An energy drink is said to boost mental and physical energy. There are several brands today, including Red Bull, Monster, Rockstar, and Full Throttle. They usually have large amounts of caffeine and also contain taurine. Taurine (2-aminoethanesulfonic acid), an organic acid, is a major constituent of bile.
This is one of the very few proper studies to demonstrate a health benefit for energy drinks. Most of them have detected harmful effects, below are some headlines from studies or government actions on energy drinks:
- "Energy drinks damage teeth"
- "Energy drinks harm sporty children"
- "Energy drinks linked to heart risk"
- "French ban on Red Bull"
"In recent years the energy drink market has exploded, with more people than ever before turning to these products as quick 'pick me ups', whether to stay awake during all night study vigils or gain the edge in sport. With energy drinks containing both caffeine and taurine concerns have been raised of adverse effects on the heart. While caffeine increases blood pressure, studies suggest that taurine may stimulate the release of calcium from the sarcoplasmic reticulum."
Dr. Cameli and team used speckle-tracking echocardiography and echo Doppler analysis to determine what effect energy drinks may have on heart function.
Thirty-five participants, with an average age of 25 years, drank the energy drink equivalent of 168 ml/m2 of their body surface area. The drink contained both taurine and caffeine.
Before the volunteers consumed their energy drink, the team measured their heart rate, blood pressure, right ventricular function, and left ventricular function. These measurements were assessed again one hour after consuming their drink.
They found, at one hour after consuming their drinks:
- Heart rate (pulse) had risen by 1.2%
- Systolic blood pressure had risen by 2.6%
- Diastolic blood pressure had gone up by 6%
- Left ventricular function had improved after the energy drink
- ejection fraction rose by 5%
- mitral annular plane systolic excursion rose by 11%
- global longitudinal strain rose by 10%
- tortion (left ventricular twisting) rose by 22%
- Right ventricular function had also improved after the energy drink:
- right ventricular fractional area change rose by 2%
- tricuspid annular plane systolic excursion rose by 15%
- global and free wall right ventricular longitudinal strain rose by 8% and 5% respectively
Dr. Cameli said:
"Taken together these results show that energy drinks enhance contractions of both the left and right ventricles, thereby delivering a positive effect on myocardial function. This could be explained by the inotropic effect of taurine that, as previously demonstrated, stimulates the release of calcium from the sarcoplasmic reticulum." Our study was performed in young healthy individuals at rest. Future studies need to focus on whether such benefits persist after long term consumption of energy drinks, and what the effects are of consuming these drinks during physical activity. It will also be important to determine which of the effects are induced in patients with cardiac disease to further our understanding of the potential benefits or risks of energy drink consumption."
Energy Drinks A growing MarketGlobal energy drink consumption grew by 14% in 2011 compared the previous year, to 4.8 billion liters, according to Zenith International. Over the last five years, consumption has risen by about 10% annually. In 2011, the global energy drinks market was worth $37 billion. The energy shots market worldwide grew from $2 billion in 2007 to over $4.7 billion in 2011.
Zenith International says that energy drinks "remain the most dynamic segment in the soft drinks market, with strong growth in most countries."
Below is a breakdown of the global market, according to regional consumption:
- North America - 36%
- Asia Pacific - 22%
- Western Europe - 17%
- Latin America - 7%
- Australasia - 4%
Written by Christian Nordqvist