Energy drinks are soft drinks advertised as boosting energy. These drinks usually do not emphasize energy derived from the calories they contain, but rather through a choice of caffeine, vitamins, and herbal supplements the manufacturer has combined.
Generally energy drinks include methylxanthines (including caffeine), vitamin B and herbs. Other common ingredients are guarana, acai, and taurine, plus various forms of ginseng, maltodextrin, carbonated water, inositol, carnitine, creatine, glucuronolactone and ginkgo biloba. Some contain high levels of sugar, and many brands also offer artificially-sweetened 'diet' versions. The central ingredient in most energy drinks is caffeine, the same stimulant found in coffee or tea, often in the form of guarana or yerba mate.
A variety of physiological and psychological effects have been attributed to energy drinks and their ingredients. Two studies reported significant improvements in mental and cognitive performances as well as increased subjective alertness. Excess consumption of energy drinks may induce mild to moderate euphoria primarily caused by stimulant properties of caffeine and may also induce agitation, anxiety, irritability and insomnia. During repeated cycling tests in young healthy adults an energy drink significantly increased upper body muscle endurance. It has been suggested that reversal of caffeine withdrawal is a major component of the effects of caffeine on mood and performance.
Restorative properties were shown by a combination of caffeine and the sugar glucose in an energy drink, and some degree of synergy between the cognition-modulating effects of glucose and caffeine was also suggested. In one experiment, a glucose-based energy drink (containing caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone) was given to eleven tired participants being tested in a driving simulator. Lane drifting and reaction times were measured for two hours post-treatment and showed significant improvement.
Two articles concluded that the improved information processing and other effects could not be explained in terms of the restoration of plasma caffeine levels to normal following caffeine withdrawal.
Caution is warranted even for healthy adults who choose to consume energy beverages. Consumption of a single energy beverage will not lead to excessive caffeine intake; however, consumption of two or more beverages in a single day can. Other stimulants such as ginseng are often added to energy beverages and may enhance the effects of caffeine, and ingredients such as guarana themselves contain caffeine. Adverse effects associated with caffeine consumption in amounts greater than 400 mg include nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, increased urination, abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia), and stomach upset. Energy drinks do not provide electrolytes, and have a higher likelihood of an energy "crash-and-burn" effect. Caffeine in energy drinks can excrete water from the body to dilute high concentrations of sugar entering the blood stream, leading to dehydration. If the body is dehydrated by 1%, performance is decreased by up to 10%.
In the US, energy drinks have been linked with reports of nausea, abnormal heart rhythms and emergency room visits. The drinks may cause seizures due to the "crash" following the energy high that occurs after consumption. Caffeine dosage is not required to be on the product label for food in the United States, unlike drugs, but some advocates are urging the FDA to change this practice.
Until 2008, France banned the popular energy drink Red Bull after the death of eighteen-year-old Irish athlete Ross Cooney, who died as a result of playing a basketball game after consuming four cans of the drink. The French Scientific Committee (J.D. Birkel) concluded that Red Bull has excessive amounts of caffeine. Denmark also banned Red Bull for a while, although the ban has recently been revoked. Britain investigated the drink, but only issued a warning against its use by pregnant women and children.
In 2009 a school in Hove, England requested that local shops do not sell energy drinks to pupils. Headteacher Malvina Sanders added that "This was a preventative measure, as all research shows that consuming high-energy drinks can have a detrimental impact on the ability of young people to concentrate in class." The school has negotiated for their local branch of Tesco to display posters asking pupils not to ask for the products.
Although not marketed as such, the Scottish drink Irn-Bru may be considered the first energy drink, produced as "Iron Brew" in 1901. In Japan, the energy drink dates at least as far back as the early 1960s, with the release of the Lipovitan. Most such products in Japan bear little resemblance to soft drinks, and are sold instead in small brown glass medicine bottles or cans styled to resemble such containers. These "genki drinks", which are also produced in South Korea, are marketed primarily to the salaryman set.
In UK, Lucozade Energy was originally introduced in 1929 as a hospital drink for "aiding the recovery;" in the early 1980s, it was promoted as an energy drink for "replenishing lost energy."
The first drink marketed as being designed to improve the performance of athletes and sports stars arrived in the sixties. It was invented for the football team at the University of Florida, known as the Gators — hence its name, Gatorade. Designed to aid hydration and lengthen performance levels, it claimed that its ingredients were formulated for just such things. However, Gatorade is safer than many energy drinks and is known more as a sports drink.
In 1985, Jolt Cola was introduced in the United States. Its marketing strategy centered on the drink's caffeine content, billing it as a means to promote wakefulness. The initial slogan was, "All the sugar and twice the caffeine."
In 1995, PepsiCo launched Josta, the first energy drink introduced by a major US beverage company (one that had interests outside just energy drinks), but Pepsi discontinued the product in 1999.
