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Energy drink

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Energy drink
A variety of energy drinks in a German supermarket shelf
TypeFunctional beverage
Country of origin Japan
Introduced20th century
IngredientsUsually caffeine, various others

An energy drink is a type of functional beverage containing stimulant compounds, usually caffeine, which is marketed as providing mental and physical stimulation (marketed as "energy", but distinct from food energy). They may or may not be carbonated and may also contain sugar, other sweeteners, or herbal extracts, among numerous other possible ingredients.

They are a subset of the larger group of energy products, which includes bars and gels, and distinct from sports drinks, which are advertised to enhance sports performance. There are many brands and varieties in this drink category.[1][2]

Energy drinks have the effects of caffeine and sugar, but there is little or no evidence that the wide variety of other ingredients have any effect.[3] Most effects of energy drinks on cognitive performance, such as increased attention and reaction speed, are primarily due to the presence of caffeine.[4] Other studies ascribe those performance improvements to the effects of the combined ingredients.[5]

Advertising for energy drinks usually features increased muscle strength and endurance, but there is no scientific consensus to support these claims.[6] Energy drinks have been associated with many health risks, such as an increased rate of injury when usage is combined with alcohol, and excessive or repeated consumption can lead to cardiac and psychiatric conditions.[7][8] Populations at risk for complications from energy drink consumption include youth, caffeine-naïve or caffeine-sensitive, pregnant, competitive athletes and people with underlying cardiovascular disease.[9]

Ingredients and uses


Energy drinks are usually marketed to young people and provide the health effects of caffeine.[10] Health experts agree that energy drinks which contain caffeine do improve alertness.[10]

There is no reliable evidence that other ingredients in energy drinks provide further benefits, even though the drinks are frequently advertised in a way that suggests they have unique benefits.[10][11] The dietary supplements in energy drinks may be purported to supply benefits, such as for vitamin B12,[10][12] but no claims of using supplements to enhance health in otherwise normal people have been verified scientifically.

Marketing of energy drinks has been particularly directed towards teenagers, with manufacturers sponsoring or advertising at extreme sports events and music concerts, and targeting a youthful audience through social media channels.[13]


A can of Red Bull, the most popular energy drink worldwide as of 2020
A health warning on a can of the Austrian Power Horse energy drink: "Consumption of more than two cans in a day may be harmful to your health. Not to be used for pregnant women, breast feeders, children under the age of 16, people with heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, allergy to caffeine, and athletes during exercise."
A health warning on a can of the Austrian Power Horse energy drink

Energy drinks have the effects caffeine and sugar provide, but there is little or no evidence that the wide variety of other ingredients have any effect.[3] Most of the effects of energy drinks on cognitive performance, such as increased attention and reaction speed, are primarily due to the presence of caffeine.[4] Advertising for energy drinks usually features increased muscle strength and endurance, but there is little evidence to support this in the scientific literature.[6]

According to the Mayo Clinic, it is safe for the typical healthy adult to consume a total of 400 mg of caffeine a day. This has been confirmed by a panel of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which also concludes that a caffeine intake of up to 400 mg per day does not raise safety concerns for adults. According to the EFSA this is equivalent to 4 cups of coffee (90 mg each) or 2 1/2 standard cans (250 ml) of energy drink (160 mg each/80 mg per serving).[14][15] Adverse effects associated with caffeine consumption in amounts greater than 400 mg include nervousness, irritability, sleeplessness, increased urination, abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmia), and dyspepsia. Caffeine dosage is not required to be on the product label for food in the United States, unlike drugs, but most (although not all) place the caffeine content of their drinks on the label anyway, and some advocates are urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to change this practice.[16][17]

Health problems


Excessive consumption of energy drinks can have serious health effects resulting from high caffeine and sugar intakes, particularly in children, teens, and young adults.[18][19] Excessive energy drink consumption may disrupt teens' sleep patterns and may be associated with increased risk-taking behavior.[18] Excessive or repeated consumption of energy drinks can lead to cardiac problems, such as arrhythmias and heart attacks, and psychiatric conditions such as anxiety and phobias.[7][8][18] The consumption of caffeinated energy drinks has been associated with adverse effects on cardiovascular health, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, which can pose risks for individuals with underlying heart conditions.[20] In Europe, energy drinks containing sugar and caffeine have been associated with the deaths of athletes.[21] Reviews have noted that caffeine content was not the only factor, and that the cocktail of other ingredients in energy drinks made them more dangerous than drinks whose only stimulant was caffeine; the studies noted that more research and government regulation were needed.[18][22]

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children not consume caffeinated energy drinks.[23]



