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Careful with ‘energy shots’!

© Flickr, Jayen Pancholi (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Those colourful little ‘energy shots’ are stacked full of chemical additives. They don’t just wake you up; they can also seriously mess up your cardiovascular system.

Energy shots, the concentrated version of the well-known energy drinks, have long been available in great numbers. But these miniature drinks – usually just 50 to 60 ml – pack quite a punch. They are many times more concentrated than the usual energy drinks. To find the warning notice on the packaging about not exceeding a daily dosage of one portion, you’ll need to peer at the small print. Energy shots taste extremely sweet but that’s really just to mask the bitter taste of caffeine. This dietary supplement contains a huge amount of caffeine, up to 200 mg per bottle: this alone is the equivalent of up to three cups of coffee. The ‘stimulant’ also contains taurine (an acid) and glucuronolactone (a carbohydrate) and sometimes ginseng. Unfortunately, there is no certainty about the interaction between these ingredients.


Confusion caused by stimulants?

“Giving wings to people and ideas” or even “Energize your life!” is what the advertising industry tells us about these stimulants. Consumer advocates have an entirely different view. The Department of Health in Hesse, for example, warns that excessive consumption can lead to “nervousness, insomnia, nausea and headaches” and sometimes even to “a distortion of perception, poisoning and confusion”.


Energy shots, sports and alcohol

The side effects mentioned above are even more pronounced when energy shots are taken during physical exertion or in connection with alcohol, states the Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, and even provides a list of unexplained deaths where the deceased had consumed energy shots before they died.


Consumer advocates want to prohibit the sale of these drinks

The Bundesinstitut für Risikobewertung and consumer advice centres demand that because energy shots can have such dramatic effects, they should be prohibited.


Energy drinks? What for?

Arguable is just what such an energy drink could be good for. As the name implies, these drinks promise a quick supply of fresh energy to the body. We’ve asked nutrition expert Angela Clausen of the Consumer Advice Centre North-Rhine Westphalia (Verbraucherzentrale NRW): “Taurine is an amino acid, a building block of protein made by the body and therefore available in sufficient quantity. There is no evidence to suggest that it influences performance. And if you don’t want to do without caffeine, you can just drink ordinary coffee or tea.” And what should you do when your body really shows signs of an energy slump? “Pay attention to what your body is saying and take a break,” Clausen advises. Incidentally: a perfectly ordinary apple spritzer can provide a refreshing boost with the natural sugars and vitamins it contains.

Published: Wed, 30/11/2016 - 17:05

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