Reading between the lines

Manufacturers offer insightful information upon closer review


And just what IS that stuff?


Obtained from the bile of mammals which is found in the lower intestine and in small animals’ tissues. Also found in breast milk.


A naturally occurring chemical in the connective tissues of humans and animals. It is supposed to promote the excretion of toxins from the body and protect against cancer. There is no scientific evidence to support any of these claims.

Panax Ginseng

A plant that reportedly aids thinking, concentration, memory and stamina. May also be used to treat erectile dysfunction. Ginseng is used in traditional Chinese medicine as a calming agent, while it is used in Western medicine as a stimulant.

Guarana seed extract

Guarana is a plant named for the Guarani tribe in the Amazon. Guarana is used for weight loss, to enhance athletic performance, as a stimulant, and to reduce mental and physical fatigue. It is a frequent addition to energy drinks and weight loss products. Other uses include treatment of ongoing diarrhea, fever, heart problems, headache, joint pain, backache, and heat stress.

Milk thistle extract

Usually few, if any, serious side effects. May cause diarrhea. More rarely, it may cause nausea, bloating, gas, and upset stomach.


16 oz. can

280 calories

62 grams of sugar

160 mg. of caffeine

80 mg. of sodium

Warning label:

“Not recommended for children, pregnant women, or for those sensitive to caffeine.”

Supposed benefits:

According to the website, Rockstar is “enhanced” with a potent herbal blend of Guarana, Ginkgo, Ginseng and Milk Thistle, and is reportedly “the world’s most powerful energy drink.”

Health Risks:

The Food and Drug Administration website named Rockstar in 13 “adverse events” dating back to 2006. Cases involved increased heart rate, abdominal pain, nausea, and four hospitalizations. These incidents are allegations with no conclusion drawn until investigations are completed.

Full Throttle

16 oz. can

220 calories

58 grams of sugar

200 mg. of caffeine

160 mg. of sodium

Warning label:

“Not recommended for individuals under 18 years of age, pregnant or nursing women, or for those sensitive to caffeine.”

Supposed benefits:

According to its website, Full Throttle combines great taste with energy that allegedly gives a person a boost for a longer amount of time than any other energy drink.

Health Risks:

No specific claims concerning Full Throttle have been uncovered. As with all energy drinks, consuming Full Throttle too quickly or too often can result in health risks.


24 oz. can

300 calories

81 grams of sugar

240 mg. of caffeine

540 mg. of sodium

Warning label:

“Limit 2 cans per day. Not recommended for children, pregnant women, or people sensitive to caffeine.”

Supposed benefits:

According to its website, Monsters is used by “athletes, musicians, anarchists, co-ed’s, road warriors... and bikers.” It reportedly helps concentration for tests, assignments, in class or at work.

Health Risks:

The FDA has posted 40 “adverse-event reports” linking Monster with illnesses and a possible contributing factor in five deaths. One serving is 8 oz. The contents of one can is 24 oz. That means that the “supplemental facts” must be tripled if the entire can is consumed.

Red Bull

12 oz. can

160 calories

39 grams of sugar

120 mg. of caffeine

140 mg. of sodium

Warning label:


Supposed benefits:

According to its website, “Red Bull Energy Drink has been developed for people who want to have a clear and focused mind, perform physically and are performance- oriented.”

Health Risks:

Red Bull may be a contributing factor in several deaths and multiple hospitalizations in the past few years. France, Denmark and Norway allow Red Bull to be sold only in pharmacies. While Red Bull is not considered a serious health risk, it can raise some people’s heart rate and blood pressure.

What you need to know

The energy drink market is a $3.4 billion dollar a year industry. By some estimates, nearly one-third of US teenagers consume energy drinks. That’s nearly 8 million kids. Because so many teenagers consume energy drinks, they should know the supposed benefits compared to the health risks before grabbing and gulping. Unlike sipping coffee, people often gulp down energy drinks, increasing heart rate and creating a higher chance of physical complications.

These drinks have become a part of many high school students’ daily lives. They tend not to think about what is in the drinks or what can happen if a full can is consumed too quickly. Few take the time to review the warnings, ingredients or nutritional information. Advertising on the cans lead people to think that energy drinks are beneficial for a person’s health but not all the claims are true. There are many health issues with energy drinks that are being investigated by the Food and Drug Administration.


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