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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at MSU chapter.

A lot of us started drinking energy drinks in either high school or college. Their sweet, soda taste and quick bursts of energy make them the ideal drink for overworked and tired students. Nowadays, there are tons of brands making energy drinks that are available for us to get on Combo-X-Change, here on Michigan State’s campus. But not a lot of people know exactly what they’re putting in their bodies. If you look at the list of ingredients on your energy drinks, there are a few key substances that should stick out to you. Here’s what they are:

Taurine is a naturally occurring amino acid that is believed to have antioxidant properties. It is naturally found in meat, fish, and dairy products. It is also available as a supplement and in pre-workouts. Mixed research suggests that taurine helps improve athletic and mental performance. Because taurine is a naturally occurring substance, it is unlikely that a healthy adult has an actual deficiency of it. Synthetic taurine in energy drinks may cause some side effects, but it may be a result of the substance mixing with medications or other ingredients.

Guarana is derived from a plant, native to the Amazon. It has been used by Amazonian tribes for centuries for its medicinal properties. It contains many stimulant compounds like caffeine, which make it the perfect ingredient for energy drinks. Guarana supplements are taken for obesity, athletic performance, and energy increases, but it can be dangerous in large amounts. 

L-carnitine is a chemical that turns body fat into energy and is naturally occurring in the human brain, liver, and kidneys. For those who have lower natural l-carnitine, supplements can be taken to help improve the conditions of the heart and blood vessels. However, l-carnitine can be unsafe when taken in long-term doses. It can cause side effects like heartburn, upset stomach, and seizures. 

It’s always important to educate yourself on what exactly it is you’re putting into your body, whether it’s organic or nonorganic produce or beverages, like energy drinks. Regular consumption of drinks with these substances can have long-term negative effects on one’s health. I can understand that many people do not have the capacity to look for alternatives, but finding ways to supplement the consumption of energy drinks can help prevent these long-term effects from materializing. 

Risa Bhutani is a junior at Michigan State University studying accounting. She is also the events director for Her Campus at Michigan State and enjoys creating core memories for people in the chapter through events. She is a fan of reality TV, true crime, reading, and hiking in her spare time.