.8
Many fitness-oriented energy drinks are including branched-chain amino acids which are believed to help with muscle recovery after exercise. Most people don’t react negatively to a moderate dose of BCAAs, but some have reported headaches, nausea, and pain. They also could problems with people having surgery or taking other medications.
What is Safe For You?
Energy drinks probably shouldn’t be a staple of anyone’s diet and coffee is certainly a healthier source of caffeine.
However, despite a number of alarming reports of overdose in recent years, for most people, energy drink consumption seems safe in moderation.
Many of the reported side effects are anecdotal – being reported from the patient’s records. So, it’s hard to say which ingredient actually caused the problems if the patient was ingesting several combinations of these at one time.
Be Careful of Pre-existing Conditions
If you or your child has a pre-existing heart condition of any sort – they should not be consuming energy drinks.
In general, it is better to avoid the larger drinks (i.e. Mega Monster has a massive 240mg caffeine in its 24 fl oz giant can) and stick to smaller 8 fl oz cans. Also, workout focused energy drinks like Bang and Redline have much higher doses of caffeine and are not recommended unless you fully understand your sensitivity and tolerance to caffeine.
Drinking energy drink products responsibly or only using energy drinks occasionally will likely help you avoid any of the potential energy drink side effects.
Written by Ted Kallmyer, last updated on November 13, 2019
College students are closely related to energy drinks. Every night we see students with serious faces, laptops, and 5 hour energies. It seems quite useful. What happens after drinking 5 hour energy? Are there side effects?
First, in general, we know energy drinks contain plenty of caffeine, sugar, and other chemicals. And we are scared by sensational news like Caffeinated Drink Cited in Reports of 13 Deaths. And we continue to drink and get good grades. What is really going on??????
This study conducted by Marczinski Cecile raises meaningful points. “Participants (n=14) completed a three-session study where they received the energy shot, a placebo control, and no drink. Following dose administration, participants completed subjective Profile of Mood States ratings hourly for 6 hours. Participants also repeatedly completed a behavioral control task (the cued go/no-go task) and provided blood pressure and pulse rate readings at each hour. The results turns out that consumption of the energy shot did improve subjective state, as measured by increased ratings of vigor and decreased ratings of fatigue. However, the energy shot did not alter objective performance, which worsened over time. Importantly, the energy shot elevated both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.”
The study is designed perfectly. The double blinded trial with placebo control shows the most direct effects of the energy drink. However, the sample size of 14 is too small to rule out the possibility of happening by chance. So I find another study conducted by David Apotov to further confirm the results.
David predicts that the energy drinks will have effects on blood pressure, heart rate, heart rhythm irregularity, and brain activity. Involved more than 100 participants, David also conducted double blinded trial with placebo control, and he got the following results.
The charts are quite clear. With no doubts,
the regular 5- Hour Energy drink showed a trend towards a significant increase in systolic blood pressure and a trend towards a significant increase in heart rhythm irregularity energy drinks do something to hour body which may be potential risks of our health. The companies always claims that a regular amount will not hurt. However, who can define regular for everyone. And with true stories like this one: Anais Fournier, 14-Year-Old Girl, Dies After Drinking 2 Energy Drink. We have to reconsider should we continue to drink energy drinks.
Using the risk measurement method in Andrew’s class, we may get the answer that it is less possible to die from energy drinks than marry Kim Kardashian. However, health problems can be progressive. It is different from car crash. It is true that only 1 in a million people die from energy drinks, but if we count the number of people who have bad body reaction after drinking five our energy, will that be 9 in 10? At least people will get dizzy after more than 20 hours awake.
As for my personal opinion. I do not recommend energy drinks. First, there must be some side effects, and I think everyone knows that. But humans always assume themselves are the lucky ones, so they overlook those implicit potential risk to their health. And second, no matter what is inside the little bottle, it didn’t give you real energy. 5 year energy only stimulates you to stay up and consume your own energy. Where the extra energy comes from? Can we avoid making up for overconsumption of our own energy? Most of us can easily get the answers. But ignores them and keep hurting our own bodies. Stop that, try to be responsible to your health!!
Nov. 15, 2012 — The federal government and the New York Attorney General’s office are investigating after the Food and Drug Administration received claims that the drink 5-Hour Energy may have led to 13 deaths and 33 hospitalizations over the past four years.
The popular energy shot – which comes in 2 oz. packages and packs a powerful caffeine punch, equal to two cups of coffee — led the way in this new and growing energy drink segment over the past eight years. Now government officials are investigating whether the product, made by Michigan-based Living Essentials, does much more.
“If someone is to use multiple cans, now is when we start to see some of the side effects,” Dr. Sean Patrick Nord, USC Director of the Section of Toxicology, told ABC News. “You’re getting astronomical amounts, 30 to 40 cups of coffee.”
The recent FDA filings mark the second time in a month the administration has confirmed it is investigating claims that energy drinks are causing fatal reactions. In October, Monster energy, another popular drink that contains even more caffeine, was allegedly linked to five deaths.
The manufacturers point out that these are just claims, and there is no proven link between the drinks and the deaths.
In a statement overnight, 5-hour Energy said the product is “intended for busy adults.” The company says its compact product contains “about as much caffeine as a cup of the leading premium coffee.”
During an interview this September, Manoj Bhargava, the founder and CEO of 5-Hour Energy, told ABC News “Nightline” that when used as directed, the caffeine in his product doesn’t do any harm.
“It’s overblown. When it’s in small quantities … It’s like this — water is good, but if you have too much you drown,” he said.
Most experts say the fatal dose of caffeine for an adult would be almost impossible to drink – actually 50 to 60 times of what is contained in an energy drink. But critics worry about children with underlying heart problems drinking them, and are warning that energy drinks may be more hazardous than coffee because of the temperature.
5-hour ENERGY® Shot Ingredients
Citicoline is a water-soluble compound essential for the synthesis of phosphatidyl choline, a constituent of brain tissue. Citicoline plays a role in neurotransmission and can help support brain function.*
This 5-hour ENERGY® ingredient is an amino acid that transmits nerve impulses to the brain. Tyrosine is found in meat, dairy, fish and grains.
Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that enhances alertness.* It’s found in dairy products, avocados, legumes, nuts, leafy vegetables, whole grains, poultry and fish.
This ingredient is a naturally occurring chemical substance present in meat, fish and dairy products. Taurine can be found in the white blood cells, skeletal muscles, heart and central nervous system of human adults. Taurine plays a role in digestion, and is used to process potassium, calcium and sodium in the body, as well as maintain the integrity of cell membranes.*
Found naturally in fruits (especially apples), Malic Acid is synthesized by the body during the process of converting carbohydrates to energy.
A natural metabolite found in the human body, Glucuronolactone is produced by the metabolization of glucose in the liver. It has been shown to reduce sleepiness*.
What You Really Need To Know About The Safety Of 5-Hour Energy Drink
Are those tiny 5-Hour Energy shots dangerous?
Should you worry about drinking too much Monster Energy — or any other energy drink for that matter?
These are the questions on our minds this week following another U.S. Food and Drug Administration missive on deaths and hospitalizations as reported by energy drink manufacturers. Those specifically cited in this week’s report (PDF) include Monster and Rockstar energy drinks as well as 5-hour Energy “shots” that are ubiquitous throughout US convenience stores and pharmacies.
NEW! – FDA Weaponizes ‘Opioid’ Term Against Kratom Consumers
These 5-hour Energy products are no stranger to Forbes: Staff Writer Clare O’Connor had this article and sidebar in the February 27, 2012 issue of the magazine. O’Connor reported that 5-hour Energy accounts for a whopping 90% of the national energy shot market.
So, exactly how dangerous are these drinks and energy shots?
The main number being batted around — beginning with The New York Times article by Barry Meier — is that 5-hour Energy has been cited in reports of 13 deaths; that is, 13 people who died had ingested 5-hour Energy drink at some time prior to their passing. The first death was reported on December 17, 2009.
(Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
But a close analysis of the report itself leads me to conclude that two of those deaths were reported twice, lowering the number to a still-disturbing 11.
The non-fatal reports extend back to 2005 and include typical symptoms such as dizziness, anxiety, and nausea all the way to seizures, brain hemorrhages, and heart attacks.
Monster drinks were listed in five deaths and about 35 other non-fatal adverse reactions. Rockstar was listed in 13 cases, none of which were deaths.
What’s in these drinks?
Monster and Rockstar are brightly-labeled beverages that contain 160 to 175 milligrams of caffeine in drink sizes ranging from 5 to 16 fluid ounces. That’s about three-to-five times the amount of caffeine in 12-ounce serving of a typical mass-marketed soda. The more concentrated 5-hour Energy doesn’t list its caffeine content but Consumer Reports recently determined that it contains 215 milligrams of caffeine per 2 fl. oz. bottle (the “extra strength” only contains a bit more at 242 milligrams.).
I’m a coffee drinker. Is that a lot of caffeine?
Well, it depends on where you get your coffee. One of the most comprehensive sources for caffeine content of beverages is this database at energyfiend.com. There you’ll see that a large McDonald’s coffee (16-ounce) has 145 milligrams of caffeine, just a bit less than the same as in a typical regular Rockstar or Monster product. But if you are a Starbucks fan, a 16-ounce serving (Grande) of their regular brewed coffee (not espresso-based) there can average 330 milligrams of caffeine but range from 259 to a whopping 564! These are Starbucks’ own reported values, levels that led energyfiend.com to list this product’s caffeine content as “Extreme.”
But think about this: that high end for the “Extreme” content of Starbucks is roughly the same as only two small bottles of 5-hour Energy, perhaps telling us how deceivingly potent these “shots” can be.
Is the problem only with the caffeine? What else might be dangerous in these drinks?
They also contain various combinations of vitamins and amino acids, with some vitamins far exceeding recommended daily values. Among all of these components, I’m most concerned about phenylalanine, an amino acid that cannot be adequately broken down by people with a genetic disorder called phenylketonuria. This is why you’ll see diet sodas containing the artificial sweetener aspartame listed with a warning for phenylketonurics: aspartame contains phenylalanine. In such individuals, the amino acid gets converted instead to a chemical that can cause seizures, and even mental retardation in developing infants and children. Phenylketonuria is rather common in the US, occurring in 1 out of 15,000 people but is three-to-five times more common in Turkey and Scotland.
Does this mean that 5-hour Energy caused the reported deaths and hospitalizations?
This is the question that FDA scientists are trying to assess. The major problem is that these reports don’t list other very important information such as age, weight, pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, or any indication of drugs or dietary supplements that might have contributed to these adverse reactions. For example, younger (and smaller) people are more sensitive to the effects of caffeine and might also be taking other substances that could make the energy drink deadly.
We need to remember that caffeine is a drug, capable of providing us with mental alertness but at higher doses can make us anxious, shaky, and have gastrointestinal problems such as diarrhea. In energy drinks caffeine is regulated as a food additive but its drug status is complicated by the fact that it occurs naturally in foods such as coffee and chocolate. Caffeine was previously classified by the FDA as an additive “Generally Recognized As Safe” (or GRAS) at levels commonly used since 1958.
I’ve always been wary of the so-called GRAS list. No chemical, natural or synthetic, is 100% safe. The dose determines the relative safety of anything, as does what that chemical is taken with.
In 1969, President Nixon ordered the FDA to re-review the substances on the GRAS list. The special review committee didn’t get to caffeine until 1978 but they expressed serious concerns about its health risks that include high blood pressure with doses as little as 4 milligrams per kilogram body weight. That’s roughly a 16-ounce Starbucks coffee for a 180-lb adult.
The committee specifically concluded, “It is inappropriate to include caffeine among the substances generally recognized as safe (GRAS).” Yet caffeine remains a food additive almost 35 years later.
But if these adverse reactions and deaths are shown to be directly due to the energy products, remember that caffeine might not be the culprit in all cases. Phenylalanine could causes some of the same problems in phenylketonurics, particularly seizures and convulsions.
