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The Caffeine Overdose in Energy Drinks

If you were wondering whether energy drinks were any safer than typical soft drinks, forget it. Energy drinks may contain as much as four times more caffeine than the average sugary sweet drink, according to a new study.

In fact, caffeine levels are so high, researchers believe American energy drinks should be labeled, just as they are in Europe for energy drinks, as high-caffeine products if they exceed 150 mg. per liter. Under that simple guideline, nearly all of the 10 products scientists analyzed would qualify.

Unfortunately, the FDA doesn't require soft drink manufacturers to list the caffeine content on labels, even though there's a standing rule that limits their content to 65 mg. per 12-ounce can. That said, all 19 soft drinks tested in this study contained less caffeine than the FDA standard, and, in some cases, far less than you'd think.

By comparison, most energy drinks contained 65 mg. of caffeine in an 8-ounce serving versus a Coca-Cola or Pepsi with less than half as much in a 12-ounce can. And, one energy drink contained 141 mg. of caffeine, two times more than a double-shot of expresso.

In a separate study, scientists also debunked another myth associated with energy drinks: Consuming them along with alcohol may make you feel more sober than you really are.

No question, energy drinks are no real substitute for eating the right foods, handling stress better and getting more sleep and exercise.

Journal of Analytical Toxicology, Vol. 30, No. 2, March 2006: 112-114

Yahoo News March 29, 2006

MSNBC March 28, 2006

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