As a supplement company that sell some high caffeine products including energy drinks, we are obligated to stay abreast of current information so that we can act in the best interests of our consumers. So when we find new research to suggest that certain nutritional supplements may effect members of the public in different ways to others, we like to take note.
The caffeine response
Caffeine has a number of functions, all of which can be put to good use in athletes, one of the main benefits is stimulation, closely followed by reduced perceived exertion. Stimulation can tune a person in psychologically, which then translates to elevated reactions and response times. Reduced levels of perceived exertion is when an athlete feels able to perform more physical activity than without caffeine, it refers to their own internal perceptions of pain and fatigue, so the athlete begins to perceive exercise as less laborious when under the influence of caffeine. Caffeine doesn’t really have a direct action on energy in that it doesn’t deliver glucose or other nutritional components, however many of the mediums by which caffeine is consumed does contain glucose, a prime example being the energy drink.
How energy drinks work
Energy drinks work in a triple pronged fashion, 1.) Delivering energy in the form of glucose (dextrose), maltodextrin and/ or fructose, 2.) Provide stimulation, usually via caffeine, and 3.) Replenish fluid and electrolytes. The delivery of energy is integral to sustained activity levels, whilst the addition of electrolytes (and of course fluid) maintains osmoregulation i.e. the balance between fluid and electrolytes in the blood and muscle. Then caffeine is added for the reasons mentioned above, namely reduced perceived exertion and stimulation. Caffeine is known to have some effects on the cardiovascular system, heart rate often increases in response to caffeine intake. However, some people present with a more aggressive response to caffeine, especially if they aren’t used to it.
Caffeine and blood pressure
The Mayo Clinic’s study found that energy drinks containing caffeine resulted in elevated heart rate and blood pressure. The rise in blood pressure was more pronounced in those not used to consuming caffeine, in fact, the rise in blood pressure almost doubled in ‘caffeine naive’ people. Caffeine is known to affect heart rate and blood pressure to some extent, but it wasn’t clear how much. This is a consideration that deserves recognition from the consumer before considering high caffeine energy drinks. Caffeine energy drinks can, and are consumed safely by a growing proportion of the population, particularly amongst children and younger people. For this reason we at Discount Supplements categorically do not sell supplements to people under the age of 18, and parents or guardians should aim to reduce the amount of caffeine their children consume.
What should you do?
Lead author Anna Svatikova, M.D., Ph.D., cardiovascular disease fellow at the Mayo Clinic explains:
"Now we are seeing that for those not used to caffeine, the concern may be even greater. Consumers should use caution when using energy drinks because they may increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, even among young people."
So the message is clear, if you are relatively new to caffeine, then start to introduce caffeine gradually, don’t jump straight into 200-300mg of caffeine per serving if you’re not used to it. Instead opt for a non- stim or low- stim option first and build up gradually.
Science Daily, (2015). Energy drinks raise resting blood pressure, with effect most dramatic in those not used to caffeine. Retrieved 17th March, 2015, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150313130743.htm