When you’re exhausted from waking up early for a full day of school and field hockey practice, then have to do a bunch of homework and studying when you get home, you may be tempted to pop a 5-Hour Energy shot to avoid crashing. But that really may not a good idea: The FDA is looking into 13 deaths that may be linked to drinking 5-Hour Energy shots. Yikes!
In fact, the FDA has 90 filings of health issues that might be related to 5-Hour Energy–and 30 of those cases had serious or life-threatening problems ranging from convulsions (eek!) to a miscarriage (oof!) to heart attacks (AHHH!). However, it’s important to note that it’s not clear if the health risks are directly related to 5-Hour Energy or not–but 5-Hour Energy was cited in those reports that were filed. Make sense? (They still have a lot of investigating to do.) For their part, the makers of 5-Hour Energy deny any health risks and reports of issues with the product.
The caffeine levels in 5-Hour Energy aren’t listed on the bottle, but they’re estimated to be a smidgen less than the normal amount in a tall Starbucks coffee. (It’s estimated that you have to consume about 10 grams of caffeine to overdose from it, and the average cup of coffee only has about 260 milligrams.) 5-Hour Energy also contains a whole lot of B-vitamins and taurine. The label does warn that pregnant women and anyone under 12 shouldn’t drink it, but warning labels don’t always work–people still smoke cigarettes, don’t they?
The controversy is getting a lot of attention in part because energy drink Monster made headlines when a 14-year-old girl died after drinking two cans in one day, though there may have been more at play in her death. Part of the issue with energy drinks is that they often contain similar ingredients to dietary supplements, but because they’re sold as beverages and not dietary aids, they’re often not subjected to the same scrutiny as their pill counterparts. Research shows that a lot of adverse effects reported by those who chug energy drinks often combined them with alcohol or prescription drugs, making for a very dangerous cocktail.
A lot more research needs to be done about 5-Hour Energy and energy drinks in general, but until it is, we advise you to steer clear. If you need an energy boost, eat an apple, stretch, take a nap–don’t take anything in liquid form that would freak you, your parents, or your doctor out if it were a pill!
Have you ever had a 5-Hour Energy shot? Have you ever had a weird reaction to energy drinks? How do you deal when you’re exhausted but still have a lot to do? Do the 5-Hour Energy reports freak you out? Tell us in the comments!