In Europe, energy drinks were pioneered by the S. Spitz Company and a product named Power Horse, before the business savvy of Dietrich Mateschitz, an Austrian entrepreneur, ensured his Red Bull product became far better known, and a worldwide best seller. Mateschitz developed Red Bull based on the Thai drink Krating Daeng, itself based on Lipovitan. Red Bull is the dominant brand in the US after its introduction in 1997, with a market share of approximately 47%.
In New Zealand and Australia the current leading energy drinks product in those markets V was introduced by Frucor Beverages Frucor.
By the year 2001, the US energy drink market had grown to nearly 8 million per year in retail sales. Over the next 5 years, it grew an average of over 50% per year, totaling over $3 billion in 2005. Diet energy drinks are growing at nearly twice that rate within the category, as are 16-ounce sized energy drinks. The energy drink market became a $5.4 billion dollar market in 2007, and both Goldman Sachs and Mintel predict that it will hit $10 billion by 2010. Major companies' such as Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Molson, and Labatt have tried to match smaller companies' innovative and different approach, with marginal success.
Energy drinks are typically attractive to young people. Approximately 65% percent of its drinkers are between the ages of 13 and 35 years old, with males being approximately 65% of the market. A 2008 statewide Patient Poll conducted by the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s Institute for Good Medicine found that: 20 percent of respondents ages 21–30 had used energy drinks in high school or college to stay awake longer to study or write a paper; 70 percent of respondents knew someone who had used an energy drink to stay awake longer to study or work. Energy drinks are also popular as drink mixers.
In 2001 Coca-Cola marketed two Powerade brand energy drinks in bullet-shaped, screw-top aluminum bottle cans produced by Exal Corporation of Youngstown,Ohio. Powerade, the same as Gatorade, is better known as a sports drink and is safer than many energy drinks. In 2002 CCL Container and Mistic Brands, Inc., part of the Snapple Beverage Group, worked together on the national launch of Mistic RĒ, which used a recyclable aluminum bottle. Since its introduction, many energy drinks are now packaged in the aluminum bottles or bottlecans.
Capri Sun targeted 16-25 year-olds with its Island Refreshers line, graduating from a foil pouch design to a bottlecan or aluminum bottle. In the UK, Coca-Cola has marketed a direct Red Bull competitor, 'Sprite 3G', in a similar 250 mL can and has also launched 'Relentless', a juice-based energy drink in 500 mL cans.
UK supermarkets have launched their own brands of energy drinks at lower prices than the major soft drink manufacturers. These are mostly produced by US beverage maker Cott. Tesco supermarkets sell 'Kx"'(used to be known as 'Kick') in 250 mL cans and 1 L bottles, Sainsbury's sell 'Blue Bolt' in similar packaging, Asda sell 'Blue Charge' in similar packaging and Morrison's sell 'Source' in 250 mL cans. Cott sells a variety of other branded energy drinks to independent retailers in various containers.
Since 2002 there has been a growing trend for packaging energy drink in bigger cans. Since in many countries, including the US and Canada, there is a limitation on the maximum caffeine per serving in energy drinks, this allows manufacturers to include a greater amount of caffeine by including multiple servings per container. Popular brands such as Redbull and Monster have increased the amount of ounces per can. Conversely, the emergence of energy shots have gone the opposite way with much smaller packaging.
In 2007 energy drink powders and effervescent tablets were introduced, in the form of a tablet or powder that can be added to water to create an energy drink. These can offer a more portable option to cans and shots.
More recently,[when?] the industry has moved towards the use of natural stimulants and reduced sugar.
Energy drinks are often used as mixers with alcohol. Where energy drinks are stimulants, alcohol is a depressant. Energy drinks can lessen the subjective effects of alcohol intoxication like dizziness and headache. However, they may be unable to counteract some of the psychomotor impairments of alcohol intoxication. Consequently, the mix can be particularly hazardous as energy drinks can mask the influence of alcohol and a person may misinterpret their actual level of intoxication. In fact, people who drink mixers are more likely than non-mixers to drink more alcohol, and are also more likely to suffer alcohol-related consequences such as sexual assault, injury and riding with an intoxicated driver, even after adjusting for the number of drinks. Although people decide to drink energy drinks with alcohol with the intent of counteracting alcohol intoxication, a large majority do so to hide the taste of alcohol.
Both the caffeine in energy drinks and alcohol are known to act as diuretics and so could lead to excessive dehydration.
A mixer of "Battery" energy drink and vodka is known in Finland as akkuhappo (literally "battery acid")). A mixer of Jägermeister and "Battery" energy drink is known as Jekkupatteri (prank battery).
A common alcohol and energy drink mix is the Jägerbomb.
Several beverages have been marketed in the 2000s as "anti-energy", "chill out", or "relaxation" drinks, including Slow Cow, Drank, Mary Jane's Relaxing Soda, and Chill.
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