Why does the press seem to be more fixated on 5-hour Energy than on Monster or Rockstar?
Well, the majority of cases in the current FDA report are with 5-hour Energy. But we don’t know if this relates simply to the tremendous sales numbers of the shots relative to the energy drinks. The concentrated versions of the shots also make it easier for one to take large doses of caffeine without the bulk of all that other liquid in the drinks. And not discussed in many stories is that the old-time caffeine pills we took in college in the 1980s such as No-Doz are now sold in an extra-strength version that contains 200 milligrams per pill, almost as much as a 5-hour Energy shot. (Imagine popping a No-Doz and washing it down with a Monster.)
Also, the owner of Living Essentials, Manoj Bhargava, is a bit of a mysterious figure whose products and marketing strategies have been intensively studied by the business community.
It’s entirely possible that 5-hour Energy might be more dangerous than Monster or Rockstar. A local internist told me that the larger volume of energy drinks might offset the dehydration and electrolyte losses (especially potassium) normally caused by caffeine.
Why are we hearing about deaths and hospitalizations with 5-hour Energy and Monster but not Starbucks or other high-caffeine beverages?
First, Starbucks coffee doesn’t contain phenylalanine. I suspect that some of the problems reported with the energy drinks are not due to the caffeine but are rather cases where phenylketonurics have ingested high concentrations of phenylalanine (again, information that would have been useful in the FDA report).
Second, Starbucks drinkers are likely to be more tolerant to the effects of caffeine than a 115-lb, 15-year-old kid drinking a couple of energy drinks for the first time. The Starbucks drinker is also more likely to be comfortable with the effects of caffeine. I expect to get anxious and jittery if I drink too much coffee but that freaked me out a bit when I started drinking coffee late in high school.
Another consideration relates to what else is being taken by people drinking any high-caffeine product. An increasing concern among neuroscientists is that caffeine seems to increase the lethality of drugs like ecstasy (X, MDMA), amphetamine, and methamphetamine in rats given caffeine doses in the range of human consumption (reviewed here). Since energy drinks are primarily targeted toward teens and young adults, the likelihood of caffeine and illicit drug use might be higher than in the Starbucks-drinking adult (perhaps, but not always). If you choose to use MDMA, amphetamine, or meth, STAY AWAY FROM ENERGY BEVERAGES.
So what’s the bottom line?
The true risks of energy shots and energy drinks can’t be fully evaluated if we don’t have all the information about people who’ve died or experienced other adverse effects. We don’t know if they already had heart rhythm problems, were recreational drug users, or if they were taking anything else that might predispose one to these adverse reactions. For example, the antidepressant Wellbutrin (bupropion) can cause seizures in some individuals. Consuming energy drinks while on Wellbutrin might not be a very good idea.
In addition, energy drinks are often mixed with alcoholic drinks. We have no information on the blood alcohol levels in the cases listed in this FDA report. Caffeine makes people feel less drunk but does absolutely nothing to change the actual blood alcohol level. It’s possible to get up to near-lethal blood alcohol concentrations with high-caffeine drinks. That’s why Four Loko had to take the caffeine out of their 12%(!) alcohol beverage two years ago. (And I certainly worry about the mega-high caffeine in some products such as 5150 that are designed to make any drink high in caffeine).
In fact, ask yourself why you’d want to drink some of these products. Are you trying to stay awake while working or studying late or driving long hours? Can you take some time to get some sleep instead of exposing yourself to high caffeine levels?
But if you absolutely must have caffeine, be sure you talk with your doctor or pharmacist to learn if your health status and/or medications might interact negatively with caffeine.
If you found this post informative, follow me on Twitter @DavidKroll and Facebook for updates and more.
Read more: The Mystery Monk Making Billions With 5-Hour Energy
Related on Forbes:
Do 5-Hour Energy Shots Actually Work?
Read More >>
5-Hour Energy isn’t going away anytime soon.
The company now generates roughly $1 billion in annual revenue thanks to the incredible popularity of their “energy shots.” You know the spiel: Down a 5-Hour Energy and you’ll be greeted with a refreshing, sustained boost in energy and no unpleasant side effects. The product’s tremendous success speaks to its appeal, but where exactly does the “energy boost” promised by 5-Hour Energy come from? Let’s take a closer look at the ingredients to separate fact from fiction when it comes to this popular product.
*This article focuses solely on Regular Strength 5-Hour Energy shots
What’s In a 5-Hour Energy?
5-Hour Energy shots are compact. At just 1.93 fluid ounces, they can be downed within seconds.
It’s important to know that 5-Hour Energy shots are defined as “dietary supplements.” The government defines a product as a dietary supplement largely based off what they are not—namely, if they are consumed orally and are not conventional foods, medical foods, preservatives or pharmaceutical drugs, they’re usually defined as a dietary supplement.
So we can’t think of this product the same way we do traditional food and drink—we must approach it as a supplement. Like most dietary supplements, 5-Hour Energy shots don’t offer much in terms of major nutrients. In fact, there’s no fat, carbohydrates, sugar, protein or fiber inside a 5-Hour Energy shot. That’s why each bottle contains just four calories.
But here’s what you will find in a Regular Strength 5-Hour Energy shot:
In terms of actual ingredients, here’s what you’re ingesting:
- Niacinamide (Niacin)
- Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6)
- Folic Acid
- Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B12)
- Purified Water
- Natural and Artificial Flavors
- Potassium Sorbate
- Sodium Benzoate
- Glucuronic Acid
- Malic Acid
- N-Acetyl L-Tyrosine
That’s upwards of 20 ingredients in a shot that contains fewer than 2 fluid ounces. What function do these ingredients have?
What Do The Ingredients in 5-Hour Energy Do?
Let’s start with the B vitamins. Niacin is another name for Vitamin B3, and Folic Acid is another name for Vitamin B9, so you’re looking at very high amounts of four different B vitamins in each 5-Hour Energy shot.
