Spike Energy drinkTwo-thirds of the energy drink brands on the market do not disclose their caffeine content and of the ones that do so, some ignore the threshold for what is considered excessive, researchers at GoodGuide.com found.

Venom, Monster, 5-Hour Energy, Ammo, FRS, and Red Bull Cola all keep hush about the amount of caffeine they put in their drinks, according to GoodGuide, which ranks consumer products according to their impact on health and the environment.

"Companies must think they will lose money, except on brands that advertise how powerful they are," Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University told Consumer Ally.

Coca-Cola's Full Throttle, which calls itself "the hardest working energy drink on the block," also does not disclose its caffeine level. The brand is the official sponsor of the National Hot Rod Association Drag Racing Series, the world's premier motor sports championship.

Of the beverage makers that are transparent about their caffeine content, Viso Energy Vigor and Spike Shooter each have 300 mg of caffeine in an 8-ounce serving. That's 50% more than the 200mg guideline set by the American Dietetic Association. High amounts of caffeine cause jitters and insomnia, and can be especially harmful to people between 12 and 17 years old, who make up about a third of the energy drink market. (See the chart below from GoodGuide.com)
Caffeine content in energy drinks
"I think parents would be interested in how much caffeine their kids are getting," Nestle said.

By comparison, Red Bull, Amp, Hi-Ball Energy, Rip It and Rock Star all contain the same amount of caffeine as is found in a can of Pepsi or a cup of brewed coffee (95mg or less), according to GoodGuide. A cup of premium coffee such as Starbucks has up to 180mg of caffeine.

Energy shots -- a variation on the 8-ounce beverage that pack the same punch in a 2-ounce bottle -- can also exceed the tolerable upper limits for caffeine. According to a report by ConsumerLab.com, an independent subscription-based site that tests hundreds of unregulated health supplements, 5-Hour Energy shot contains 207mg of caffeine. That's 15% higher than what one would get from a "tall" cup of Starbucks.

Stacker 2 6-Hour Power Shot also contains alarmingly high levels of caffeine, the report warns. Cramming 156mg into a 2-ounce package, the drink has 64% more of the stimulant than an 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee. In addition, both 5-Hour Energy and Stacker do not live up to their B-vitamin label claims, which were found to exaggerate the actual amount of the vitamins.

Living Essentials, the company behind 5-hour Energy, spends $60 million a year on advertisements and is known for keeping its ingredients top secret, claiming only that it contains about as much caffeine as a cup of the leading premium coffee (Starbucks). It was sued earlier this year by the family of a man who died after drinking it.

Caffeine intoxication is a potentially serious health risk associated with energy drinks, which "work" to restore mental and physical alertness by increasing blood pressure. It can occur with consumption of 250mg of caffeine.

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I love the NOS grape energy drinks. However, I limit my intake to one a day. My concern with these drinks is this......several years ago my daughter (she was 15 at the time) had a massive seizure. We took her to the hospital and they checked everything (she had an allergic reaction to Reglan when she was an infant and I was afraid she had taken or been given something that contained Reglan). Couldn't find anything ...
...continued looking for a reason for the seizure through our family doctor and specialists...still nothing. Finally someone made a comment about her drinking numerous energy drinks on a daily basis. Well, bingo.....that is the only thing that she was doing that was any different to what she had done before. I quit allowing her to have these drinks. She is now 21 and no more seizures. I work at a a large retailer and I know I risk my job but when I see a parent and child at my register and I realize the energy drink the parent is purchasing is for the child, I tell the parent what happened with my daughter so that the parent can monitor their child to make sure they don't have too many of these drinks and they can monitor their child after the child has drank this drink. I do not want another child to go through what my child did and I wouldn't want another parent to be as scared as I was that night. So parents, if your child is drinking these drinks, PLEASE watch them closely and carefully. You have no idea what this much caffiene/sugar may do to your child's body. My child was going to spend the night with her friend whose mother lived about an hour and a half away and if they had been on the road when she had the seizure I am sure her friend would have crashed her car.....she was that scared. I am not putting these drinks down....my concern is for the children and their well being.

September 12 2012 at 12:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply