Energy drinks, from old to new

Modern American society is constantly in a fast-paced, go-all-the-way mindset that sometimes has people looking for that little boost in the middle of the day. In this environment, people often turn to boosters with terms such as “vitamin supplements” as well as traditional energy drinks. Energy drink sales were up 6.7 percent this year, according to the online journal Caffeine Informer. This marks a higher amount of sales than the previous year. Red Bull topped the list, raking in $3.4 billion in just 52 weeks, according to the journal's report. Monster drinks came in second with sales of $3.1 billion.

This year also saw the release of a new design for the I AM drink brand.

A line of liquid stimuli, with drinks such as I AM Happy, I AM Energized, I AM Sleepy and I AM Focused, could be found at well-known health food stores such as Whole Foods and Sprouts Farmers Market.

The spike in energy drink sales encompasses the larger issue of what people are now using to replace pills or fill the void of hours of lost sleep. Names like Rockstar, NOS and Full Throttle are testaments to the appeal of needing quick energy kicks.

Sales of energy drinks and shots will grow to roughly $21.5 billion by 2017, according to data collected by Packaged Facts, a publisher of market research for food.

"We are carrying the product in some of our stores because the formulation and delivery system is something that our customers would enjoy; some of our customers have grown tired of swallowing pills," stated Whole Foods representative Ashley Gibbons on behalf of Whole Body buyers in a reply to The Corsair concerning the selling of energy drinks such as I AM.

Yvonne Ortega, nutrition professor at Santa Monica College and registered dietitan, read the I AM Happy's bottle contents.

"They have their own blend," Ortega said. "That's actually what a lot of supplements will do. Unfortunately, the FDA doesn't regulate those ingredients."

"The I AM Happy liquid supplement contains a combination of B vitamins, magnesium, ashwagandha, L-tyrosine, lavender and other herbs and nutrients known for improving mood and energy and helping the body cope with stress."

The official manufacturer of I AM products could not be reached for comment.

"The energy drinks in general, a lot of them are classified as supplement and are not under the FDA like food and beverages are," Ortega said. "They kind of go unregulated, so the bad thing about that is that no one is testing for any kind of safety or for whether or not they're effective."

"What is not tested and approved are the combinations of these ingredients," she added.

Energy drinks in general have been known to spike heart rates, which can be dangerous when too much is consumed before exercising.

"It all has to do with how the body reacts to these ingredients," said Ortega. "I am very caffeine-sensitive. For example, if I take caffeine, I will be shaking like a leaf. Some people have the same reaction but still drink it."

Ardell Gipson, one of the trainers at the SMC training room, acknowledged that many athletes are out there "pounding Red Bulls."

"They don't check the weather, so it gets really hot and they're not drinking water," said Gipson. "Water doesn't taste good, but you need it. A good substitute instead of energy drinks is Pedialyte. It's what they give babies."

A group of SMC cheerleaders turned down the offer of trying the I AM liquid supplements.

"We know teammates who use energy drinks, but they don't enhance your performance," cheer team member Darriann Jones said.

"Energy drinks have become very trendy because of the marketing that goes on," said Ortega. "Whether it's organic or not, it still has a bunch of ingredients that are not regulated by the FDA. They sell organic soda and people buy it thinking it's healthy."

If you feel the pressure of finals, homework and work sapping your strength, there are still some common habits that can help.

"There's enough research to support that a breakfast will give you the energy you need," Ortega said. "It really does come down to the basics of having a well-balanced breakfast every day."


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