Skip The Monster and Make Your Own Energy Drink

Commercial energy drinks are sending more and more people to the hospital each year.  Between 2007 and 2011, the number of emergency room visits more than doubled from somewhere around 10,000 to almost 21,000.  In 2010, 58 percent of emergency room visits involved energy drinks alone.  Forty two percent also included drug or alcohol use.

As you may have guessed, many of these cases involved teens or young adults.  However there was an alarming spike in the number of people age 40 and over showing up in the hospital ER after consuming these beverages.  The symptoms most likely to bring people to hospital are insomnia, nervousness, headaches, rapid heart rate and seizures.

A report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration warns that energy drinks contain not only large amounts of caffeine, but many also have additional active ingredients that boost the effects of the caffeine.

Some doctors are concerned because the high levels of caffeine in energy drinks can cause an increase in heart rate and a spike in blood pressure, according to Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

Dr. Steinbaum recently told HealthDay that “In anyone that has underlying heart condition, these two effects can be deadly.”

Teens and young adults are the largest group of energy drink abusers and may pair the beverages with alcohol or drugs which accounts for 42% of reported ER visits.  But, drink-related ER visits by people age 40 and older increased 279 percent from 2007 to 2011.

Caffeine Content of Popular Energy Drinks

Below is a list of some of the most popular energy drinks with their caffeine content.  It’s enlightening to see that Mountain Dew – which at one time was the mother of all caffeinated beverages – looks wimpy compared to the others on the list:

  1. 5 Hour Energy – Caffeine – 138 mg per 2 ounces
  2. Amp Energy – Caffeine – 142 mg per 16 ounces
  3. Buzz Water – Caffeine – 200 mg per 16.9 ounces
  4. Brewed Coffee – Caffeine – 108 mg per 8 ounces
  5. Crunk Energy – Caffeine – 192 mg per 16 ounces
  6. Java Monster – Caffeine – 180 mg per 15 ounces
  7. Monster Energy – Caffeine – 160 mg per 16 ounces
  8. Mountain Dew – Caffeine 54 mg per 12 ounces
  9. Pepsi-Cola – Caffeine 38 mg per 12 ounces
  10. Red Bull – Caffeine 80 mg per 8.4 ounces
  11. Red Eye Energy – Caffeine 106  mg per 11.1 ounces

If you want to look up your favorite caffeinated beverage to find out what its caffeine content is, there’s an extensive list at

Make Your Own Natural Energy Drink

Chai tea and lemons with a shot of honey make a refreshing energy drink.

Chai tea and lemons with a shot of honey make a refreshing energy drink.

Most of us like to have some caffeine in our day.  I admit that I do.  I’m a coffee drinker.  Coffee helps me get my day started, and has kept me productive through many an afternoon slump.  I try to be careful not to overdo it and substitute this freshly made Lemon-Chai Tea energy concoction on days when I need to be alert but don’t want to risk being irritable or restless from too much caffeine.

Chai tea is made from a base of black tea mixed with spices like pepper, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  Black tea, the base ingredient, contains antioxidants which can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.  Chai tea has about 40 mg of caffeine per six ounces.  So, while there is some caffeine, it is delivered in a much lower does than coffee or other caffeinated beverages.

This simple recipe calls for four cups of brewed Chai tea, the juice of one fresh lemon, and two tablespoons of honey.

Chai tea bags simmering.

Chai tea bags simmering.

Simmer four tea bags for two to three minutes in four cups of water.  Add lemon juice and honey and chill.  Pour over crushed ice and add one or two lemon slices.  Enjoy!

Lemon Chai Tea = Energy!

Lemon Chai Tea = Energy!

Even if your caffeine habit hasn’t led to an emergency room visit, you might want to consider making your own energy drink so you’re not consuming all of the other questionable ingredients found in the commercial energy products.

Did you ever look to see exactly what’s in the energy drink you’re consuming?  Here are the ingredients in a Monster Energy Drink:  Energy Blend: L-Carnitine, Glucose, Caffeine, Guarana, Inositol, Glucuronolactone, Maltodextrin. Carbonated Water, Sucrose, Glucose, Citric Acid, Natural Flavors, Taurine, Sodium Citrate, Color Added, Panax Ginseng Root Extract, L-Carnitine, Caffeine, Sorbic Acid, Benzoic Acid, Niacinamide, Sodium Chloride, Glucuronolactone, Inositol, Guarana Seed Extract, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Sucralose, Riboflavin, Maltodextrin, Cyanocobalamin

Moving to a tea – or even coffee – based drink will give you a modest amount of caffeine and a generous amount of healthy antioxidants without sodium citrate, benzoic acid, glucose, and all of that other stuff.

Over To You

Do you have a favorite energy drink recipe?  Be Social!  Share!