President’s Perspective – Energy Drinks

It may be because I enjoy the company of two teenagers at home, but I am noticing an increase in the consumption of energy drinks. There seems to be a number of different brands in Canada and are widely available in convenience stores, supermarkets, bars and gas stations. Often you will see them alongside the fruit drinks and soda pop. Some of the brands I have noticed include Red Bull, Impulse, SoBe and Diablo, but there are many others.

These energy drinks are not the same as sports drinks, such as Gatorade or Powerade, which have a specific purpose – to re-hydrate the body. Sport drinks provide sugars that the body burns to create energy and replenish electrolytes. In turn electrolytes maintain potassium and salt balances in the body. Energy drinks do not perform this function.

Energy drinks are meant to supply short-term mental and physical stimulation. Many contain caffeine and taurine (an amino acid, one of the building blocks of protein) and glucuronolactone (a carbohydrate). The problem with energy drinks arises when more is consumed than should be or if they are mixed with alcohol. They seem to have become quite popular at parties, in bars and at clubs. Rather than re-hydrating the body, like sports drinks do, energy drinks actually lead to dehydration.

A quick check with Health Canada shows that a few adverse reaction reports have been received, but it is not possible to ascertain if the symptoms reported were due to the effect of combining the energy drink with alcohol, or perhaps due to alcohol itself.

So, what to do? Well first of all, don’t drink excessive amounts of energy drinks. Red Bull, as an example, has instructions on the label that limits consumption to two cans a day (about 500mL). Don’t mix energy drinks with alcohol. If you are engaging in strenuous physical activity be sure to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water.

From where I stand, these energy drinks are safe when used as recommended; I do think that awareness of misuse needs to be better understood. Also, I suggest if anyone has a problem after consuming them, they should contact The Canada Vigilance Program of Health Canada. They can be reached toll free at 1-866-234-2345.

Safety, it is an Attitude.

Jack Smith, President