5-Hour Energy drinks have been found to pose a variety of risks to users, and some of these risks can be exaggerated based on one’s age or preexisting health conditions. It is therefore critical to gain awareness of the potential health hazards this drink may have, and to question if the promise of a temporary energy boost is really worth exposing oneself to a number of potential debilitating effects.
Perhaps the most notable ingredient in 5-Hour Energy drinks is its caffeine. Some people choose to consume 5-Hour Energy drinks as a means to prepare for challenging schoolwork or before undergoing strenuous exercise, as small amounts of caffeine can encourage a beneficial amount of blood flow to make work easier. However, high levels of caffeine can induce nausea, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and frequent urination.
The copious amounts of caffeine in 5-Hour Energy drinks is particularly hard on adolescents and children, as it can reduce the bone density of those who consume too much of it. This leaves active children more vulnerable to injury when playing sports. Part of the reason for this is that caffeine blocks the absorption of calcium, additionally creating potential for disrupted growth during these critical periods.
Caffeine also suppresses the appetite, resulting in children and adolescents not eating enough food and consequently not getting sufficient nutrition. It is also important to note that, while the drinks possess less empty calories than other drink brands suitable for children and therefore significantly lowers the risk of weight gain, the chemicals that are used in substitution for carbohydrates are hazardously high for children.
The high presence of vitamin B6 in these drinks can cause a loss of muscle coordination in some individuals, a side effect which becomes more pronounced with each drink consumed. After five bottles of 5-Hour Energy, a person has consumed over 200 mg of vitamin B6, which is the level at which vitamin B6 is considered to be toxic to the nervous system. Reaching this level can result in the inability for a person to perform simple tasks and may cause temporary paralysis.
In addition to vitamin B6, 5-Hour Energy drinks carry high amounts of vitamin B3, also known as niacin. Sensitivity to niacin is strikingly common and makes people to prone to a number of side effects after intake, such as reddening of the skin. Those without a preexisting sensitivity to niacin are still at risk. Excess levels of vitamin B6 may cause a user to experience breathing problems, swelling of the mouth and throat, shortness of breath and wheezing, exhaustion, dizziness, frequent urination, insomnia, and skin irritation.
5-Hour Energy also contains a chemical called sodium benzoate. When this chemical is combined with vitamin C, it may cause carcinogens to be released in the body and pose a risk for long-term cancer. It is important, as a result, to never consume these energy drinks with drinks or foods that may contain vitamin C, such as oranges or peppers.
A health condition that should always cause one to avoid 5-Hour Energy drinks is phenylketonuria, which renders an individual unable to properly break down the amino acid phenylalanine. 5-Hour Energy drinks contain a large amount of phenylalanine as a sweetener, putting those with phenylketonuria at risk of developing severe brain damage upon excessive consumption. In addition, people who suffer from heart diseases or have cardiovascular issues are strongly advised to stay away from 5-Hour Energy drinks, as consumption of their ingredients could further exacerbate issues resulting from caffeine’s stimulating effects.
Adolescents are perhaps the most at risk of the health dangers associated with 5-Hour Energy drinks. This is largely due to an attitude of ‘invulnerability’ to the negative effects of caffeine and other chemicals, making them more likely to drink a harmful amount.
Adults should also be careful when consuming 5-Hour Energy drinks, especially when considering how easy it can be to drink too much of any caffeinated beverage. Caffeine is present in a number of beverages, including coffee and carbonated drinks such as Coca-Cola. The Mayo Clinic considers 500 to 600 milligrams of caffeine in a day to be heavy use, which is equivalent to around 6-8 cups of coffee or 4-5 5-Hour Energy shots.
When consuming any food or drink, it is important for one to be actively conscious of their body’s limitations and to be aware of the potential reactions that may occur as a result. The risks for one may dramatically differ for another based on a number of factors such as age and preexisting health conditions.