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Natural Awakenings

Energy Drinks: Exercise Caution: Before Your Next Workout, Read This

Fans of workouts and athletics need to exercise caution when it comes to imbibing so-called energy drinks, according to Johns Hopkins University scientists, who have spent decades researching the effects of the caffeine they contain. They report that caffeinated energy drinks, often marketed as “performance enhancing,” should carry prominent labels that note their caffeine content and warn of potential health risks. Caffeine is a drug, and caffeine intoxication can lead to nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, gastrointestinal upset, rapid heartbeat and in rare cases, even death, according to the literature.

Research reveals that the caffeine content of energy drinks varies over a 10-fold range. Some brands contain the equivalent of 14 cans of Coca-Cola, according to the September, 2008 issue of the international journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

The market for energy drinks, now estimated at $5.4 billion in the United States, is expanding at an annual rate of 55 percent. Yet consumers, especially teens and young adults, remain largely unaware of the health risks associated with excessive caffeine consumption.

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