David Castillo Dominici/PhotoSpin
I'm not a huge TV watcher but that's not through choice -- I'd like to have the time to watch more!
Still, when I have the misfortune to have to watch commercials due to not DVR'ing my shows, I often see commercials for energy drinks.
These commercials tend to talk about things like "that 2:30 p.m. feeling" where moms, office workers, heavy machinery operators and even judges seem to almost fall asleep on the job -- until they partake from a small container of an energy drink that promises them hours of high octane, high energy work that can save their day.
I usually fob these off as nothing more than highly caffeinated drinks that are generally advertised by fit, sexy young people who seem to regularly succeed in life due to swigging down a few ounces of some kind of miracle potion.
According to a New York Times article, energy drinks are the fastest growing segment of beverages sold in the U.S. and sales hit 10 billion dollars in 2012.
Because many energy drinks tout their products as "scientifically engineered" or "scientifically made", they give the impression that there is somehow a medical benefit from drinking these beverages.
Researchers looked into their claims to see if the claims of health benefits and energy boosts were really true.
It turns out that if you're skeptical, you probably have a right to be. It really seems to be caffeine and sugar that causes the energy boost - something than can be found in a cheap cup of coffee rather than the highly overpriced cans of energy drinks that promise alertness.
But another additive used in many energy drinks is called taurine. Taurine is an amino acid found in animals and dairy (so vegetarians/vegans take note) but it can also be found in kosher and vegetarian supplements at GNC for about $6.50 per 50 tablets.
To veer away from any negative side effects of certain ingredients, manufacturers focus on the vitamins and minerals in energy drinks and inform consumers of their "sugar-free" status.
For those energy drinks that do have sugar, this can also be lauded as an obvious way to gain energy and fast. And the drinks aren't cheap, costing up to four dollars per can.