Experts Say Energy Drinks Have Little or No Benefit

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

What’s the deal with energy drinks? Are they effective? Are they safe? New studies say the ingredients in energy drinks don’t offer much, if anything, besides caffeine and sugar. All those other claims about “proprietary ingredients” and special blends just don’t pan out in the lab.

According to The New York Times, energy drink manufacturers market their drinks “not as caffeine-fueled concoctions but as specially engineered blends that provide something more”—the “more” being additives like huge doses of vitamins, glucuronolacton, or taurine, the latter of which Red Bull claims acts as a “detoxifying agent.”

But scientific studies have shown no additional benefit to consuming these additives in the form of an energy drink. If there is any benefit to them at all (and there is some research that says taurine, for example, might prevent heart attacks in women with high cholesterol) scientists say we’re likely to get more than adequate amounts of them from foods like meat. And the huge doses of vitamins? “They are not going to increase energy levels,” said Paul R. Thomas, a scientific adviser with the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements.

In fact, the authors of a recent report in the scientific journal Nutrition Reviews said that, other than caffeine and sugar, there was an “overwhelming lack of evidence to substantiate claims” that energy drinks provide any benefits.