Posted on Sep 17, 2019, 3 p.m.
Around the globe Red Bull is one of the highest selling energy drinks that is marketed to improve energy and boost both mental and physical performance. It may give you “wings” but what else does it give you and is it safe, as there are concerns over its safety and potential side effects.
This is a carbonated beverage containing caffeine and other energy boosting compounds including several B vitamins and taurine. It’s composition varies from country to country with additional ingredients including sugar, baking soda, citric acid magnesium carbonate, glucuronolactone, carbonated water, artificial colours, and artificial flavours, among others.
One 260 ml can can contain 112 calories, 1.2 grams of protein, 27 grams of carbs, 27 grams of sugar, and 75mg of caffeine; it is also available in sugar free options that are made with the artificial sweeteners aspartame and acesulfame K instead of sugar.
This beverage may provide a boost of energy but they may also cause short and long term side effects, especially when consumed in larger quantities. Despite research suggesting it may negatively affect your health this beverage remains popular.
Research has shown that adults drinking one 355ml can experience significantly increased blood pressure and heart rate levels within 90 minutes and up to 24 hours after consumption, which is thought to be due to the 108 mg of caffeine it contains. Excess intake in younger people is linked to abnormal heart rhythm, heart attack, and even death. Drinking this beverage could worsen and even be life threatening to those with pre-existing high blood pressure or heart disease.
Excess sugar intake may increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, drinking one or more of this sugar sweetened drink per day could increase your risk; a review of 310,819 adults found that drinking 1-2 sugar-sweetened drinks a day was associated with a 26% increase in risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Drinking acidic beverages, such as this beverage, has been shown to damage tooth enamel; one study found exposing human tooth enamel to energy drinks for 15 minutes, 4 times a day, over 5 days resulted in significant and irreversible loss of tooth enamel, and that energy drinks were twice as harmful as soft drinks.
Chronic and excessive intake of this beverage could have serious effects on kidney health. Research indicates that high sugar intake increases the risk of chronic kidney disease, and a 12 week animal study has found that chronic intake of Red Bull may cause decline in kidney function.
Research indicates that there is an association between drinking Red Bull and an increased high risk behavior, especially when mixed with alcohol; when combined the caffeine masks the effect of alcohol to make you feel less intoxicated while experiencing alcohol related impairments which can have serious consequences. College aged students who drank energy drinks mixed with alcohol were found to be more likely to drink and drive and experience serious alcohol related injuries. Young adults who drink energy drinks on a regular basis have been linked to an increased risk of alcohol dependence and illicit drug use. While not every one may experience an increase in high risk behaviors it is important to be aware of the potential risk.
It is recommended to limit caffeine intake to 400mg or less per day, safe doses vary from person to person. One can contains 75mg, consuming more than 5 could increase the risk of caffeine overdose. The average half life of caffeine in the blood ranges from 1.5-9.5 hours, meaning it could take 9.5 hours for it to drop to half of its original amount. Those under the age of 19 could be at greater risk of caffeine related side effects, as such recommendations are that caffeine is limited to 100mg or less per day in adolescents aged 12-19; those is that age group could have increased risk of overdose if they consume more than one Red Bull.
Sugar free options may be lower in calories but they contain the same amount of caffeine and still carry the same potential side effects, and may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes if consumed on a regular basis as it contains the artificial sweeteners aspartame and acesulfame K, which have been shown to be associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Excessive intake of Red Bull and other similar energy drinks have been linked to heart attacks and even death, most of which occurred in younger adults who drank them every day in excess. Many factors affect how much caffeine you need to drink for it to be dangerous. Recommendations limit caffeine to less than 400mg a day, cases of caffeine related deaths have primarily been with high intakes of 3-5 grams a day, which is about forty 260ml cans. However, in many of the sudden deaths involving energy drinks only 3-8 cans were drank in one day.
One study showed that healthy adults drinking 32 ounce of Red Bull a day for 3 days experienced significant changes in the interval between heartbeats. Such changes can lead to certain types of arrhythmias which may result in sudden death, risk is higher in those with heart disease or high blood pressure that was likely due to the combination of ingredients in the beverage.
Those with heart problems, children, pregnant and nursing women, and those who are caffeine sensitive are advised to avoid drinking Red Bull entirely. This beverage is sweetened and caffeinated with little nutritional value, there are healthier alternatives to help boost energy such as tea.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.