Toxicity of high-caffeine “energy” drinks

March 28, 2012, 11:43 pm


Toxicity of Energy Drinks. Wolk BJ et al. Curr Opin Pediatr 2012 Apr;24:243-251.


The market for energy drinks in the United States has grown rapidly, with nearly 6 billion units consumed in 2010 — more than double the amount 5 years before. The primary active and potentially toxic ingredient in these products is caffeine, but other components such as pyridoxine and guarana might also be toxic in large doses.

This comprehensive review article is somewhat limited in that the clinical relevance of much of the discussion is not clear, based as it is on associations, case reports, and animal studies. However, the authors do provide a good summary of caffeine toxicity.

Effects of caffeine include:

  • Cardiovascular:  atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, tachcardia, hypertension
  • Neurologic: new-onset seizures
  • Psychiatric: anxiety, psychosis, sleep disturbance

There is at least a theoretical concern that pyridoxine contained in many of these products could cause peripheral sensory neuropathy.

Related posts:

Caffeinated energy drinks: do they cause significant acute toxicity?

Case series: intoxication from alcoholic “energy” drink

Energy drinks: pediatric effects

Fatal caffeine overdose

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