OK, we'll admit: Monster Energy Drinks and 5-Hour Energy are not vicious killers. But the newest round of reports, linking both drinks to more than 20 deaths, has many worried that their need for caffeine may be the death of them. (No pun intended.)
But while the energy drink name is being dragged through the mud, a new kind of energy drink has emerged in the market: the natural energy drink. The brightly colored, nicely designed bottles claim to be chock-full of vitamins, electrolytes, and most importantly, caffeine from natural sources.
And they may be a more viable option, since more and more people are putting down the traditional energy drinks. Gene Grabowski, executive vice president of LEVICK Strategic Communications and a crisis communications counselor, says he has heard of a slight drop-off of Monster Energy Drinks since the FDA reports surfaced. And because Monster is most popular with teens, parents may soon take the energy drinks out of the fridge. (5-Hour Energy, Grabowski says, is tageted to older adults in demanding jobs — so the adverse publicity may not matter to the consumers at all.) But do the natural energy drinks live up to the claim — and how are they different from their energy drink siblings?
Josh Taekman, the co-founder of one such natural energy drink alternative, EBOOST, explained the mechanisms of traditional energy drinks — and why they make you crash. When he set out to create EBOOST, he was looking for a product without the ephedra (which is now banned from use in dietary supplements by the FDA). "It's great energy if you want to lift a car off a child," he said of the energy drinks. But he soon learned the dangerous side of energy drinks. "Most energy drinks deplete your adrenal glands," he said, which helps the body balance water and electrolytes in the body and also secretes adrenalin and nonadrenaline. Taekman said that energy drinks also act as a diuretic, which further depletes the body of hydration and electrolytes.
Traditional energy drinks, with few vitamins but plenty of artificial flavors and colors, give you a false sense of energy, said Taekman. "It's like trickery," he said. "It tricks your body into thinking you have energy, but once it stabalizes, you get that huge crash." Of course, some energy drinks do have vitamins, like B12 (particularly known for its energy-boosting properties), B6, and niacin (a B-complex vitamin). "But [the drinks] kind of stop there," he said.
It's why Taekman created EBOOST, the natural energy drinks and powder supplements. The ingredient listings for EBOOST come with vitamins you may actually recognize: in addition to the B vitamins, EBOOST contains vitamin C, vitamin D, folic acid, potassium, and zinc. "It's about a healthy way to get energy," Taekman said. "EBOOST is substantiated with real vitamins and nutrients that support the delivery of healthy energy, that supports immunity, hydration, electrolyte replacement, and focus."