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"Dangerous" Energy Drinks Attacked

A leading nutritionist warns of the risks of caffeine intoxication that energy drinks carry.

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By Reina Berger

05/23/12

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Dr. Kaayla Daniel, a certified clinical nutritionist seen on the Dr. Oz Show and NPR, has issued a strong warning of the dangers of caffeine-heavy energy drinks. She points out that energy drinks negatively impact our mental health, and have even been linked to deaths. “We have no way of knowing how much caffeine is in these drinks," says Daniel. "The labels don’t include this info.” The fact that energy drinks are marketed as supplements, rather than food, gives manufacturers a loophole to pump the drinks with caffeine, she claims: anything from “100 to a whopping 430 mg per 12 ounces,” compared with the 35 mg typically found in a can of Coke. Energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster and Full Throttle are heavily marketed towards college students, who use them to study harder—or party longer. But mixing alcohol (a "downer") with energy drinks ("uppers") isn't safe, warns Daniel. She explains that the combination creates a “'push-pull'” effect on the body that can lead to heart arrhythmias and potential heart failure. And caffeine alone can cause clinically recognized intoxication, with an unpleasant range of symptoms including anxiety, arrhythmias in extreme cases, and stomach upsets. Daniel adds that energy drinks are “definitely not a case of Mother Nature’s traditional wisdom, but rather of Father Technology’s profit making and experimentation.” She's unsurprised about recent news stories linking teen suicides to energy drinks: "Caffeine intoxication keeps the body in 'fight or flight' mode. This can leave people feeling very frightened and threatened. People taking in too much caffeine feel the physical symptoms of increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and panic akin to an outside 'emergency.'” Finally, Daniel warns that energy drinks may prompt further drug abuse, calling caffeine out as a potential “gateway drug.” 

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