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Energy drinks

Energy drinks are marketed by the companies that make them to seem like they increase energy levels.  As a result, energy drinks have become increasingly popular among children and teens.  However, energy drinks are not  considered to be a healthy choice for children, teens, pregnant and breastfeeding women because they often contain caffeine, sugar, taurine, vitamins, and herbs.  The long-term side effects of drinking energy drinks regularly are unknown.
In Canada, energy drinks can have up to 180 mg per serving of caffeine which is more caffeine than two espressos.  Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause side effects such as irritability, increased heart rate, headaches, nervousness, and high blood pressure.  Caffeine is found in ingredients such as kola nut, yerba mate and guarana.  Health Canada recommends that children 12 years of age and younger should not consume more that 2.5mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight per day.  For example, a child who weighs 47.7kg (105 lbs) should consume a maximum of 119 mg of caffeine per day (47.7 kg x 2.5 mg caffeine = 119 mg).
Herbs such as ginseng and gingko biloba are sometimes found in energy drinks and while these ingredients are marketed to make you think that they have benefits such as increasing physical and mental performance, this has not been supported by research.  In addition, it is important to know that herbs can interact with other supplements and medications.
Energy drinks are often high in sugar and may contain up to 17 teaspoons in a serving.  Vitamins such as Vitamin B are sometimes contained in energy drinks and are advertised suggesting they increase energy; however, this claim has not been supported by evidence.  Taurine is an amino acid commonly found in energy drinks and claim to be beneficial in keeping the consumer alert.  This has not been supported by evidence and the long-term effect of this ingredient is not yet known.   
Energy drinks should not be consumed with alcohol.  When people drink alcohol (a depressant) mixed with energy drinks (a stimulant), they are more likely to feel less impaired and therefore may drink more alcohol.  Health Canada does not permit the sale of drinks that contain both alcohol and energy drinks because it may increase the risk of harm.  
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