Reporting Dr. Maria Simbra
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Health concerns about energy drinks were heightened this week with reports of five deaths possibly linked to Monster Energy Drinks.
Caffeine is one of the key ingredients in energy drinks, but it can be hard to tell how much they contain.
Consumer Reports recently tested dozens of top-selling drinks to find out.
Everyone from Tim Tebow, to 50 Cent and Joan Rivers are advertising them.
With their Facebook pages and Internet video campaigns, manufacturers specifically target young people.
However, Consumer Reports said you have to be careful how much caffeine you drink.
“It can quicken your pulse, cause abnormal heart rhythms, keep you from sleeping well and elevate your blood pressure,” Gayle Williams said.
Consumer Reports analyzed the caffeine content of 27 top-selling energy drinks and tested three samples each.
Although some list the amount of caffeine on the package, they’re not required to.
Consumer Reports found the numbers can be way off.
“Some of the energy drinks underestimated the amount of caffeine listed on the label by 20 percent or more,” Williams said.
So, how much caffeine do energy drinks contain?
In Consumer Reports’ tests, it varied widely.
For example, FRS Healthy Energy averaged 17 milligrams per container.
Red Bull and EK Street Kings Energy around 80 milligrams.
Five-Hour Energy had 215 milligrams and Five-Hour Energy Extra Strength had 242.
Most healthy adults can consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day.
“So for many people, an occasional energy drink is probably okay,” Williams said.
Or you can drink regular coffee.
An eight-ounce cup contains roughly 100 milligrams of caffeine.
Consumer and scientific groups have urged the FDA to require companies to disclose caffeine levels, but the agency said it lacks the authority to do so.
Many energy drinks do carry warnings that they are not for children, women who are pregnant or nursing, or people sensitive to caffeine.