A balanced approach to energy drinks

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The pros and cons of energy drinks are often talked about these days. Some people worry about the levels of sugar and caffeine contained in these drinks, but like anything you put into your body, they simply need to be consumed safely and in moderation.

The stresses of our modern lives can take their toll and as a result, more people have been looking at ways to fuel their mental and physical capacity, especially during periods of heavy workload. Energy drinks are one way of getting a quick and tasty boost and everyone from moms to college seniors can use them to get to the other side of a busy day.

So what's actually in these drinks and how do these ingredients work?

Main ingredients of energy drinks

Caffeine is found in hot drinks like tea and coffee as well as sodas. It's a stimulant and is the thing that keeps you alert when you consume an energy drink. Research has shown that caffeine can reduce fatigue, sharpen your short-term memory and make your reactions quicker.

Taurine is an amino acid which occurs naturally in everything from fish to breast milk. It can regulate the body's water and salt balance and reports have suggested it has some neurological and dietary benefits.

Herbal ingredients can be found in different varieties of energy drinkincluding ginseng, which gives a natural energy boost; kava, which has a calming effect; and Gingko Biloba, which can enhance memory.

How do energy drinks work?

The main reason energy drinks are consumed is to increase energy levels, especially at times when you're prone to tiredness, such as after lunch at work or late afternoon when the kids have had their nap. 

You may also see results of caffeine much quicker than if you were to have a cup of coffee instead, as all you have to do with an energy drink is unscrew the cap.

Anyone who's into health and fitness can also benefit from energy drinks, as they can help you keep going for longer and push yourself more at the gym or when out for a run.

How to get the balance right

It's important to note that energy drinks do contain sugar. With this, try to stick to an intake of 16 ounces per day. Energy drinks should be drunk with plenty of water and avoid mixing them with alcohol. It's fine to give children energy drinks in moderation, as long as you monitor how much they are drinking and make sure they keep hydrated as well.

The main thing to remember is to check the list of ingredients before you give an energy drink to your child or consume it yourself. So long as you're aware of the quantities of things like caffeine, you can control your intake and enjoy the benefits that energy drinks can bring.

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