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Caffeine Concerns continued...

5-Hour Energy says only that one of its regular shots contains about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of the leading premium coffee -- which for an 8-ounce cup at Starbucks would work out to 180 milligrams. (5-Hour Energy also comes in decaf and extra-strength.) Coke’s NOS PowerShot has 125 milligrams of caffeine, and Rockstar Energy Shot has 200 milligrams. A 12-ounce can of Coke, by comparison, contains 35 mg of caffeine. Some energy shots also contain guarana, a plant that produces caffeine.

Chris Rosenbloom, RD, PhD, a professor of nutrition at Georgia State University in Atlanta, says, "Caffeine in doses of 200 or 300 milligrams a day is moderate and fine. But if you’re starting to get way over that, I would cut back."

Caffeine and other stimulants in energy shots are of special concern for those who play sports, Rosenbloom says. Yet getting a quick boost before exercising is one of the key reasons consumers say they take energy shots.

"The point of exercise is to get your heart rate up and sustain your blood pressure. You don’t want to go into that already revved up," Rosenbloom says. "If you have any underlying health issue, that could trigger a heart attack, a stroke, some kind of episode of really high blood pressure."

Some people drink energy shots to try to sober up after drinking alcohol so they can drive home.

Brent Bauer, MD, director of the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., says, "Being a more alert drunk isn’t any safer than being a drunk. But that seems to be a growing use among some of my younger patients."

Who Drinks Energy Shots?

Young men are the most likely to consume energy drinks and shots, although the market among all adults ages 25 to 45 is growing. Young people ages 12 to 17 who consume energy drinks down an average of 5.2 cans a month. Adults drink an average of 4.6 cans.

"Our target market is working adults who experience fatigue and feel they can benefit from an energy boost," says Lynn Petersmarck, advertising director for Living Essentials.

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