Happy Caffeine Awareness Month! Top 10 ways to improve your caffeine IQ

March is Caffeine Awareness Month, and what better way to celebrate than to revisit some of the most popular caffeine-related GreenEyedGuide posts! Remember that rebuttal to BroBible’s energy drink article or the open letter to Time magazine? How about the three tips for parents or the two Year-In-Review lists of all the “Energy Drink of the Month” winners? Do you remember what happens when energy drinks dress up like workout supplements?
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ONE – BroBible on Energy Drinks — All the Facts They Got Wrong

BroBible may be have expert insights on some matters, but their article on energy drinks proves biology and food science isn’t in their wheelhouse. Here’s the point-counterpoint to all the misleading statements in their article.

BroBible's misleading infographic on energy drink "science"
BroBible’s misleading infographic on energy drink “science”

TWO – Open Letter to Time regarding energy drink article in “The Answer Issue”

As a food scientist who’s studied energy drinks for over 10 years, Ms Sifferlin’s article came across as yet another “all energy drinks are lethal” story. While the article was missing many crucial facts, there were three points in particular that should be part of the conversation.

energy drink spread

THREE – Caffeine in Workout Supplements and the 5 Levels of Fatigue

This presentation covers the effects of caffeine when it’s consumed before, during, or after a workout. We also review how the Five Levels of Fatigue helps people determine which caffeine products (if any) are right for them.

FOUR – Energy Drinks and the ER — perspective

Energy drinks are in the news again, and this time the story is the reported increase in emergency room visits attributed to energy drinks. Are these stats more indicative of consumer misuse or that energy drinks are inherently more dangerous than other caffeinated beverages? Some clues to consider.

FIVE – Friends with the Monster? 3 Crucial Counterpoints to the Energy Drink Debate

As always, my goal is to educate and inform, to provide an alternate perspective to help people look past confusing scientific jargon and learn the tools to making the best choices for their lifestyle. Caffeine is not always the answer but to find the right answers we must ask the right questions.

SIX – Pop Quiz: Test your Caffeine IQ

Do you know the most common energy drink ingredient? (NO – IT’S NOT CAFFEINE!) Test your caffeine IQ with these 5 questions.


SEVEN – Kids and Energy Drinks — 3 Things Every Parent Should Know

How concerned do parents need to be about the use of energy drinks in kids and teens? In the Green-Eyed Guide guest blog on The Scientific Parent, we review the three major details often left out of these conversations on caffeine, and how these details can dramatically boost our efforts to keep ourselves and our kids healthy and safe.

Sci Parent

EIGHT – Caffeine Consumption in the USA

A study published in January 2014 involving over 40,000 people defines beverage caffeine intakes in the US, revealing the amounts of caffeine consumed and from what source per age group. As your Green-Eyed Guide, I’m going to explain what it all means.

Used with permission from Caffeine Informer. Source: Caffeine Safe Limits
Used with permission from Caffeine Informer. Source: Caffeine Safe Limits

NINE – Caffeine Consumption in the USA Part II: The Specifics

What can 42,000 people tell us about the caffeine habits of the US population? Plenty, if you look at the right details. Understanding this information is critical to any conversation about caffeine safety.

TEN – Putting Caffeine in Gum is a BAD IDEA, here’s why…

With new caffeinated foods popping up, the FDA is getting more pressure to reevaluate the safety of caffeine, particularly for adolescents. We evaluate the impact of caffeinated gum and why CANADA has the best caffeine regulations.



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Kids and Energy Drinks — Green-Eyed Guide on The Scientific Parent

How concerned do parents need to be about the use of energy drinks in kids and teens? In the Green-Eyed Guide guest blog on The Scientific Parent, we review the three major details often left out of these conversations on caffeine, and how these details can dramatically boost our efforts to keep ourselves and our kids healthy and safe.

Sci Parent
Source: http://thescientificparent.org/kids-and-energy-drinks-3-things-every-parent-should-know/

Open letter to Time regarding energy drink article in “The Answer Issue”

Greetings Ms Nancy Gibbs and Time Staff,

Normally, I find Time Magazine articles engaging and insightful but the article “Energy drinks have doctors worried—but business is booming” by Ms. Alexandra Sifferlin was severely disappointing.

Did you know that the top-selling energy drink has less caffeine and less sugar per serving than a tall mocha from Starbucks? The Issue Contents page features the question, “Should your kid drink Red Bull”, but Original Red Bull has 80 mg caffeine, 27 g sugar in 8.46 fl oz can versus the 90 mg caffeine, 35 g sugar in tall (12 oz) cafe mocha. This is not to say Red Bull is without its hazards. In fact, the biggest hazard with Red Bull is the alarming frequency with which this drink is mixed with alcohol! Unfortunately the dangerous combination of alcohol and energy drinks was completely omitted from this article. Read more

Why You Could Get Carded for Buying a V8 – GreenEyedGuide On Energy Drink Bans

[Updated to include links to (failed) energy drink bans…a running list]

The American Medical Association has come out in support of a ban on energy drink sales to those under age 18. While many people agree that minors and adolescents are more sensitive to caffeine than adults, many others are disappointed that AMA’s actions imply turning 19 means your body becomes invincible to caffeine toxicity, or worse, that ALL SO-CALLED ENERGY DRINKS ARE THE SAME.

“Energy drinks contain massive and excessive amounts of caffeine that may lead to a host of health problems in young people, including heart problems, and banning companies from marketing these products to adolescents is a common sense action that we can take to protect the health of American kids,” said AMA board member Alexander Ding, MD.

–Read the AMA release here:
AMA Adopts New Policies on Second Day of Voting at Annual Meeting

True, the AMA is proposing a ban on marketing to minors, which is different than banning the sale of energy drinks to minors. Yet a close look at Dr. Ding’s language in the quote above betrays the intent to keep minors from consuming these drinks at all. That would certainly make Senators Dick Durban and Richard Blumenthal happy*. It’s easy to agree with a ban on marketing to minors, but prohibiting the sale all together is one step too far considering the implications and complications that would ensue.

*See “Which comes first: supplement safety laws or the power to enforce them? The Durbin-Blumenthal Dietary Supplement Labeling Act” by GreenEyedGuide

While the AMA’s position is not legally binding, their opinions do carry some weight in Washington. The FDA is currently reviewing the dangers and consumption practices of energy drinks among minors, but their findings will not carry any weight unless the following single step takes place: RE-DEFINE OR RECLASSIFY THE TERM “ENERGY DRINK”!

Heath Canada was ahead of the curve when they did this reclassification, basically saying, “We don’t care if your product is technically a ‘Natural Health Product’ or a ‘stimulant-containing drink’ or whatever else, but if the product has caffeine it is hereby and henceforth called a food, and you’re not allowed to add more than 180 milligrams of caffeine to an 8-ounce product or 400 milligrams caffeine per liter.”

Boom. Done. Problem solved.  

Ode to Health Canada: Capping and Reclassifying Caffeine

In the US, the term “energy drink” is misleading because a caffeinated product might be labeled a food/beverage or as a supplement – each category has different regulations to abide by.  This Nutrition Business Journal article from New Hope 360 explains why Health Canada’s move was so effective and brilliant:

Still, the rules are nothing to sneeze at. Not only do they put strict control over manufacturing and labeling, but they also clear up nomenclature issues by putting energy drinks under one clear designation as food. In the United States, on the other hand, energy drinks can either be labeled as a food—in the case of Red Bull—or a dietary supplement—in the case of Monster and 5-Hour Energy. These crisscrossing definitions impede blanket action.  — NewHope360

If the FDA would just take a page from Health Canada’s playbook and reclassify all caffeinated products as food/beverages, it would be easier to issue a caffeine limit per serving. That would protect everyone, not just those under age 18. Instead of telling kids energy drinks are “forbidden” (because minors LOVE it when you tell them they’re not allowed to do something), how about first reclassify anything and everything with caffeine in it as a food/beverage product, then cap the amount of caffeine “from all sources” to 180 milligrams, like Health Canada? Boom. Done.

Banning all “energy drinks” sales to minors is a poor attempt at fixing the real problem of caffeine toxicity: Why? Because BOTH V8 V-Fusion Energy and Red Bull are “energy drinks” and both contain 80 milligrams of caffeine:



Caffeine in Red Bull [Caffeine Informer]

Are all “energy drinks” dangerous? No – the caffeine in them can be (at certain amounts). Let’s focus on the REAL issue, shall we? Let’s focus on caffeine content, and the dangerous mixture of caffeine and alcohol.

Energy Drink Bans

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