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The lowdown on caffeine overdoses - a sadly increasing trend

The ever growing rise of the energy drink is sadly contributing to a new epidemic of caffeine overdoses particular among children and young people.

Common ingredients in energy drinks

  • caffeine
  • guarana (a plant extract that contains caffeine and other compounds)
  • taurine
  • L-carnitine
  • ginseng
  • yohimbine

At the same time, energy drinks are often the same price or cheaper (somehow!) than standard soft drinks and are widely available to anyone of any age.

The result?

A significant rise in caffeine overdoses, though there are yet to be clear statistics on this subject - just some horribly sad news stories from across the world.

So what is a caffeine overdose and what are the symptoms?

  1. Jitters, Restlessness, and Nervousness
  2. Increased heartbeat
  3. Nausea
  4. Anxiety
  5. Heart palpitations (cardiac arrhythmia)
  6. Insomnia
  7. Sweating
  8. Dizziness
  9. Vomiting
  10. Cardiac arrest

So what can we do about it?

Well, the UK Food Standards Agency advises that “children, or other people sensitive to caffeine, should only consume in moderation drinks with high levels of caffeine”. To be honest, we don't believe the UK government is doing enough and even "moderate levels" of high caffeine drinks is too much.

Caffeine’s major effects are experienced for at least 4 hours though this is longer for those sensitive to caffeine and is longer with extremely large doses based on the half life of caffeine which is 4-6 hours. In short, caffeine is a strong drug and needs to be controlled.

We would recommend a maximum intake of 250mg-500mg of caffeine daily depending on a person's caffeine sensitivity (this varies from person to person).

To put that into perspective, a Red Bull contains 100mg, but Monster can contain 150mg to 200mg depending on the drink whilst a Starbucks can vary from 100mg to 250mg.

It's also important to count or monitor how much caffeine your consuming across the board. So, for example, you might have a coffee, then a tea, then an energy drink and then a soft drink. This all adds up.

Our final thought

What is the role of energy drinks? Is the role in any way positive? We do not believe so.

Energy drinks should at least be banned for certain age groups like alcohol and cigarettes. Likewise, it should be heavily taxed like alcohol - not cheaper than a pint of milk.

 

 

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