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The Non-Issue With Energy Drinks

Back in late October, Monster Beverage (MNST) saw nearly a 10 point drop on news of an FDA investigation related to the deaths of a few people. The FDA is looking to add regulations on the content of these energy drinks, including Red Bull and smaller variants of 5-hour energy.

"Energy drinks are bad for you" a stranger proclaimed to me in a shopping queue. She was eating a snickers and her diabetic mother was in line.

These claims are statistically hilarious and a great example of insignificant data extrapolated to terrible things by the media.

I have a long history with energy drinks. I had a fraternity brother who worked as a marketing guy at MNST and would bring back drinks by the pallet. My sister-in-law was a "red bull girl" who would feed us drinks whenever she was around.

I also ended up in the hospital after energy drink consumption.

I could probably make some sort of sob story about how energy drinks caused me to have chest pains and sent to the E.R.

But the fact is, there were plenty of other drivers of the problem.

The day before I consumed too much beer and then two 16 ounce Monster drinks. I woke up the morning after with severe chest pain, and went to the ER to get it diagnosed.

I've been a healthy guy all my life so this was certainly a new thing for me.

I was diagnosed with pericarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart sac. It was caused by a previous allergy or some sort of infection, and only was exacerbated by the "stressors" of the day before.

Were energy drinks the cause of my woes? Nope. Energy drinks are the equivalent coffee with some b-vitamins. If I had drank a pot of coffee instead of energy drinks, the same fate would have befallen me.

And the handful of deaths linked to energy drinks are linked more to heart conditions and over-consumption of caffeine, not anything special in the energy drinks themselves. Caffeine sensitivity has a high variance and can be related with preexisting conditions, age, and other substances in the body.

Will MNST regains its footing after a multi-month downtrend? No idea-- regulators may followthrough with their overreaction, but they'll have to get past KO and PEP as well.

And because I've been challenged by The_Real_Fly, I'll go through the list of ingredients on a Lo-Carb Monster Energy Drink:

  • Carbonated Water - Completely Neutral. It might harm your teeth but the evidence is related to sugar + carbonated water
  • Glucose - Major energy source
  • Citric Acid - Needed for Krebs Cycle
  • Taurine - Essential amino acid that has benefits for heart and blood
  • Sodium Citrate - flavoring, used for kidneys and is an antacid
  • Panax Ginseng - amazing supplement; good for mood, immunity, cognition
  • Caffeine - good in moderation, bad in excess
  • Sorbic Acid - preservative with no adverse health effects
  • Sucralose - sweetener with no proven side-effects. Chronic effects occur on a dosage above 9 mg/kg
  • Benzoic Acid - preservative that naturally occurs in berries. Stay under 5 mg/kg
  • L-Carintine - wonderful little supplement that is good for you, potential nootropic
  • Niacinamide - vitamin B3
  • Acesulfame Potassium - sweetener, potential carcinogen although studies lack confidence
  • Sodium Chloride - table salt
  • Glucuronolactone - aids circulation, is good for your heart
  • Inositol - good for you, prevents colon cancer, sold as a supplement
  • Guarana Seed - caffeine source, aids memory and physical endurance
  • Pyridoxine HCL - vitamin B6
  • Riboflavin - found in your wheaties
  • Maltodextrin - starch, no known health issues
  • Cyanocobalamin - vitamin B12

Note that this is for sugar free drinks; if you're drinking full sugar drinks have fun with your diabetes.

by Steven Place

Steven Place is the founder and head trader at