Why are energy drinks more dangerous than coffee or tea?

While it’s true that 80-90% of Americans consume caffeine on a daily basis, they typically do so in much smaller doses than the extreme and often obscured levels found in energy drinks. And unlike energy drinks, some studies have found coffee and tea to have positive health effects (though there is no consensus on the extent of those benefits or how best to reap them).

Energy drinks are doubly troubling because they not only contain dangerously high amounts of caffeine and sugar, they mix these stimulants with a cocktail of other supplements and extracts: taurine, guarana, ginseng, etc. Scientists don’t know the long-term effects of ingesting these ingredients on their own, let alone how they interact with each other.

Given the dearth of research, the fact that energy drink companies aren’t required by the FDA to disclose the quantity of these ingredients in their products, and the drinks’ alarming amounts of caffeine and sugar, it is no wonder that in 2011 alone there were 20,783 emergency room visits involving energy drinks. Dozens of fatalities have been linked to these drinks; the same can’t be said for coffee or tea.