A Closer Look: Energy Drinks

“Go Full Throttle, or go home,” says the slogan.

Part of Full Throttle’s ignition, as with most “energy” drinks sold at truck stops, comes from caffeine. Competing drinks often share other ingredients, such as taurine and Vitamin B.

A 16-ounce can of Coca-Cola’s popular Full Throttle (www.fullthrottleenergy.com) includes:

144 milligrams (mg) of caffeine
Being a central nervous system stimulant, caffeine can cause anxiety, irritability, restlessness and insomnia. Doctors recommend daily intake of no more than 600 mg. By comparison, eight ounces of coffee contains about 95 mg of caffeine.

1,210 mg of taurine
Taurine was first isolated from bull bile in 1827, and it’s popular today in energy drinks because it suggests to manly men that they’re running with the bulls. In fact, while taurine performs some useful body functions, there is no scientific evidence that it boosts your energy.

1.4 mg of guarana extract
Guarana is an Amazonian fruit with a caffeine concentration five times that of a coffee bean. Indeed, South Americans get most of their caffeine from guarana. Amazon tribes believe the first guarana plant sprang from a dead child’s eyeball that was planted by a god.

166 mg of sodium
This is about 6 percent of an adult’s daily intake need. By comparison, a dash of salt contains 155 mg of sodium.

180 mg of ginseng extract
No scientific evidence supports the belief, but for centuries practitioners of folk medicine – especially in China – have valued ginseng root as an aphrodisiac. Long a cash crop for hand-to-mouth Appalachian farmers, wild “sang” has practically vanished from the Eastern mountains thanks to generations of overharvesting.

40 mg of Vitamin B3
“Niacin,” another name for B3, was coined as more marketable than the nutrient’s original name, which was nicotine acid. Yes, niacin is only a much more useful chemical analogue of nicotine. Your recommended daily amount of niacin is 16 mg. More can cause niacin flush, an itchy reddening of the skin that’s easily treated by chasing your Full Throttle with a couple of glasses of water.

40 mg of Vitamin B6
Men need only 1.3 mg of B6 a day, so a can of Full Throttle contains about a month’s worth.

20 mg of Vitamin B12
This vitamin, produced only by bacteria, also is known as cobalamin because it contains the metal cobalt. The recommended daily allowance is only 2.4 micrograms. That means a can of Full Throttle contains more than 28 years’ worth of B12.

58 grams of carbohydrates, all sugar
How much sugar does your body need per day? None. A sugar-free diet would be perfectly healthy.