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Posted November 4, 2016

Energy Drink Linked to Case of Acute Hepatitis

A case of acute hepatitis has been linked to daily consumption of energy drinks, according to a report published on November 1, 2016, in BMJ Case Reports.

The report describes a previously healthy 50 year old man who had been drinking 4 to 5 energy drinks daily for at least three weeks and was admitted to the emergency department after experiencing two weeks of fatigue, lack of appetite and abdominal pain, followed by nausea, vomiting and yellowing of the skin and eyes. Doctors ruled out other potential causes of his symptoms, and noted that a single bottle of the energy drink he regularly consumed contained 40 mg of niacin (an amount which exceeds the Upper Tolerable Intake Level (UL) for adults) and that the man had consumed a daily total of approximately 160 mg to 200 mg of niacin per day from the drinks. 

High doses of niacin can cause elevated liver enzymes and liver toxicity. Although this is typically thought to occur at daily doses over 500 mg, another case of acute hepatitis associated with energy drink consumption which provided 300 mg of niacin per day has been previously reported. (See the sections about Energy Drinks and Niacin in the B Vitamins Supplements Review for more information.)

The doctors also found that he had blood levels of folate and vitamin B-12 which "exceeded quantifiable limits." (See the Folate and B-12 sections of the B Vitamins Review for more about the risks associated with getting too much of these vitamins.)

The brand of the energy drink was not given in the report.

The researchers suggested "that patients with pre-existing hepatic disorders should use caution when consuming energy drinks containing niacin" and that health care providers ask patients with unexplained acute hepatitis about their energy drink intake. 

See's Review of B Vitamin Supplements and Energy Drinks for more information about the safety of energy drinks and tests of related products. 

See Related Warnings:

Consuming a Single Energy Drink May Increase Cardiovascular Risk

Energy Drink Recalled Due To Bacterial Contamination

Use of "Sports Drinks" and "Energy Drinks" Discouraged by Pediatric Group

To access the complete report, use the link below.