Fast Five Quiz: Do You Know About Newer Drugs of Abuse?

Mary L. Windle, PharmD


August 11, 2016

The rising popularity of caffeinated energy drinks over the past decade has raised new concerns about their impact on public health. Energy drinks contain substantially more caffeine than conventional cola beverages, with caffeine content ranging from 75 to 300 mg per serving. Many also contain caffeine-containing ingredients, such as guarana, kola nut, or yerba mate. These energy drinks are also sold in larger sizes (16-23.5 fl oz).

Energy drinks and shots are typically considered dietary supplements. Consequentially, no limitations are enforced on the amount of caffeine in dietary supplements, and manufacturers are not required to list the caffeine content of their products.

Caffeine has differing central nervous system, cardiovascular, and metabolic effects, based on the quantity ingested. Average doses of caffeine (85-250 mg, the equivalent of one to three cups of coffee) may result in feelings of alertness, decreased fatigue, and eased flow of thought. High doses (250-500 mg) can result in restlessness, nervousness, insomnia, and tremors. In high doses, caffeine can cause a hyperadrenergic syndrome resulting in seizures and cardiovascular instability.

A report published by the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition Adverse Event Reporting System cited 16 deaths related solely to Monster, 5-Hour Energy, and Rockstar energy drinks. Children younger than 5 years have the highest reported energy drink poisonings.

For more on caffeine toxicity, read here.


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