Monday, 3 December 2018

To Use Or Not To Use

I've played a lot of beer-league hockey in my time, and I know that sometimes we're assigned the latest possible timeslot to not only save us money, but save us some embarrassment as well. In any case, there's usually a few guys who hit the 11pm timeslot with coffees in-hand, but I've been noticing that there are more and more accountants-turned-playmakers who are turning to energy drinks like 5-Hour Energy to give them the pick-me-up they need to power through an old-timers game. The swear by their effectiveness, but I've always been sceptical of their efficacy when it comes to what's actually in one of these tiny bottles.

So what's in the bottle? Well, Mel Magazine's Ian Lecklitner got the science on the beverage and the skinny on the chemicals to figure out if 5-Hour Energy beverages and the likes are actually doing what they claim! You're encouraged to read the linked article, but I'll do a quick recap of his findings here.

First, what's in that li'l bottle?
And what exactly is all that stuff? Here's what Mr. Lecklitner found.
  1. Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folic Acid, and Vitamin B12: all of these chemicals are simply variants of the B-vitamin. Niacin is Vitamin B3, B6 is B6, Folic Acid is Vitamin B9, and B12 is B12. And as Dana Hunnes, senior dietitian at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, told Lecklitner, unless one suffers from "significant niacin deficiencies, which are 'exceedingly rare'", all that would happen is that you'd pee out the excess B-vitamins. So these are mostly useless, yet they comprise the biggest portion of the ingredients as they are listed in concentrations from largest to smallest on the ingredients list.
  2. Taurine and Glucuronolactone: studies are ongoing with regards to the effects these chemicals have when mixed with caffeine, but it seems that more research is needed as the effects are largely unproven.
  3. Malic Acid, N-Acetyl L Tyrosine, L-Phenylalanine, and Citicoline: all have found to be rather useless when it comes to how the body uses them.
  4. Caffeine: the effects of too much caffeine have been published time and time again, but caffeine really does work as a pick-me-up for some, and a 5-Hour Energy has the equivalent amount as a 12-ounce cup of coffee. It should also be noted that caffeine can play a role in dehydrating a person based on how much one has ingested.
  5. Purified Water: gotta dissolve all this stuff in something, right?
  6. Natural and Artificial Flavors: these are reportedly added in such small quantities that they don't even matter.
  7. Sucralose: better known as Splenda, an artificial sweetener.
  8. Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate and EDTA: three preservatives that prevent the growth of microbes, bacteria, and molds. EDTA seems like it might be the most concerning of the bunch if you have medical conditions already.
So what does Mr. Lecklitner conclude? He writes,
5-Hour ENERGY contains the caffeine-equivalent of a 12-ounce cup of coffee, then the manufacturers threw in a bunch of useless ingredients to help convince consumers that this is, in fact, more effective than coffee. But according to Consumer Reports, who had access to an unpublished double-blind study on that exact topic, "We found little if any research showing that other ingredients on the label — including B vitamins and amino acids — would give the average person a boost. 5-Hour ENERGY will probably chase away grogginess at least as well as a cup of coffee."
I guess I'll stick with my Tim Hortons beverage on the way into the rink. I do love that warming feeling of the coffee as you drink it down while getting that first blast of cold air when walking into the rink as it is, so why mess with a good thing?

I do know that I don't need a lot of unnecessary chemicals in my body. I guess neither this blog nor I will ever be sponsored by 5-Hour Energy.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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