B vitamins help your body turn food into usable energy, so they are incredibly important. If you’re severely deficient in B vitamins, you will indeed feel tired, because your body will have trouble executing the chemical reactions needed to turn carbs, fat and protein into energy. But B vitamin deficiencies are not common, especially if you eat a varied, well-balanced diet. If you have adequate levels of B vitamins, ingesting more of them won’t further boost your energy levels. And even if you are deficient, simply taking a shot with a ton of B vitamins in it isn’t going to magically make you feel energized. Addressing a significant vitamin deficiency takes time and consistent changes in your daily diet or supplementation.
While the extreme amounts of B vitamins (particularly B6 and B12) found in 5-Hour Energy shots may be concerning at first glance, there seems to be little harm in consuming such amounts on an occasional basis (recent research shows consuming high amounts on a regular basis for an extended period of time may put smokers at a higher risk of lung cancer, however). B vitamins are water-soluble, so the vast majority of B vitamins people ingest via a 5-Hour Energy shot are going to end up in the toilet.
That brings us to the “energy blend” found in each 5-Hour Energy Shot. It consists of citicoline, tyrosine, phenylalanine, taurine, malic acid, glucuronolactone and caffeine.
According to Examine, an independent site that collates scientific research and disseminates information on supplementation and nutrition, citicoline seems to have a minor positive effect on cognition. There’s little conclusive evidence it boosts energy. Same goes for tyrosine. L-Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid, meaning we must get it via diet or supplementation. It helps build protein inside our body. It’s commonly found in meat, fish, eggs and dairy products. It’s been found to be have anti-depressive qualities, but little is known about how it effects energy levels in healthy people.
Taurine is also an amino acid, but a non-essential one. This means our body naturally produces it. It may be helpful for reducing anxiety, but the evidence for its energy-boosting abilities is mixed at best. Malic acid, an organic compound, is the main acid in many fruits. Like B vitamins, it helps us convert food into energy. Per Examine, Glucuronolactone is “a molecule commonly found as a component of energy drink formulations with surprisingly minimal research on it…studies ‘disassembling’ the constituents of energy drinks suggest (it has) no significant contribution towards energy.”
So the first six ingredients in the energy blend shouldn’t be expected to provide you with the instant energy boost 5-Hour Energy promises in many of their commercials and marketing materials. That’s where the final ingredient of the blend comes in—caffeine. At 200mg per serving, your standard 5-Hour Energy shot contains an amount of caffeine comparable to a grande Starbucks Iced Coffee. While the other ingredients in the energy blend may have a small effect, caffeine is the real secret behind the energy boost people associate with 5-Hour Energy.
Often referred to as the world’s most popular drug, caffeine is a “powerful stimulant (that) can be used to improve physical strength and and endurance.” Caffeine promotes alertness by attaching to the same receptors that uptake adenosine, a compound responsible for making us sleepy. By blocking that adenosine, the amount of excitatory neurotransmitters in our brain increases. Thus, we feel less tired and more energized.
While caffeine’s stimulating abilities are quite well-known, it also has some powerful benefits for athletes. Studies have found a comparable amount of caffeine to that contained in a 5-Hour Energy shot can help reduce pain during exercise, reduce perceived pain after exercise and delay exhaustion.
“Caffeine, studied in its isolated form, has been found to be one of the most tried and true performance enhancing substances of all time. It can basically just help you get that extra push you need during an athletic performance,” Ryan Andrews, RD and nutrition coach at Precision Nutrition, told STACK.
A 200mg dose of caffeine has also been found to enhance “memory consolidation” (essentially the process of turning a short-term memory into a long-term memory). The noticeable effects of caffeine typically last four to six hours, hence the name 5-Hour Energy.
While pre-workout caffeine supplementation certainly has some benefit for athletes, they should not fall into the trap of believing a 5-Hour Energy is a sufficient pre-workout snack. Your body needs carbs to fuel exercise, and 5-Hour Energy shots don’t contain any. If your body doesn’t have sufficient carbs to fuel your activity, you’ll feel sluggish and out of sorts. “Human bodies don’t necessarily stop when they run out of carbs, but they do slow down,” says Roberta Anding, Sports Dietitian for the Houston Astros. 5-Hour Energy shots cannot replace the crucial role real food plays in performance nutrition.
The remaining ingredients inside a 5-Hour Energy shot are purified water, natural and artificial flavors, sucraclose (a no-calorie artificial sweetener), and a host of common food additives that are generally considered safe (potassium sorbate, sodium benzoate and EDTA).
Are 5-Hour Energy Shots Safe?
While the ingredients are all relatively safe, is there any potential danger in consuming 5-Hour Energy shots?
The company says woman who are pregnant or nursing and children should avoid the product, but that’s standard procedure for any product that contains significant amounts of caffeine. People diagnosed with phenylketonuria, a condition where the body cannot adequately metabolize phenylalanine, should keep away, as well. They also warn you should check with a doctor before taking the product if you’re currently on any prescription medications or have a medical condition.
Additionally, the company warns against taking more than two bottles daily. And if you do take two bottles, they should be consumed several hours apart. The compact nature of 5-Hour Energy shots means they can be downed in mere seconds, making them more susceptible to abuse than a steaming cup of hot coffee, so this is wise advice. Although 400mg of caffeine per day is generally considered safe for healthy adults, and 2.5mg per kg of body weight is generally considered safe for healthy adolescents, consuming too much caffeine too fast can bring about side effects like rapid heartbeat, agitation and nausea. Ingesting extreme amounts of caffeine during a short period of time can even lead to death.
But for healthy people who are not overly sensitive to caffeine, could 5-Hour Energy shots pose any other risks?
Apparently a “niacin flush” is a common enough side effect to earn several mentions on the company’s official website. A niacin flush occurs in some people after they ingest high amounts of niacin in a short period of time. The high amounts of niacin cause increased blood flow around the skin, resulting in red skin (most commonly on the face) accompanied by a burning or itching sensation. While a “niacin flush” can be a frightening experience, it’s ultimately harmless and typically resolves itself within an hour or two. The company says taking half a bottle of 5-Hour Energy at a time is an easy way to avoid this side effect.