Dr. Enuf, an "energy building"[24] soft drink containing caffeine and B vitamins, was created in the United States in 1949.[25][26] The New York Times states that "the energy drink, as we know it", however, was born in post World War II Japan.[26] In 1962, Taisho pharmaceuticals produced Lipovitan D, an herbal “energizing tonic” that was sold in minibar-sized bottles. The tonic was originally marketed towards truck drivers and factory workers who needed to stay awake for long shifts. However, in Japan, most of the products of this kind bear little resemblance to soft drinks, and are sold instead in small brown glass medicine bottles, or cans styled to resemble such containers. These eiyō dorinku (literally, 'nutritional drinks') are marketed primarily to salarymen. Bacchus-F, a South Korean drink closely modeled after Lipovitan, also appeared in the early 1960s and targets a similar demographic.[citation needed]

In Europe, Dietrich Mateschitz, an Austrian entrepreneur, introduced the Red Bull product, a worldwide bestseller in the 21st century. Mateschitz developed Red Bull based on the Thai drink Krating Daeng, itself based on Lipovitan. Red Bull became the dominant brand in the US after its introduction in 1997, with a market share of approximately 47% in 2005.[27]

In New Zealand and Australia, the leading energy drink product in those markets, V, was introduced by Frucor Beverages. The product now represents over 60% of market in New Zealand and Australia.[28]

In 2002, Hansen Natural Company introduced the energy drink Monster Energy.[29] Hansen Natural Company changed their name to Monster Beverage Corporation after an agreement by shareholders to change the name after Monster Energy became the largest source of revenue.[30] The company's previous beverages were taken ownership of by the Coca-Cola Company.[31]

The energy shot product, an offshoot of the energy drink, was launched in the US with products such as 5-Hour Energy, which was first released onto the market in 2004. A consumer health analyst explained in a March 2014 media article: "Energy shots took off because of energy drinks. If you’re a white collar worker, you’re not necessarily willing to down a big Monster energy drink, but you may drink an energy shot."[32][33]

In 2007, energy drink powders and effervescent tablets were introduced, whereby either can be added to water to create an energy drink.[34]

On 14 August 2012, the word energy drink was listed for the first time in the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary.[35]



By concentration


Energy shots


Energy shots are a specialized kind of energy drink. Whereas most energy drinks are sold in cans or bottles, energy shots are usually sold in smaller 50ml bottles.[36] Energy shots can contain the same total amount of caffeine, vitamins or other functional ingredients as their larger versions, and may be considered concentrated forms of energy drinks. The marketing of energy shots generally focuses on their convenience and availability as a low-calorie "instant" energy drink that can be taken in one swallow (or "shot"), as opposed to energy drinks that encourage users to drink an entire can, which may contain 250 calories or more.[37] A common energy shot is 5-hour Energy which contains B vitamins and caffeine in an amount similar to a cup of coffee.[38]

By ingredient


Caffeinated alcoholic drink


Energy drinks such as Red Bull are often used as mixers with alcoholic drinks, producing mixed drinks such as Vodka Red Bull which are similar to but stronger than rum and coke with respect to the amount of caffeine that they contain.[39] Sometimes this is configured as a bomb shot, such as the Jägerbomb or the F-BombFireball Cinnamon Whisky and Red Bull.[40]

Caffeinated alcoholic drinks are also sold in some countries in a wide variety of formulations. The American products Four Loko and Joose originally combined caffeine and alcohol before caffeinated alcoholic drinks were banned in the U.S. in 2010.[41][42][43]


A nutrition facts label for an energy drink

Energy drinks generally contain methylxanthines (including caffeine), B vitamins, carbonated water, and high-fructose corn syrup or sugar (for non-diet versions). Other common ingredients are guarana, yerba mate, açaí, and taurine, plus various forms of ginseng, maltodextrin, inositol, carnitine, creatine, glucuronolactone, sucralose or ginkgo biloba.[10]

In the United States, the caffeine content of energy drinks is in the range of 40 to 250 mg per 8 fluid ounce (237 ml) serving.[44] The FDA recommends that 400 mg per day is safe for adults, while 1200 mg per day can be toxic.[44]



Globally, energy drinks are typically attractive to youths and young adults.[45]

A Red Bull distribution truck

In 2017, global energy drink sales were about 44 billion euros.[46] In 2017, manufacturers were modifying the composition of energy drinks for reduced or no sugar content and lower calories, caffeine content, "clean" labels to reflect the use of organic ingredients, exotic flavors, and ingredients that may affect mood.[46]



Some countries have certain restrictions on the sale and manufacture of energy drinks. A ban was challenged in the European Court of Justice in 2004 and consequently lifted.[47]

Australia and New Zealand

Prime energy drinks being sold a store in Sydney. A sign posted informs that the store restricts the sale of the drink to those under the age of 18 (the age of majority in Australia) and limits customers and groups to a maximum of six cans each.

