Hello there, my friends!  I hope you are treating life well, and I hope it is reciprocating!  Today, I want to explore one of the most popular energy drinks on the market today: 5-Hour Energy!  To be sure, this little drink has mass sex appeal in a convenient little bottle.  It causes little to no hassle and can always come to your rescue when and where you need it!

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I investigated this drink and figured that I would give you my synopsis of this so-called spit-fire elixir!  So let’s go through the main ingredients of the product and explain the potential associated health risks, if any.

Taurine: A naturally occurring organic acid in the human body largely found in bile.  It has pivotal roles in cardiovascular function, optimal skeletal muscle function, and it aids in the smooth operation of the central nervous system. [1]  From my studies, I have not found any known toxicity levels, so this one checks out just fine, at least on the surface.

Malic Acid:  This bad boy occurs naturally in fruits and some veggies, and it is also used as a food additive to add a pleasant “sour” taste.  It is often added to drinks and hard candy.  Malic acid was first isolated from apple juice by Carl Wilhelm Scheelee in 1785.  I am not aware of any adverse reactions to its consumption, so to the best of my knowledge this one checks out, but it does NOT lead to increased energy.

Tyrosine:  One of 22 amino acids used in the human body to create proteins.  Essentially, amino acids combine in various combinations to create proteins.  By themselves amino acids can have positive and negative physiological ramification.  In the amount that 5-Hour Energy hosts this non-essential amino acid, it will neither give nor take away from your energy levels.

Phenylalanine:  One of the nine essential amino acids, phenylalanine is biochemically converted to tyrosine and then to L-DOPA, which is converted into dopamine, norepinephrine (noradrenaline), and epinephrine (adrenaline).  In large amounts, this amino acid can interfere with serotonin production (your feel-good hormone).  I have found no research to support that this amino acid contributes to energy production.

Glucuronolactone:  A white, naturally occurring chemical that is an important structural component of nearly all human connective tissue.  Many claims are made of its detoxifying attributes in the human body but researching is lacking.  While it harmless to consume, it has not been proven to provide additional energy to the human body.

Citicoline: Purported to be a “brain tonic” or a psycho stimulant, if you want to get technical.  Indeed, some studies have found this to be the case. [2] In short, it helps increase dopamine receptors, which, in turn, helps lead to a dopamine associated “feel good” state. In other words, this ingredient may make you feel better, which is a definite bonus, but it does not give you more energy (at least directly).

Niacin: Also known as Vitamin B3.  This organic compound is a necessary nutrient and helps with the conversion of energy in human metabolism, but it does NOT directly produce energy.  Deficiencies are unheard of in first-world and even most third world countries, so adding it to a drink and claiming that it helps promote energy (at least insinuating it) seems like “gimmick-ville” to me!

Folic acid/Vitamin B6/Vitamin B12: Also part of the B-Complex vitamin family and are all essential for human health and metabolism.  The roles of these vitamins could go on for pages, but as with B3 they do NOT directly contribute to energy production.  They are not a bad ingredient and will not cause any undesirable health side effects if consumed in correct proportions, but, again, they do not lead to “hours of energy.” Think of it this way, if you have a good green leafy salad, you will already get what you are paying for in this drink.

Caffeine:  Okay, okay…now we get to the actual ACTIVE ingredient! This drink is 100% (or very close to) powered by caffeine and nothing else!  The human body can tolerate up to 10 grams of caffeine without adverse effect (many other side effects beyond the scope of this article), but this particular drink is well within acceptable and healthy ranges according to the vast majority of research done on caffeine, so it checks out in the safe department.

The Bottom Line: 5-Hour Energy may be just fine for you if you enjoy the convenience that it yields, and the flavor that teases your tongue.  Other than that, you can get the exact same effect from an over-the-counter store brand of caffeine that costs you literally 1/3 of the price.  Their claim that there will be “no crash later” is based on the fact that it is sugar free and you cannot and will not get a blood sugar/insulin crash.  This is true and may have merit, but again you can get the same effect from unsweetened coffee or a caffeine pill.

I am not trying to dog-on this product because I think that it can be very helpful for on-the-go people and for athletes, but it does carry a little heftier price tag and has ingredients that do not provide the energy that you have been led to believe. In short, you are getting a sugar-free caffeine rush with a few extra vitamins and substances thrown in.  Period.  Life is good, my friends!

God Bless,

Griff

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