For most people, taking a 5-Hour Energy shot now and again is largely harmless. You’d likely receive much more benefit from a cup of coffee thanks to its abundance of organic acids and antioxidants, but if you’re in a pinch and need a pick-me-up, a 5-Hour Energy shot will suffice. However, if you are new to the product, we recommend first attempting it in a low-risk environment so you can monitor any side effects you may have.
While 5-Hour Energy shots can help give you a “boost” of energy the same way a cup of joe can, the best way to keep your energy levels high throughout the day is by eating a varied, well-balanced diet. If you find yourself constantly relying on 5-Hour Energy shots to get through the day, you should examine your lifestyle and diet choices to try to pinpoint the cause of your consistent fatigue.
Photo Credit: jfmdesign/iStock, andresr/iStock, Kieferpix/iStock
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Niacin, an ingredient in energy drinks, could give you hepatitis, new study finds
You really can have too much of a good thing. Case in point: The niacin, aka vitamin B3, in energy drinks could lead to acute hepatitis.
On Tuesday, a case study published in the British Journal of Medicine revealed that a previously healthy man in his 50s contracted hepatitis after he went HAM on energy drinks.
The man worked as a construction worker and, to keep up with his demanding job, began chugging four to five energy drinks per day for roughly three weeks. He entered the hospital for abdominal pain, vomiting, dark urine and scleral icterus (his eyes had turned yellow).
5-hour EnergySpencer Platt/Getty Images
Doctors determined that the man had contracted acute hepatitis, and, since he was “previously healthy” and did not report any blood transfusions or “high risk” sexual behavior, they blamed the hepatitis on the man’s energy drink binges.
Though the patient had underlying hepatitis C, a chronic viral infection that leads to an inflamed liver, the doctors did not believe the underlying condition was responsible for the acute hepatitis that presented itself. (Acute hepatitis is short-term hepatitis that must be treated to reduce risk of chronic hepatitis.)
In 2011, a separate patient developed acute hepatitis after an energy drink binge. A woman in her 20s developed hepatitis after drinking 10 cans of energy drinks a day for two weeks, a case study noted.
Here’s how energy drinks deteriorate the liver
The case study noted that the high concentration of B vitamins in energy drinks can be toxic, but it’s the high concentration of vitamin B3 (niacin) that likely led to this man’s hepatitis. The patient was consuming roughly 160 to 200 mg of niacin per day, which is similar to the 300 mg per day ingested by another patient with a case of energy drink-related hepatitis. Doctors noted that the effect of the niacin might have been magnified by other ingredients in the energy drinks. (Ahem, tons of caffeine in energy drinks can make blood pressure skyrocket, cause sleeping problems and cause irritability, Mayo Clinic noted.)
Each bottle of the patient’s energy drink contained 40 mg of niacin, which is 200% of the daily recommended intake. This is slightly above average for energy drinks — 5 Hour Energy shots contain 30 mg niacin (150% daily recommended intake), Monster Energy drink contains 24 mg niacin, Red Bull cans contain 25 mg niacin and a can of Rockstar Energy contains a whopping 47 mg niacin.
If you’re like, “hold up, aren’t vitamins good?”, you’re right. B-complex vitamins are incredibly important in helping the body use the food we eat in order to produce energy, or glucose, the University of Maryland Medical Center noted. These vitamins are key for healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. (Yup, liver!) Milk, eggs, rice, fish, peanuts and poultry are sources of niacin. Roughly 6 ounces of salmon, for example, contain 15 mg of niacin.
But unfortunately, energy drinks, as well as herbal and dietary supplements, make it ridiculously easy to ingest more than enough niacin and other typically healthful vitamins. These high concentrations of vitamins should be taken into consideration when patients have liver problems with an unknown cause, the authors of the case study warned. Roughly “23,000 emergency department visits every year are due to adverse effects related to dietary supplements,” the study authors wrote.
“A solitary case report on one middle-aged man, whose long-term medical history is unknown, does not constitute scientific evidence,” a spokesperson for the American Beverage Association, an industry group that spoke on behalf of Red Bull, said in an email. “Even the authors acknowledge that their report cannot and does not establish causation.”
If you want an energy drink to give you wings without potentially wrecking havoc on your liver, maybe don’t drink 10 cans in a day? Or even five?
Or, heck, even just one can could have some pretty bad consequences — a small study found just one energy drink could increase your risk for heart disease. Other studies found popular energy drinks can be dehydrating, which leads to fatigue and headaches, the Huffington Post reported.
The lead author of the study did not immediately respond to Mic’s request for comment. Monster Energy, 5 Hour Energy and Rockstar did not immediately respond to request for comment.
November 4, 2016, 3 p.m.: This article has been updated.
What should you do if you feel tired? Taking a nap isn’t always possible. The ever-inventive capitalist marketplace has come up with another option.
5-hour Energy is a flavored energy drink sold as 2 oz “shots.” It was invented by Innovation Ventures in 2004. It is intended to counteract the afternoon slump, to increase alertness and energy, to help you stay sharp, improve attention, leave grogginess behind and sail through your day.
According to the label, its ingredients are:
- Niacin 30 mg — 150% of the RDA
- Vitamin B6 40 mg — 2000% of the RDA
- Folic acid 400 mg — 100% of the RDA
- Vitamin B12 500 mcg — 8333% of the RDA
- Energy blend: taurine, glucuronic acid, malic acid, N-acetyl L tyrosine, L-phenylalanine, caffeine, and citicoline. Total amount of blend: 1870 mg. The caffeine content is not specified on the label, but it is supposedly comparable to a cup of the leading premium coffee.
It contains only 4 calories, with no sugar.
A profitable business
Its taste has been compared to “chalky cough syrup,” but astute marketing has cornered 90% of the market and made millions if not billions for the company and its CEO, Manoj Bhargava, a mysterious entrepreneur who avoids the limelight. His paper trail consists primarily of 90 lawsuits.
