Wolf: Energy drinks can be beneficial

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Sports drinks can have a positive effect on concentration and increase taurine for regulating blood levels. They are beneficial when not abused.

Austin Wolf

Energy drinks such as Red Bull can vitalize your daily life and give you an edge over those who don’t have caffeine in their system. The energy drink business is a $41.5 billion industry targeted at 18-35 year olds. Energy drink companies do not just sell sugary drinks, they promote active lifestyles by sponsoring events such as Flugtag, an event sponsored by Red Bull where participants drink a whole bunch of Red Bull and try their luck at flying homemade aerial vehicles off a cliff. Events such as this encourage younger people to get off the couch and do something that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. Red Bull also sponsors many professional athletes, such as Levi LaVallee, who holds the world record for longest jump on a snowmobile.

“But aren’t they bad for me?” is the major question that most people ask, and for good reason. While energy drinks are known to have excessive amounts of sugar and additives in them, they aren’t so bad if taken in small quantities. One 8.3-ounce can of Red Bull has 110 calories and 80mg of caffeine. This pales in comparison to the famous Starbucks Cappuccino, which has 120 calories and 150mg of caffeine. It is generally accepted that 300mg of caffeine per day is safe. A cup of green tea has 36mg of caffeine, while a cup of black tea has 110mg., each with a modest 54 calories with some sugar and creamer added.

An Italian study actually found that drinking energy drinks that contain caffeine and taurine could boost heart function. Function in the left and right ventricles, which pump blood to the body, increased one hour after consuming an energy drink according to the researchers who conducted a study on 35 subjects with an average age of 25.

Red Bull argues that their drinks are for those who want to be “physically and mentally fit,” alluding to the activities they suggest pairing with one of their drinks. Red Bull suggests that you try their drink “during study sessions, intense work days, and late nights out, while on the road, and playing sports or video games.”

While on the road, concentration, reaction speed and vigilance can be improved by drinking an energy drink, which could save your life. A study done at the University of Western Australia showed that administering caffeine to 10 male athletes improved each of their times in a sprint race, where reaction time is extremely important. Reaction time is a key part of avoiding an accident and it has been verified that it can be improved with the ingestion of caffeine.

Caffeine and taurine can also have a positive effect on concentration, which could really help you get through those long nights studying for a big test coming up. While this can help keep you awake and focused, it’s important to remember that caffeine could keep you wide-eyed all night long.

This concentration can also help in the workplace, improving performance during meetings, conference calls, and brainstorming sessions. Improving performance at work could improve your chances of getting that promotion you’ve had your eye on.

Energy drinks also are a great source of taurine, which is an amino acid that supports neurological development and helps regulate the level of water and mineral salts in the blood. It has been shown to improve athletic performance, which is why energy drinks add them. Studies have shown that caffeine paired with taurine can also improve mental performance.

More problems arise with energy drinks when they are abused. Most energy-drink-induced health problems reported are caused by overdoses of caffeine due to the consumption of 4+ energy drinks over the course of one night. Patients come to the doctor with headaches, dizziness, and heart palpitations. People also abuse caffeine by pairing it with alcohol, which can be even more dangerous. It inhibits the individual’s ability to accurately assess how drunk they really are, which can lead to risky situations. Caffeine paired with alcohol has also been shown to make people make more irrational decisions that can lead to serious injuries.

Energy drinks can really give you that extra kick that you need to perform well during your day, whether you’re studying, working, or driving. As long as they are not abused, energy drinks can help get your juices flowing when you aren’t feeling on top of your game.

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Austin Wolf is a junior in mechanical engineering from Excelsior, Minnesota.