Energy drinks all about caffeine only: study

Other ingredients listed have no positive impact

By Avimuktesh Bhardwaj
Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

Energy drinks are fooling you with tall claims. A study has found that it is only the caffeine present in them that provides energy. All other ingredients like taurine, guaraná, ginseng, glucuronolactone and B-vitamins that the companies claim are beneficial have no such proven results. Most of the studies which show positive impacts of such ingredients are funded by the manufacturers.

For the study, researchers at T M McLellan Research Inc in Canada and Military Nutrition Division at the US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine in Massachusetts reviewed 243 published articles on the impacts of various constituents of energy drinks. They found “overwhelming lack of evidence to substantiate (such) claims.” Just 32 of these articles examined individual and combined effects of energy drinks’ constituents.
Different brands of energy drinks claim improved physical and cognitive performance with these constituents apart from caffeine.

For instance, Red Bull, the leading brand of energy drinks, claims improvement not only in physical and cognitive performance but also in vigilance, metabolism and overall well-being. While the company mentions various studies on its website to support its claims; it remains unclear whether these impacts are due to all of the constituents or just caffeine. Manufacturers of another brand, Crunk, claim its products have natural fruit juices, exotic herbs, ashwagandha, horny goat weed, white willow and skull cap.

 “Many of these studies were sponsored by the manufacturer of the product being evaluated. One could assume it is probably in the manufacturers’ best interest to determine whether their product is efficacious, but not necessarily to determine which ingredients, when given alone, are effective,” reads the paper.

The researchers note the positive impacts of caffeine if taken in limited amounts. So do the experts. “It is established that caffeine can be helpful if taken in limited amount. It improves performance to certain extent but its consumption should be limited,” says Seema Gulati, noted nutritionist and chief project officer of Nutrition, Diabetes Foundation India in Delhi. The health department of Canada recommends a maximum daily intake of 400 g of caffeine for adults. For children, the recommended limit is 85 mg per day.
The paper adds that high consumption of caffeine may result in health problems, including general toxicity, cardiovascular

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