Engineering sophomore Milind Chinoy is one of many college students who rely on Red Bull energy drink for that extra kick to pull through all-night study sessions.
“I”ll usually drink it late at night when I”m getting some work done. It basically works like a cup of coffee,” Chinoy said.
According to Red Bull product information, the amount of caffeine in one can of Red Bull equates to the amount in one cup of black, unfiltered coffee, which is about 80 milligrams per 8.3-ounce can of Red Bull.
Despite Red Bull”s seemingly harmless functional purpose to keep students awake, Dr. Anita Sandretto, interim director of the School of Public Health”s Human Nutrition Program, cautions that energy drinks containing high levels of caffeine should be used in moderation as one should limit intake of Red Bull to no more than four cans per day.
“The recommended intake that you will see from a variety of health professionals is a ceiling of 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. That is about four eight-ounce cups of coffee,” Sandretto said.
“Caffeinated beverages have an average of 4 milligrams per ounce or about 48 milligrams per 12-ounce can. Of course, Mountain Dew has about twice that much and Jolt has even more,” she added.
In addition to caffeine, Red Bull features an ingredient known as Taurine a naturally produced amino acid that helps speed the body”s metabolic process.
The drink also contains well over 200 percent of the daily recommended value of B vitamins, but the usefulness of such a large amount is questionable.
“These are water soluble vitamins and will be lost in the urine if the body does not need them,” Sandretto said. “Unfortunately, for the drinkers of these energy drinks, one of the things that they have is very expensive urine.”
Red Bull is among a variety of energy drink companies to market its product to young and on-the-go people.
Free promotional events and products are common on college campuses. Chinoy said he was introduced to the drink by Red Bull representatives on campus who handed out free samples of the drink to students early last semester.
Last year, the energy drink market increased by 102 percent, with Red Bull accounting for 68 percent of sales, according to the Beverage Marketing Corporation.
Newer brands seeking to cash in on the trend include Amp, Adrenaline Rush and Whoop Ass.
For a mere eight ounces, energy drinks can cost more than two dollars a can.
Last year, Red Bull sales were more than 135 million wholesale in the U.S. alone. Red Bull is sold in 50 countries worldwide.