www.whyville.net Sep 12, 2004 Weekly Issue

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Red Bull: Energy Wonder or Blunder?

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Is Red Bull(tm) really as great as they would like you to think?

"That stuff is awful for you! It's, like, pure caffeine!"

Those were the words of my field hockey coach when she found out that people had been handing out Red Bull on campus. Well, after hearing that, and other negative things about the energy drink, I got curious, so I did some reaserch on it.

First things first: the history of Red Bull. Dietrich Mateschitz was the creator of the drink. He actually got the idea for from a Thai beverage called Krating Daeng. He got a local pharmacy to manufacture the beverage in 1984, and they took stakes in his firm, Red Bull GmbH. And that was the start of it all!

Second thing I looked at was the official Red Bull site, where I found the ingredients of the popular drink. Here's what's in the stuff!

The first ingredient, and most prominent, is Taurine. Now, on the site, it said that in many cases Taurine is essential to have in the body. And I found that it can lower the risk of certain cardiovascular diseases and reduce blood pressure, according to a San Fransisco dietician. And taurine has been used in the treatment of epilepsy. So then why is the stuff being banned in France, Denmark, and Canada?

Other ingredients: Glucuronolactone (which is a type of sugar), caffeine, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B12, sucrose, and glucose.

Also, sugar-free Red Bull contains aspartame, the topic of many recent articles in the Times. But still, I hadn't found the answer to my question: Is the stuff good for you, or bad?

One thing I found out is that Red Bull is becoming increasingly popular in clubs, where it is mixed with alcohol, but doctors and nutritions have warned of the dangers of doing this. Now I was starting to get somewhere.

I typed in Red Bull Health Risks, and found many results. I learned out that in 2000, an 18-year-old basketball player actually died after having four cans of Red Bull before a game, but the connection was inconclusive (meaning they couldn't prove it was the Red Bull that killed him). I also found that the Swedish National Food Administration investigated the drink after it was linked to the deaths of three consumers. Wow, how's that for 'giving you wings'? Also, it was linked to miscarrages, and pregnant women are advised not to drink it! Then I searched up Red Bull Health Benefits, but only found 2 or 3 sites compared to the many others I found on health risks.

So, is Red Bull really healthy for you? From what I found above, it seems unlikely. Maybe in smaller quantities, but is it really worth all the risks? Red Bull is also dangerous to people who have heart or blood pressure problems, because too much caffeine can really mess with your heart rate. So, the next time you feel like chugging a couple Red Bulls, think about it first.

Well, it's 2:00 in the morning, so I'm off to bed!





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