The company warns that users may experience an uncomfortable niacin flush, that it should be avoided by people with phenylketonuria (PKU), by women who are pregnant or nursing, and by children under 12; and that large amounts of caffeine can be problematic for some people. The 8,333% of RDA of vitamin B12 might seem alarming but is probably safe, since there is little or no toxicity from high doses of B12; but one wonders why they chose to put so much in the product.
There has already been one lawsuit alleging that the product triggered a heart attack and that without the deceptive label the victim would not have used it. The case was voluntarily dismissed. There is a case report of an adolescent experiencing his first-ever seizure after consuming 5-hour Energy. There’s another report of a woman who damaged her liver and ended up in the hospital because she exceeded the dose recommended on the label.
Does it work better than caffeine alone?
Consumer Reports reported on 5-hour Energy. They had access to an unpublished double-blind study furnished by the company. I couldn’t find that study, but I did find a study where they compared 5-hour Energy to the vehicle alone, and not surprisingly the mixture containing caffeine was superior to the version with no active ingredients. Of course caffeine works better than no caffeine; the question is whether 5-hour Energy works better than caffeine alone. As far as I could determine, that has never been tested. Consumer Reports concluded that:
5-Hour Energy will probably chase away grogginess at least as well as a cup of coffee.
I think they got it just about right.
What do the other ingredients do?
- Their claims for B vitamins amount to vague support claims, like “niacin is important for energy production.” There is no evidence that B vitamins would increase energy levels unless the user was suffering from a clinically-significant B vitamin deficiency.
- They claim that citicholine plays a role in neurotransmission and can help support brain function. Citicholine has been used for Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, head trauma, and thinking problems related to circulation problems in the brain, but there’s no evidence that it benefits healthy people who are tired.
- They claim that tyrosine transmits nerve impulses to the brain. Yeah, so what?
- They claim that phenylalanine enhances alertness, but I couldn’t find any studies in PubMed to support that claim.
- They say that taurine plays a role in digestion and maintains the integrity of cell membranes. Yeah, so what?
- For malic acid, they only say the body synthesizes it in the process of converting carbohydrates into energy. Yeah, so what?
- They claim that glucuronolactone has been shown to reduce sleepiness, but the only study I could find tested it in an energy drink that also contained caffeine.
The majority of these claims had an asterisk to a footnote with the usual disclaimer: “* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
How did they choose this mixture of ingredients?
I asked the company that question and did not get a response. There doesn’t seem to be any rationale for anything but the caffeine, and certainly no rationale for the specific amounts of each ingredient.
There is a small study suggesting that L-ornithine supplements might benefit people with physical fatigue, but that’s not in the 5-hour Energy formulation. Why not?
I can only guess that the formula was not created by rational design, but was brainstormed by non-scientists looking for anything they could add to caffeine that might impress the naïve consumer and help sell their product.
Why I’m not going to buy it
- If you are getting tired during the day, instead of counteracting the fatigue with drugs it would be more useful to look for underlying causes: for instance, it might mean you are not getting enough sleep at night.
- A nap or exercise might be a better choice than caffeine.
- Coffee tastes good and the warmth is satisfying: I wouldn’t want to give up my pleasure. Sitting down with a cuppa to rest and change gears appeals far more to me than chugging a quick shot of an energy drink.
- Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants and is thought to have health benefits that caffeine alone doesn’t. /li>
- Just on general principles, it seems prudent to avoid high doses of unnecessary ingredients, especially when the particular mix of ingredients has never been properly tested for safety.
Why others might rationally choose to buy it
It’s a source of caffeine that is convenient to carry and to use and does not involve large amounts of liquid or calories. The other ingredients are unnecessary but probably not harmful. It costs less than a cup of Starbucks coffee.
“Try it for yourself”
I was urged to try it, but I’m going to pass. Trying something to see if it works for you sounds intuitively reasonable, but the history of science has taught us otherwise. Personal experience is often misleading and it contaminates our ability to judge something objectively.
What is in 5 Hour Energy ?
5-Hour Energy contains B6 that helps producing amino acids. Amino acids are very useful elements that helps building protein blocks needed by human body. Not only that Amino acids are used in the creation of DNA and also they are involved in important processes in our bodies. Beans, meat, fish, cereal and other similar food items are good sources of amino acids.
Our body needs fuel to process carbohydrates into energy, Vitamin B12 fulfills the need to produce energy from carbohydrate. It is also used in amino acid production in our body.
Niacin – Vitamin B3
Niacin, known as Vitamin B3 is also used in energy production. Niacin converts fats, carbohydrates and proteins into useful energy that our body needs. One can get Niacin by consuming vegetables such as broccoli, tomatoes and dairy products.
Folic Acid – Vitamin B9
Our body needs new cells all the time. Production of new cells needs necessary vitamins. Folic acid is one of those necessary body cell building elements. As in general, green leafy vegetables and fruits are good sources of Folic Acid, also known as Vitamin B9.
Are you curious? What is in 5 Hour Energy that helps energise? Following list of energy blend will give you idea about important energy elements and their sources.
Citicoline is a compound that helps support brain function. It is water soluble compound that is used in constituent of brain tissues.
Tyrosine is an amino acid that can be gained from fish, meat, grains and dairy products. Tyrosine transmits nerve impulses to the brain in human bodies.
Phenylalanine is alertness enhancing amino acid that can be found in dairy products, leafy green vegetables, grains, fish and avocados.
Taurine is responsible in digestion process including processing calcium, potassium and sodium in human bodies. Taurine helps maintain integrity of cell membranes. Usually, white blood cells, central nervous system and muscles have high concentrations of Taurine in adult human bodies.
What is in 5 hour Energy Extra Strength
Malic acid plays major role in converting carbohydrates into energy. Main source of Malic acid are fruits. Apple is one of the best source of Malic acid that’s why an apple a day is recommended.
Glucuronolactone substance reduces sleepiness in human. This natural metabolite is produced in liver by glucose mobilization.
