10 Things No One is Telling You About Energy Drinks

Let’s play a game. If I say “energy drink,” what comes to mind? Extreme sports athletes? Teenagers in the hospital? Green tea? News outlets often portray energy drinks as dangerous concoctions of sugar and caffeine but this isn’t the whole picture. While some energy drinks are loaded with sugar and caffeine, the truth is there were over 200 different energy drink brands in the US as of 2009, and some of those are more like green tea than the sugary caffeine-loaded product portrayed. Since many popular energy drink ingredients are also popular in fitness/health supplements, it’s time to consider the energy drink facts no one is telling you.

As published on FitFluential.com

1. Vitamin B12 is the most common energy drink ingredient.

Vitamin B6 is second; caffeine is third. This is why an energy drink ban sounds good on paper but would be difficult to carry out.

According to the Innova Market Insights’ Database, these five energy drink ingredients are the most common. The chart shows the percentage of new energy products in which each ingredient is found. [Source: https://www.caffeineinformer.com/energy-drink-ingredients]

2. Vitamins don’t give you energy.

They have zero calories, and a calorie is a measurement of energy. Taking vitamin B12, the most common energy drink ingredient, will not give you an energy boost unless you’re A) deficient or B) susceptible to the Placebo Effect. A deficiency in vitamin B12 would zap you of energy since this vitamin helps with DNA synthesis. When cells don’t have enough DNA to divide properly, they become large immature cells. This affects the cell’s ability to carry oxygen, leading to anemia.


3. Vitamin B5 is the most pointless vitamin to add to a product.

Vitamin B5 is pantothenic acid, and in Greek, “pantothen” means “widespread” or “from every side”. Milk, meat, and vegetables are all sources of pantothenic acid so unless you live entirely off fish and fruit, you’re probably getting more than enough vitamin B5.


4. The three top-selling energy drink brands have less caffeine per 16 ounces than the same size coffee from Starbucks.

Caffeine Content per 16 ounces:

  • Red Bull – 154 mg;
  • Monster – 160 mg caffeine;
  • Rockstar – 160 mg (most flavors), 240 mg (some flavors),
  • Starbucks brewed coffee – 330 mg.


5. A Canadian 13-year old is allowed to have up to 400 mg caffeine per day, but an American 13-year old may only have up to 100 mg.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a caffeine limit of 100 mg per day for those under 18. Health Canada recommends a limit of 60 mg for 7-9-year-olds, 85 mg for 10-12-year-olds, and 400 mg for 13 and up (400 mg is the max dosage considered safe in the US and Canada).


6. Carbonation, dehydration, and speed of consumption all impact the effects of caffeine on the body.

For example, carbonation irritates the stomach, which speeds up caffeine absorption through the stomach lining.


7. Minors consume more caffeine from carbonated soft drinks and tea than from energy drinks.

Specifically, 69% of all 6-12-year-olds who consume caffeine consume carbonated soft drinks at 21 mg per day on average, and less than 10% of this age group gets their caffeine from energy drinks.


8. V8 makes an energy drink.

V8 V-Fusion + Energy has the same amount of caffeine as Red Bull (80 mg in 8 ounces). Again, this little detail makes an energy drink ban tricky.


9. The amount of caffeine Americans drink per day has not increased since 1999.

A ten-year study found no increase in the percentage of the population consuming caffeine on a daily basis and no increase in the mean caffeine intake among children and adolescents from 1999-2009. This study found that adolescents are drinking more energy drinks now than they were in 1999, but this is no surprise as Monster and Rockstar weren’t invented until three years later.


10. There are 5 Levels of Fatigue, and Level 1 is boredom/dehydration.

Sometimes water is the best solution for fatigue; sometimes sleep is the only salvation, and for all the times in-between, there are specific tricks and tips to identifying the right product for the situation. Understanding these levels and using the level-specific guidelines can help anyone wean their caffeine intake and avoid caffeine overuse and dependency.



Book Cover (1)


To learn how to use the 5 Levels of Fatigue, how to decipher a label in 10 seconds, how to spot the 6 supplement Red Flags, and how the 20 most popular energy drink ingredients work (or don’t work), check out Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks – How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely (available through Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Booklocker.com and more).


Compr. Rev. Food Sci. Food Safety 2010;9:303–317.
Innova Market Insights’ Database
Food Chem. Toxicol 2014;63:136-142
Pediatrics 2014;133:386-393

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