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Energy drinks: Consume with caution!

Published on October 21, 2019 at 14:43 / Updated on February 2, 2024 at 15:00

Red Bull, Blow, Rockstar, Guru, Monster, Cocaine Energy Drink, No Fear, Wired X505… Sound familiar? They are all popular energy drinks.

Energy drinks supply mental and physical stimulation for a short period of time. They usually contain caffeine, taurine (an amino acid that acts as a cardiac stimulant) and vitamins. An energy drink can contain 50 to 505 mg of caffeine, whereas an average cup of regular coffee only contains about 100 mg. According to Health Canada, adults should not consume more than 400 mg of caffeine per day. In the case of a 10- to 12-year-old child, the limit is 85 mg. A single energy drink can therefore contain an amount of caffeine that greatly exceeds the recommended daily intake for children.

These beverages have become popular in bars, where they are often mixed with alcohol. However, several studies have shown that such combinations can pose health risks. Rather than re-hydrating the body, these drinks may actually have the opposite effect. In addition, energy drinks increase the stimulant effect of alcohol while reducing both its depressant effect and the perception of intoxication. In other words, individuals may be drunk but not realize it. And even though they are still awake, their judgment is greatly altered, which can lead to unfortunate decisions. Consequently, energy drinks should never be consumed in combination with alcohol.

The use of energy drinks during sports activities is also raising some concerns. These beverages should not be confused with sports drinks such as Gatorade or Powerade, which contain sugar and electrolytes.

The leading sports medicine associations in Quebec (Association québécoise des médecins du sport and the Conseil de médecine du sport du Québec) both advise against using energy drinks during sports activities, especially in young children, as they can:
- cause anxiety and tremor, which impedes coordination
- increase aggressiveness, delay the onset of fatigue and decrease the pain perception threshold, which increases the risk of injury
- promote dehydration
- cause gastric problems
- promote heart problems

It is therefore important to teach your children to use energy drinks wisely and to never combine them with alcohol.

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