As we all know, Caffeine gives energy and alertness. 5 Hour Energy has different caffeine levels based on the type. Original 5 hour energy shot contains caffeine equivalent to a cup of a premium coffee. Decaf 5-hour energy shot contains caffeine equivalent to a half cup of a premium coffee. Extra Strength 5 hour energy name stands for extra energy boost and alertness. Due to the “extra” energy boost and alertness characteristics, Extra Strength 5 Hour Energy shot contains caffeine equivalent to 12 oz premium coffee.
5 Hour Energy Shot Consumption and Safety
5 Hour Energy shot contains large amount of vitamins within safe limits for consumption. But excessive use of 5 hour energy shots is not good. It should be consumed in recommended daily amount by FDA.
Warning: Some people may experience “Niacin Flush” for few minutes. Niacin Flush is a hot prickly feeling along with tingling and skin redness. 5 Hour Energy contains Niacin that increases the blood flow near the skin. If you are sensitive to Niacin then you can avoid it by consuming half bottle at a time or dividing into small portions.
Now, as you have the answer for “What is in 5 hour energy?”, get ready to check out our 5 hour energy price. Buy 5 hour energy online and save money now!
Do 5-hour ENERGY® shots have any potential side effects?
Vitamin B3, otherwise known as niacin, is part of the energy blend in 5-hour ENERGY® shots. Niacin is an essential vitamin, and humans are recommended to consume around 15 mg of it daily. 5-hour ENERGY® shots contain twice that amount, with 30 mg of Niacin.
Some people have a sensitivity to large amounts of niacin and having too much in their system can cause a temporary reaction commonly referred to as a “niacin flush.”
What is niacin flush?
After consuming a product with a fair amount of niacin, those with a sensitivity to niacin sometimes report an increased flow of blood towards the skin, otherwise known as “flushing.” Generally, these reactions tend to only last for a few minutes, but they can be quite startling if you aren’t aware of what they are. Generally, a hot and itchy sensation will begin in the face and will often then spread to the arms and chest. These symptoms are often compared to the prickly feeling of “pins and needles” and can sometimes continue for up to an hour.
If you are concerned about niacin flush, we recommend starting with half a bottle of 5-hour ENERGY®. You can always put the rest of your energy shot in the fridge for later—just make sure you consume it within three days.
It also helps to have something in your stomach before you take a 5-hour ENERGY® shot or any products that contain niacin. It will help the vitamins absorb into your body at a slower pace, thus reducing the risk of an adverse reaction.
Are there dangerous levels of niacin and other vitamins in 5-hour ENERGY® shots?
No, of course not! We created 5-hour ENERGY® shots to help people feel awake and make the most out of their time, and the ingredient amounts are within safe limits. The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is the minimum daily amount set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine.
“The FDA is a scientific public health agency and must carefully investigate and evaluate all possible causes before deciding whether the product actually caused the medical problem,” Ward said in a Nov. 16 press release.
The FDA continued by saying that though 5-Hour Energy is listed in many reports, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the energy drink is the only factor causing the sicknesses and deaths in each respective claim.
“If we find a relationship between consumption of the product and harm, (the) FDA will take appropriate action to reduce or eliminate the risk,” Ward said.
The FDA said that although it investigates each to the best of its ability, it may not be able to conclusively determine what caused each individual case.
“The agency continues to work with the complainants, medical professionals, state and local health authorities, and dietary supplement manufacturers and distributors, who are required by law to report any new medical information received within a year of the adverse event report,” Ward said.
5-Hour Energy did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.
The FDA said consumers who take energy shots or drinks as an alternative to sleep can be especially at risk.
Sarah Van Orman, the executive director of University Health Services at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said she is very concerned about the growing market for energy drinks.
Van Orman said that in addition to the deaths listed in the report, there are nearly 13,000 emergency room visits a year relating to these drinks.
There are four main issues when it comes to energy drink consumption, she said.
First, Van Orman said that 5-hour Energy Drinks contain large amounts of caffeine concentrated in small volumes. When a person consumes several of the shots, he or she is quickly at the toxic level of caffeine.
“Acute caffeine toxicity can cause heart damage, seizures, nausea and vomiting, and in some cases cause a critical illness by causing overwhelming release of adrenaline-like hormones,” Van Orman said.
Van Orman said the second issue is that long-term daily use of energy drinks or supplements can cause kidney, heart and liver damage. It can also cause anxiety and other mental health problems along with physical dependance.
The third issue is that the other components of the drink can be potentially toxic, she said.
“The effect of high levels of some of these is not known, but for example, pyridoxine, a supplement found in many, is known to cause nerve damage at high doses,” Van Orman said.
Van Orman said the final issue is the effect of the drinks combined with alcoholic beverages.
“The caffeine in the drinks keeps people from feeling the sedating effects of alcohol, and they may not realize how intoxicated they are becoming,” Van Orman said. “There have been many cases of this leading to alcohol overdoses.”
Van Orman said she thinks these studies will eventually lead to the regulation of energy drinks, which she believes is crucial.
“Caffeine is a drug that has profound physiologic effects,” Van Orman said. “When consumed in the small quantities found in coffee, tea and soda, it is relatively safe. These newer energy drinks deliver the drug in very high doses that are well established to be toxic.”
Van Orman said one energy drink is equivalent to two cups of coffee, which is most likely fine. However, daily usage, the usage of several at once and combining the drink with alcohol can all be dangerous and lead to long term issues.
“If students are using them as a study aid, any short-term alertness will likely be outweighed by the negative effects of anxiousness and poor concentration and definitely not make up for sleep deprivation,” Van Orman said.
Daniel Bernard, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, isn’t surprised by the findings.
“It isn’t something that you should be using in excess,” Bernard said. “It’s kind of like cigarettes: too many of them isn’t good.”
5-Hour Energy: How Safe Is It Really?
All through college I had friends who swore that without the help of energy drinks, they would’ve failed out of school. These fairly normal, health-conscious buddies had no qualms at all about downing a can of Red Bull during a long night in the library, knocking back a shot of 5-Hour Energy before a big presentation, or even chugging a Monster or (gasp!) Four Loko in anticipation of a fun night out on the town. The recent uproar over energy drink-related deaths has raised questions about the presumed innocence of these beverages. Is swigging a chemical-laden elixir a necessary health evil, or is it truly dangerous?
