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Are your teens consuming Energy Drinks? What You Need to Know

Despite the warnings, energy drinks are still among the most commonly used dietary supplements in the United States. In fact, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, “almost one-third of teens between 12 and 17 years drink them regularly.”

Now, new research to be presented at the American Heart Association’s summit in Chicago next week suggests consuming just one drink can lead to negative effects on blood vessel function.

John Higgins, M.D., M.B.A., of McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston and colleagues studied 44 non-smoking, healthy medical students in their 20s by testing their endothelial function before each of the students drank a 24-ounce energy drink. Researchers repeated endothelial function testing 90 minutes later.

One and a half hours after consuming the energy drink, researchers checked the young adults’ artery flow-mediated dilation – an ultrasound measurement that indicates overall blood vessel health. They found vessel dilation was on average 5.1 percent in diameter before the energy drink and fell to 2.8 percent diameter after, suggesting acute impairment in vascular function.

Young, healthy adults experienced notably diminished blood vessel function soon after consuming one energy drink, according to preliminary research from a small study to be presented in Chicago at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2018, a premier global exchange of the latest advances in cardiovascular science for researchers and clinicians. Higgins and colleagues believe that the negative effect may be related to the combination of ingredients in the energy drink, such as caffeine, taurine, sugar and other herbals on the endothelium (lining of the blood vessels).

“As energy drinks are becoming more and more popular, it is important to study the effects of these drinks on those who frequently drink them and better determine what, if any, is a safe consumption pattern,” authors noted. For more information, www.heart.org.

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