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Energy Drinks

Thanks, Logan Paul for creating this Prime drink and marketing it to kids who don’t know that it’s not safe for them. We have been noticing an uptick in students bringing various energy drinks to school and we are worried.

They make them in flashy cans and bottles, with awesome flavors like cotton candy or jolly rancher, they advertise them on TikTok and with influencers who are targeting younger people and kids. Most of them are marketed as “safe” because they “just have vitamins” in them but what many don’t realize is that the “natural” ingredients might be just as dangerous as the chemical ingredients, especially for kids.

Most energy drinks are NOT regulated by the FDA because they are marketed as “dietary supplement” and not “food”. They tend to have excessive amounts of caffeine and other chemicals in them. Because they are not regulated by the FDA the manufacturer does not have to print the breakdown of these ingredients on the labels. 

These ingredients can cause heart palpitations, anxiety, panic attacks, headaches, high blood pressure, behavior changes, kidney damage, liver damage, and even lead to stroke, heart attack or cardiac arrest. Everyone is at risk of these effects but children have a higher risk of negative health effects due to their immature developing bodies and brains. 

Ingredients in most energy drinks: 

  • Caffeine: According to the FDA, soda manufacturers cannot have more than 71 mg of caffeine per 12‐ounces; currently there is no regulation for caffeine content in energy drinks. Many “energy drinks” do not state their caffeine content; some have as much caffeine as 14 cans of soda!!!
  • Sugar: the same thing as sucrose, glucose, fructose, corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup. Sugar is known to give an instant boost but after very little time will cause a crash in both energy and alertness. Additionally, sugar has 4 calories per gram, a 8.3 ounce Red Bull has 27 grams of sugar; that’s 108 non‐nutritional calories!  
  • Guarana: a South American plant that produces seeds with 4‐5% caffeine content, while a coffee bean has the caffeine content of 1‐2%. Guarana in a 16‐ounce energy drink ranges from 1.4 mg to as much as 300 mg. It is unclear how much guarana is in each drink because many companies do not list a milligram amount. The safety of guarana in higher levels remains unknown, but these high levels could be easily achieved by consuming multiple drinks 
  • Ginseng: an extract made from the root of the ginseng plant.  Ginseng may increase brain power but since ginseng is not regulated by the FDA it is difficult to know what else you may be getting in your drink!  The amount of ginseng in most drinks is minimal and therefore harmful effects are unlikely, but check with your doctor first if you are taking any medications. 
  • Taurine: one of the most abundant amino acids in the brain, which can act as a neurotransmitter, a chemical messenger that allows cells to communicate with one another.  Most energy drinks have anywhere from 20 mg up to 2,000 mg of taurine in a 16‐ounce beverage.  When taurine is dumped into the bloodstream, via consuming an energy drink, it cannot pass through the membranes that protect the brain.  But even if it could, scientists believe taurine would behave more like a sedative than a stimulant.  Taurine is likely safe in small doses, but currently there is little research on taurine consumption in humans.
  • L-Isoleucine: Side effects may include fatigue, nausea and muscle incoordination. Several groups of people should talk to their doctors before taking BCAAs: Pregnant or breastfeeding women. 
  • L-Leucine: Very high doses of leucine may cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). It may also cause pellagra. Symptoms of this can include skin lesions, hair loss, and gastrointestinal problems. People who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn’t use leucine supplements. 
  • L-Valine: L-valine is a natural substance that is necessary for our health. As such, it generally does not have any side effects. However, taking large quantities of L-valine can cause fatigue, nausea, and a lack of muscle coordination. Extremely high doses of L-valine can be dangerous. 
  • D-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E): a vitamin that is not specifically dangerous.
  • Retinyl Palmitate (Vitamin a): Another vitamin that is not specifically dangerous.
  • Zinc Aspartate : an amino acid, often taken as a supplement. Zinc supplementation up to the tolerable upper intake level is generally considered safe. High doses are sometimes used in children with moderate to severe deficiencies or in acute cases of diarrhea. In these instances, the high doses should be limited to a short period of time (10-14 days) in order to prevent gastrointestinal distress, copper deficiency, anemia, or genitourinary complications.
  • Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B-6): Another vitamin that we do need, B vitamins can increase energy and often the purpose of the combination of B vitamins in products is to increase energy. High doses of vitamin B6 may be harmful to your child’s health depending on how much they consume. The side effects of excess vitamin B6 include: Nerve damage showing up as numbness. Nausea and heartburn.
  • Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B-12): Vitamin B12 deficiency can have distressing neuropsychiatric symptoms. It can have an etiological role in clinical presentations like depression, anxiety, psychosis, dementia, and delirium, requiring screening of at-risk populations. B-12 supplementation can improve energy and mood. Often the purpose of the combination of B vitamins in products is to increase energy.

Some of these ingredients are in fact vitamins and ones that we need to have, however, consuming them in the quantities that are in these energy drinks can be extremely dangerous, especially to younger people. 

Some examples of the energy drinks that kids might try:

Red Bull




Prime Energy AND Prime Hydration

5-hour energy



Prime Hydration is a sports drink, not an energy drink and does not have caffeine but it does contain something called BCAA’s which stands for branch chain amino acids (L-Isoleucine, L-Leucine, L-Valine) which are not really studied as to the effects on children but they are known to potentially cause fatigue, nausea, muscle discoordination, and decreased liver and kidney function. It also contains fake sweeteners like Aspartame and Sucralose that can lead to diabetes due to the way it is metabolized plus also lead to inflammatory illness such as arthritis, joint pain and degenerative joint disease. Not to mention that it contains coconut water which is likely to trigger a tree nut allergy which is something I think a lot of kids don’t realize.

Prime Hydration actually has a warning label on the bottles manufactured for Canada stating that people under 15 years old should not consume it. The US bottles do not bear this warning due to different FDA regulations in the US versus regulations in other countries (US is allowed to have a LOT more leeway for ingredients than many other countries but that’s another post).

The bottom line is that children (and adults) should NOT consume energy drinks due to the very dangerous side effects they could experience. Parents should be monitoring what their children are consuming and checking labels if they aren’t familiar with the product. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid these and consult with their doctor about the safety of the hydration drinks.

Published by Emme Mauer M.Ed., BSN, RN, CSN

Mom to two preemies, anxiety sufferer, postpartum depression survivor, and school nurse extraordinaire.

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