You’ve probably seen this story on CNN and other outlets. There are some additional details I want to add based on the 10 years I put into researching energy drinks and their ingredients. In the CNN article, I do understand why it’s mentioned this man had excessive folate and vitamin B12 levels, and yet the blame for the liver problems went not to B12 nor folate, but exclusively to niacin. Excessive folate masks B12 deficiency; excessive B12 doesn’t have documented symptoms, and excessive niacin HAS in fact caused liver damage. Liver damage may occur at 1.5 GRAMS (1500 mg). However, the man in this story reportedly only consumed 5 cans with 40 mg niacin each, or 200 mg niacin total. That doesn’t seem like enough to hit toxicity levels. Another thing to consider is how Niacin Flush occurs at 30 mg; if someone was consuming an excess of niacin, usually they’d feel it.
I’m always aggravated when “energy drinks” are treated all the same. Have you see the “energy drinks in disguise” I’ve been talking about here on this blog? Do you even realize how different the New Age of energy drinks more closely resembles “functional beverages” than the energy drink stereotype. But I get it — some stereotypes are just too persistent.
In that case, what aggravates me most of all in this particular story is how the caffeine content is curiously missing from the details collected or any of the blame assigned/implicated in this piece. It’s aggrivating to me when a news story casually implies energy drinks have caused a medical condition, and yet the details of that energy drink are missing. What OTHER ingredients were in there? Any EGCG? How much caffeine? How much sugar?
This is important because there are some really critical details missing from the news stories, and yet they’re not wrong. It’s TRUE that TOO MUCH Niacin can hurt your liver. But HOW MUCH is TOO MUCH? (1.5 GRAMS) That’s what is missing from these news stories. That’s what I want to share with all of you. There’s no need for panic, but there IS a need to be more informed.
Reference used for the vitamin information – Are You A Monster Or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks http://amzn.to/2bjHRbk
Related content: Niacin Sample Chapter from my book “Are You a Monster or a Rock Star: A Guide to Energy Drinks — How They Work, Why They Work, How to Use Them Safely”
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