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Posted January 16, 2018

Adverse Effects From Energy Drinks Common Among Youth and Young Adults

More than half (55.4%) of young people who have ever consumed an energy drink have experienced at least one adverse reaction, according to study published yesterday in CMAJ Open, a journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

The research was conducted online among over 2,000 adolescents and young adults (age 12 - 24) in Canada. Most (73.8%) reported having ever consumed an energy drink, and, of these, 55.4% reported experiencing at least one adverse reaction. The most commonly reported reactions were rapid heartbeat (24.7%), difficulty sleeping (24.1%), headache (18.3%), nausea/vomiting/diarrhea (5.1%) and chest pain (3.6%). About 3% of respondents who suffered an adverse event had sought or considered seeking medical help for an adverse reaction.

The survey also found that those who reported having ever consumed an energy drink were almost three times more likely to report an adverse event than those who reported having ever consumed coffee.

According to the authors, "The current findings are consistent with those of Health Canada's Expert Panel on Caffeinated Energy Drinks, which concluded that, although the probability of serious adverse events is low, given the high volume of use, the risk of adverse events "is considered to be a public health issue."

Some energy drinks contain significantly more caffeine than found in a cup of coffee, and often include additional ingredients such as taurine, L-carnitine, and high amounts of B vitamins, such as niacin and vitamin B6.

As reported by, a 2015 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that drinking a single energy drink may increase cardiovascular risk, and the drinks have been associated with cases of hemorrhagic stroke, acute hepatitis and B6 toxicity. Concerningly, a 2017 study published in Journal of Medical Toxicology found children under the age of six accounted for almost 45% of energy product exposures reported to poison control centers in the U.S.

For more information about these and other concerns with energy drinks and shots, see the Energy Drinks and Shots section of the B Vitamins Supplement Review.

See Related Warnings:

Consuming a Single Energy Drink May Increase Cardiovascular Risk

Increase in Calls to Poison Control Centers About Supplements

Case of Hemorrhagic Stroke Linked to Redline Energy Drink

Energy Drink Linked to Case of Acute Hepatitis

Some Supplements May Cause or Exacerbate Heart Failure (Includes vitamin E and many herbs)

23,000 ER Visits Linked to Supplements: Palpitations, Swallowing Problems, Allergies Common

To read the full study in CMAJ Open, use the link below.