In Australia and New Zealand, energy drinks are regulated under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code; limiting the caffeine content of 'formulated caffeinated beverages' (energy drinks) at 320 mg/L (9.46 mg/oz) and soft-drinks at 145 mg/L (4.29 mg/oz). Mandatory caffeine labeling is issued for all food products containing guarana in the country,[48] and Australian energy drink labels warn consumers to drink no more than two cans per day.[49] Bridgetown in Western Australia became the first place in Australia to ban the sale of energy drinks to persons under 18 years for four months as of February 2023.[50]



In 2009 under the Ministry of Social Protection, Colombia prohibited the sale and commercialization of energy drinks to minors under the age of 14.[51]



In 1997, Denmark banned the sale of Red Bull. The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration criticized the functional beverages' added ingredients such as B vitamins, inositol, glucuronolactone, and taurine. It argued that nutritional supplements should be added to foods only when necessary for public health, such as in the case of iodised salt. High caffeine content was also stated as an issue – only amounts up to 150 mg/L were allowed in beverages; in 2009 the limit was raised to 320 mg/L and taurine and glucuronolactone were approved as ingredients, making energy drinks legal.[52][53] As of 2024, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration advises against energy drink consumption for children; with only limited consumption of energy drinks (250 mL (8.5 U.S. fl oz) per day, assuming no other caffeine intake) for children between 15 and 17 years old.[54]



In June 2016, Latvia banned the sale of energy drinks containing caffeine or stimulants like taurine and guarana to people under the age of 18.[55]



In November 2014, Lithuania became the first country in the EU to ban the selling of energy drinks to anyone under the age of 18. The Baltic state placed the ban in reaction to research showing how popular energy drinks were among minors. According to the AFP reports roughly 10% of school-aged Lithuanians say they consume energy drinks at least once a week.[56]



Norway did not allow Red Bull for a time due to the high caffeine and taurine content. Classified as a drug, only limited amounts were allowed to be imported for personal use. In May 2009, it became legal to sell in Norway as the ban was in conflict with the European Economic Area's laws on free competition. The Norwegian version has reduced levels of vitamin B6.[57][58] The Norwegian Food Safety Authority initially recommended an age limit on the sale of energy drinks in 2019. In 2024 the Norwegian Consumer Council called for an age limit after seeing energy drink sales increase dramatically since 2019. The Food Safety Authority, as of 2024, now disagrees with an age limit as it states it is hard to ascertain if children, specifically, are drinking more energy drinks.[59][60] A majority of Norwegians support an age limit on energy drink purchases.[61]



Since 1 January 2024, energy drinks have been banned for individuals under the age of 18.[62]



In November 2012, President Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya (Russian Federation) ordered his government to develop a bill banning the sale of energy drinks, arguing that as a form of "intoxicating drug", such drinks were "unacceptable in a Muslim society". Kadyrov cited reports of one death and 530 hospital admissions in 2012 due to "poisoning" from the consumption of such drinks. A similar view was expressed by Gennady Onishchenko, Chief Sanitary Inspector of Russia.[63]

United Kingdom


In 2001, the UK Committee on Toxicity investigated Red Bull, finding it safe but issuing a warning against its consumption by children and pregnant women.[47]

In 2009, a school in Hove, England, requested that local shops refrain from selling energy drinks to students. Headteacher Falklanda Sanders added that "This was a preventative measure, as all research shows that consuming high-energy drinks can have a detrimental impact on the ability of young people to concentrate in class." The school negotiated for their local branch of the Tesco supermarket to display posters asking students not to purchase the products.[64] Similar measures were taken by a school in Oxted, England, which banned students from consuming drinks and sent letters to parents.

While not yet age-restricted by legislation, all major UK supermarkets have agreed to voluntarily stop the sale of energy drinks to under-16s.[65] The UK government plans to end the sale of energy drinks to under-16s in the future.[66]

In January 2018, many United Kingdom supermarkets banned the sale of energy drinks containing more than 150 mg of caffeine per liter to people under 16 years old;[67] this was followed by the UK government announcing that it planned to ban all sales of energy drinks to minors in 2019.[68] However, in 2022 such plans were reported to have been scrapped by Health Secretary Sajid Javid.[69]

United States


As of 2013 in the United States, some energy drinks, including Monster Energy and Rockstar Energy, were reported to be rebranding their products as drinks rather than as dietary supplements. As drinks they would be relieved of FDA reporting requirements with respect to deaths and injuries and can be purchased with food stamps, but must list ingredients on the can.[70]

Some places ban the sale of prepackaged caffeinated alcoholic drinks, which can be described as energy drinks containing alcohol. In response to these bans, the marketers can change the formula of their products.[71]



In January 2019, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan signed a law that imposes a number of restrictions on energy drinks. To protect the younger generation, a rule was introduced prohibiting the sale of energy drinks to persons under the age of 18. Advertising of energy drinks was prohibited on television and radio from 7:00 to 22:00. It was also completely banned in printed publications intended primarily for children and adolescents, in medical, sports and educational institutions.[72][clarification needed]



In India, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) regulates the manufacturing, packaging, labeling, and sale of energy drinks. As recommended by FSSAI, taurine is limited to 2000 mg/day, D-glucuronic-Y-lactone is limited to 1200 mg/day, Inositol is limited to 100 mg/day, and pantothenic acid is limited to 10 mg/day.[73]

See also



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Further reading