5 Hour Energy ingredients offer more than boost

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) Most people would love to get a quick burst of energy during their day, but turning to energy drinks on the market today can cause symptoms that many people don't want.

"You're just really shaky and you can't control it. Your heart pounds really fast sometimes," Nicole Melick, a college student, says about the drink's affects.

Melick's friend, Alisa Smith agrees. "You get a little sweaty, and, it's weird."

It's not just the afternoon slump these teens are trying to work through, either.  Melick, Smith and their friends agree some people drink too many a day.

"It's crazy how a little shot can give you that much of a boost," says Jacob Dewey, who admits to regularly consuming energy drinks.

WMBF News sifted through some research that tested the effects of energy drinks on healthy, young adults. The goal of the study was to look at how these drinks affect cardiovascular health.

"They had them drink two cans with about 160 mg of caffeine in them," Dr. Ray Holt, who practices family medicine, says he's also carefully gone over the study. "Then they measured heart rate and blood pressure a half hour and one, two, three and four hours afterward."

Dr. Holt says the study results were interesting.  Researchers found blood pressure went up nearly 10 percent in some people and heart rate increased more than 11 percent, that's seven more beats per minute.  Researchers didn't find any major complications but these results could be a red flag for some people.

"If it's a young child, [this is] way too much caffeine," says Dr. Holt.  "If it's an older adult or someone with medical problems, like hypertension, heart disease, stroke, seizures, it can really cause some medical harm."

According to Mayo Clinic research, the average amount of caffeine in an 8 oz. cup of brewed coffee can range anywhere from 100-200 mg. Compare that to 2 oz. of 5 Hour Energy, which they estimate to have 207 mg, and you have a caffeine shot Dr. Holt says could be a recipe for disaster.

"For an adult, the cap on caffeine is about 300 mg a day. For  a young adult, it's about 100 mg a day. For a child, even less than that," he explains.

"It's so weird cause it's such a little amount of it, but it makes you stay up for hours," Melick says about the popular 5 Hour Energy shot.

Her friends agree, 5 Hour Energy is usually too much caffeine.

"It says '5 Hour Energy', meanwhile it feels like it's going on forever and ever and ever. Fifteen hour energy!" Smith adds.

Instead, they regularly buy popular brands, like Monster and Red Bull, and say the drinks are hard to avoid because the companies target their age group like a bulls eye.

"They have pretty neat descriptions on the back of the can that makes you really get reeled into it, and the can looks really cool," Smith says.

Reading from the label, she shares what entices her to make the purchase. "Our friends at the Rehab pool party in Vegas know all about recovering from a long night…"

But the same label that attracts these teens to the energy drinks has information they don't want to see.

"Mine has a lot of funky words; it makes you wonder what you are drinking," Smith admits.

"I don't know any of these to be honest," Melick says, looking at the ingredients list. "I know they've done studies on how bad soda is for you so I can imagine how bad these are for you."

For now, consumers will have to do their own homework to figure out what exactly is in the can, or shot, of energy.

"The industry is not regulated; these energy drinks are considered a food supplement, so they're kind of out of the guise of the FDA as far as regulation," Dr. Holt says.

The group of friends we spoke too aren't worried about long-term effects, they say energy drinks are just a phase in their busy lives.

"I'm in college. I'm all over the place with my sleeping; it's never steady sleep," Melick says.  "I think my sleeping habits will get better once I get older."

For now, with no FDA regulations and an apparently strong advertising technique, it seems these drinks are in no way sizzling out soon.

Copyright 2012 WMBF News. All rights reserved.