Be Alert — The Need-to-Know
It’s not exactly news that energy drinks don’t qualify as superfoods. But are they actually harmful to our health? Last week, the Food and Drug Administration released files reporting 13 deaths and 90 “health incidents” possibly linked to 5-Hour Energy — a super-concentrated energy shot— in the past four years. The FDA also released reports citing 21 incidents attributed to Red Bull energy drinks. The “incidents” include heart attacks, convulsions, and (freakily enough) one case of spontaneous abortion. The information is especially scary coming on the heels of a similar report released last month, in which the FDA reported five deaths caused by Monster energy drinks. These reports aren’t the first to condemn energy drinks. In late 2011, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrationshared reports that over 13,000 emergency room visits were caused by energy drinks in 2009.
(Also Check Out: How Much Is Too Much Caffeine?)
Even discounting turn-of-the-century sodas laced with cocaine (it’s good for the heart, right?), alertness-boosting beverages aren’t anything new. In 1962, a Japanese company launched Lipovitan-D, an eye-opening mixture of Vitamin B and taurine, an amino acid found naturally in animal protein that may enhance brain and muscle power. The rest of the world wasn’t far behind — in 1982 Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz launched Red Bull, a potent combo of sugar and caffeine. The wing-granting beverage crossed the pond in 1997, and since then the U.S. energy drink market has grown exponentially Caffeinated energy drinks — a growing problem. Reissig CJ, Strain Ec, Griffiths RR. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, The Johns Hopkinds University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2009 Jan 1;99(1-3):1-10.. In 2010, six states banned Four Loko after people (most of them college students) were hospitalized, and in some cases died, after imbibing the beverage. The drink — a mix of caffeine, alcohol, taurine, and guarana — has been nicknamed “blackout in a can” for its dangerous ability to mask the effects of alcohol consumption. Due to pressure from the FDA, the company has since removed the drink’s caffeine components.
Buzz Buzz — Why It Matters
Conventional energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, and yes, 5-Hour Energy don’t contain booze, but that hardly makes them as safe as a sippy cup of apple juice. So what’s in those tiny bottles of 5-Hour Energy that are causing so much mayhem?
Plain ole’ caffeine is the main chemical ingredient in all of the beverages in question. According to Consumer Reports, one two-ounce bottle of 5-Hour Energy has 215 milligrams of caffeine. On its website, 5-Hour Energy claims one bottle contains the same amount of caffeine as a large cup of coffee — between 100 and 150 milligrams. Does something seem fishy here? While studying the caffeine content of 27 popular energy drinks, Consumer Reports found that many companies under-reported the caffeine levels in their products by an average of 20 percent.
Five-Hour Energy also contains guarana, a plant chock-full of caffeine and taurine. Taurine is naturally found in meat and fish and has legitimate health benefits like supporting neurological development (it’s also present in breastmilk) and regulating mineral salts in the blood.Whether it actually improves athletic or mental prowess in adults is not clear. Five-Hour Energy also contains amino acids L-tyrosine and L-phenylalanine, which have very similar effects to taurine. Sounds safe, right? Although the compounds on their own are probably safe to consume, the results of interactions between these chemicals — not to mention oodles of caffeine and sugar — are totally unknown.
Last but not least, energy drinks are loaded with sugar. Five-Hour Energy claims to contain zero grams of sugar, but other brands aren’t in league. Red Bull and Monster manage to pour 27 grams of sugar in each serving, while Rockstar hits an even 30 grams per serving. What’s the problem with so much of the sweet stuff, anyway? Releasing that much glucose into the bloodstream at once can cause insulin and blood sugar levels to skyrocket. The long-term consequences for high blood sugar — aka hyperglycemia — can be more serious than a mouthful of cavities. Studies show that hyperglycemia can lead to brain shrinkage, type 2 diabetes, and future dementia.
The most dangerous consequence of downing energy drinks is the huge caffeine spike. Taking in huge volumes of caffeine spikes blood pressure and sometimes causes “caffeine intoxication,” which can result in serious conditions like tachycardia, vomiting, cardiac arrhythmias, seizures, and in the case of the 5-Hour Energy, 13 deathsToxicity of energy drinks. Wolk BJ, Ganetsky M, Babu KM. Division of Medical Toxicology, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Massachusetts, Massachusetts, USA. Curr Opin Pediatr. 2012 Apr;24(2):243-51.. A potent brew of caffeine and sugar almost always results in dehydration. Lots of sugar can make it harder for the body to absorb fluids, which isn’t ideal, especially given caffeine diuretic propertiesDiuretic potential of energy drinks. Riesenhuber A, Boehm M, Posch M, Aufricht C. Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria. Amino Acids. 2006 Jul;31(1):81-3..
What about those other weird ingredients? Studies show that the levels of additional “energizing” compounds like guarana, taurine, and ginseng are too small to cause noticeable, adverse health effectsSafety issues associated with commercially available energy drinks. Clauson KA, Shields KM, McQueen CE, Persad N. College of Pharmacy-West Palm Beach, Nova Southeastern University, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, USA. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2008 May-Jun;48(3):e55-63..
Experts agree that energy drinks can be dangerous because like all drugs (yes, caffeine is a drug, people), they affect every person differently. For a healthy adult, a sip or two of an energy drink shouldn’t cause harm, but it’s very difficult to predict how chemicals will react in the body. Users are advised to go easy on volume, but energy drinks are often and easily abused. Children and teenagers, people with heart conditions or high blood pressure, the elderly, and pregnant women are especially susceptible to extreme blood pressure and blood sugar spikes that can occur after downing an energy drink.
With so many funky chemicals involved, it’s a wonder people turn to energy drinks for that extra boost. To energize safely, stick to a tried-and-true method like drinking water, taking a walk outside, or simply getting enough sleep.
Do you think 5-Hour Energy and other energy drinks are dangerous, or just unhealthy? Join the conversation below or tweet the author at @SophBreene.