Red Bull is a drink which is sold by Red Bull, GmbH, Austria. It is the brand name of the drink, which originated in Thailand and was adjusted to suit the European (Austrian) palate. According to the manufacturers, Red Bull is aimed at people wanting to combat mental and physical fatigue.

A 250 ml (8.3 fl. oz) can contains -

-- 21.5 g sucrose
Table sugar

-- 5.25 g of glucose
A 'simple' sugar.

-- 50 mg of inositol
A type of sugar which has a different chemical structure to glucose. It is a basic part of cell membranes - crucial in brain, nerve and muscle function. It comes from plants and can be commonly found in many foods. It is currently being studied for potential cancer prevention.

-- 1000 mg of taurine
Also known as 2-aminoethanesulfonic acid, or sulfonic acid, it is an organic acid. It is a major ingredient of bile. It is also present in small amounts in living tissues of humans and most animals. Cats cannot synthesize taurine - it is essential for the health of a cat. Taurine deficiency will cause irreversible blindness in cats, as well as tooth decay and hair loss - plus some other negative health conditions. Studies have not convincingly shown taurine to be an energy booster when added to drinks.

-- 600 mg of glucuronolactone
A naturally occurring chemical compound produced by the human liver during glucose metabolism. It is a crucial component for nearly all our connective tissues. It is commonly found in plant gums. It is added to drinks because it is said to boost the consumer's energy.

-- 20 mg of Niacin
A type of Vitamin B that increases blood HDL levels (good cholesterol)

-- 5 mg of Vitamin B6
Also known as pyridoxine, we need it for the synthesis of the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, and for myelin formation. People who suffer from pyridoxine deficiency have problems with their peripheral nerves, skin, mucous membranes and their blood cell system. The central nervous system of children with pyridoxine deficiency is affected. The number of people with mild pyridoxine deficiency is surprisingly higher than most of us realize.

-- 5 mg of Pantothenic Acid
Also called Vitamin B5. It is water-soluble - the body can't store it. If the body can't use all of the vitamin, the excess leaves the body through the urine. It must be replaced every day. As well as being essential for growth, it helps the body break down and use food (metabolism).

-- 0.005 mg of Vitamin B12
Also called cobalamin. We need it to make red blood cells and DNA - it is also used to keep nerves healthy. It is commonly given to cancer patients, along with folate, to help reduce the side-effects of cancer treatment with antimetabolites (type of drugs).

-- 80 mg of caffeine
It is the same compound as guaranine which is found in guarana, theine which is found in tea, and mateine which is found in mate. Caffeine is a mild diuretic (a substance which increases the amount of urine you pass - it makes you shed more water/liquid). Caffeine acts as a psychoactive stimulant drug. In humans caffeine can restore alertness temporarily. It is commonly found in coffee, tea, soft drinks and energy drinks. It is the most popular psychoactive substance on earth.

Sugar-free Red Bull has no sucrose or glucose, and has aspartame and acesulfame potassium instead.

The makers of Red Bull say it is made so that it tastes of mixed berried. In 2006 over 3 billion cans of Red Bull were sold around the world, generating sales of 2.6 billion Euros.

A 250 ml can of Red Bull has about the same amount of caffeine as one would find in a 250 ml cup of coffee - about double what you would consume if you had a 330 ml can of Coke.

Some countries, such as France, have banned the sale of Red Bull, mainly because of its taurine and caffeine content and its popularity with young teenagers. Norway, Uruguay, Denmark and Iceland do not allow the sale of Red Bull.

Is Red Bull a Health Risk?

Red Bull is a controversial product. People either love or hate the taste, defend it faithfully or attack it furiously. Most studies have not shown that Red Bull is a serious hazard to health. However, as it can raise some people's heart rate and blood pressure some health care professionals advise those with heart conditions and hypertension to be careful.

Red Bull is very popular with young people. It is commonly mixed with vodka to make a cocktail. Some young people can consume excessive amounts of Red Bull and require medical attention.

Two weeks ago a 15-year-old boy suffered heart palpitations in Darlington, UK, after a Red Bull binge, according to paramedics. He had consumed eight cans in one sitting and had to be taken to the Memorial Hospital, Darlington on February 14th, 2008.

A Brazilian study found that those who mix Red Bull with alcohol may be drunker than they think they are - the energy drink may mask the alcohol effect.

-- How good are these energy drinks?
-- The Perils Of Mixing Energy Drinks With Alcohol
-- French ban on Red Bull (drink) upheld by European Court
-- Scientists Close In On Taurine's Activity In The Brain

Written by - Christian Nordqvist