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The main ingredients used in energy drinks are taurine, guarana, caffeine, carbohydrates and/or B vitamins.
Taurine is an organic acid found in the human body: in the brain, in the retina, and in cardiac and skeletal muscle. Meat, fish, mussels, nuts, mushrooms and beans are food products that contain taurine. People believe that taurine reduces anxiety and lifts the mood. However, no reliable tests on humans have yet been carried out.
Consuming 500 ml of an energy drink gives our body 1000-2000 mg of taurine, which is five times more than the quantity of taurine obtained from ordinary food during the day. The maximum permitted taurine content in energy drinks is 400 mg/100 ml.
Research has indicated that taurine reduces heart damage caused by calcium and normalises blood pressure, reduces the risk of gallstones and lowers the level of cholesterol.
Caffeine is found in ca 60 plants. The guaranin found in guarana, the theine found in tea and the mateine found in the leaves of the Yerba Mate tree are synonyms for caffeine. Cocoa beans and kola nuts also contain small quantities of caffeine.
Caffeine energises the nervous system and boosts circulation, metabolism and reaction speed, reduces sleepiness, increases activity and lifts the mood. The maximum permitted caffeine quantity in an energy drink is 32 mg/100 ml (a medium-strength cup of coffee contains 80 mg/l).
Caffeine speeds up the functioning of the kidneys and increases perspiration. Caffeine expands blood vessels and improves blood supply. As a result, the blood vessels in skeletal muscles expand, but the blood vessels in most internal organs become narrower at the same time.
Guarana is a stimulant found in the seeds of a climbing plant native to the Amazon basin, which relaxes muscles, stimulates circulation and the nervous system and improves metabolism. Guarana also suppresses appetite. Its refreshing effect is fast-acting and lasts longer than that of other stimulants.
(Sources: National Institute for Health Development; Mari Järvelaid, Department of Public Health of the Ministry of Social Affairs; web.adrenaliin.ee Energy Drinks Help You Do More)