Now That's Energy: Our Best Tips for All-Day Energy
What's in an Energy Drink?
Taurine: This amino acid helps your body move nutrients like potassium into and out of your cells. Does it energize? Mixed with the other ingredients here, it's tough to know.
Panax ginseng: One study found that a daily 1,000- to 2,000-mg dose may improve fatigue in cancer patients, but the 50mg in an energy drink doesn't add up to much.
Caffeine: Studies suggest that caffeine can enhance memory and even protect against Parkinson's disease. A safe limit: 200 to 300mg a day. One can of Rockstar has 160mg.
Guarana: A Brazilian plant, it contains natural caffeine. In a recent study, researchers found that varying doses of guarana enhanced memory, increased alertness, and improved mood.
Inositol: It may help reduce depression and anxiety, but the 50mg in here isn't going to do it. You'd have to drink 360 cans to get as much as study participants did.
B Vitamins: They turn food into energy. "But any boost you get is from the caffeine and sugars, " says Jeannie Gazzaniga Moloo, PhD, an American Dietetic Associate spokesperson.
Gingko biloba: Some studies suggest that this Chinese herb may improve concentration and memory. However, it can also cause side effects such as headache, dizziness, and heart palpitations.
Carnitine: Some studies show that this amino acid may improve heart health. But you'd need to drain 20 to 4 cans daily to get the amount recommended for benefits.
The bottom line: Skip the energy drink and reach for H20, iced tea, vegetable juice, or 100 percent fruit juice instead. "And get a good night's sleep -- it will do a lot more than an energy drink to fight fatigue and improve concentration," says Gazzaniga Moloo.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, October 2007.
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