Wednesday, December 8, 2010

5-HOUR ENERGY!!!!!!!!!!!

Like the title? It's supposed to signify my "five hour energy rush" ;) . But no, I did not take one of these. I get my energy from food....and caffeine.

Nick and I had Mark and Nicole over for dinner about a month ago. After finishing our meal Nicole's husband, Mark, pulled one of these out of his pocket:

He wasn't going to take it, he was just showing it to us because he knew it would get a rise out of Nicole and I. He was right, it caused quite the conversation! We talked about some pros and cons, and the next week Mark even posted about this product on Nicole's blog. You can read his post here.

I thought he did a great job, but like I said in my comment to him, he missed a few key points (only a dietitian would write a follow-up post!). Here are some things he could have added:

1) While there is a warning to NOT EXCEED TWO BOTTLES DAILY, I would be willing to bet many people do. This is a huge problem. It's not that there is a lot of caffeine in this product, because there isn't, but the problem is the excess of vitamin B6 (and in my opinion, folic acid).

Many energy supplements supply huge doses of the B-vitamins, including B6 and sometimes folic acid, and this one is no different. Out of all of the B-vitamins the ones about which you should be cautious are B6 and folic acid (B9).

So 1 bottle provides 40 mg B6. The Upper Limit (the amount you should not exceed due to the possibility of side effects, such as neuropathy in the case of B6 excess) is 100mg. The Office of Dietary Supplements explains this in a bit more detail. So if you are really sticking to the one bottle, I suppose you would be ok, but do you think there are people out there taking two of these a day? Definitely. This adds up to 80mg B6. Not good because it's close to the 100 mg upper limit. Take another one and you've exceeded it!

This is not to mention the 400mg of folic acid in one bottle, which is a dose I would NEVER exceed (I have read research about cancer risks with higher doses).

2) This product contains another B-vitamin called niacin. We need about 14-18 mg of niacin per day and this product contains about 30mg in one bottle. According to the Natural Standards Database, the recommended supplemental dosage is 15-35 mg. And what do studies show it may help with? Pallegra and cholesterol reduction. What about energy? Nope, not a thing about that. So what's the point?! Niacin has many side-effects too, including flushing of the skin, so watch out for that.

The extra strength version of this product has more Niacin and ~40 mg more caffeine. Seriously, watch out for flushing if you take the extra strength!

3) The commercial for this product is ridiculous, but the marketing team who put it together deserves a bonus! The commercial conveys the idea that in each bottle of 5-Hour Energy you are consuming nutrients equivalent to broccoli, avocado, and banana. Wow, wouldn't that be nice?! Personally I would much rather eat the real fruits and veggies, but other people see this commercial and think, "this is great! I don't have to eat those foods but I can gain the benefits just by taking one of these!!" Fabulous. Little do they know this bottle is simply a bunch of manufactured vitamins and minerals. The product lacks the fiber and the array of phytonutrients, which are present in whole fruits and veggies, and which work symbiotically to provide the benefits to the host (us).

BOTTOM LINE: If you take this product, stick with 1/2-1 bottle. Never take more than one bottle, in my opinion, especially if you are taking a multivitamin in addition!

Just a quick holiday update. Nick and I finished our decorating on Monday. We did white lights on the outside (not the best picture, but I swear it looks pretty neat!).

And we used colored lights on our tree. The lights actually flash but I think it's so tacky when lights flash (no offense to anyone who loves flashing lights....) so we keep them locked so they don't flash.

The only thing left to do this month, other than gift wrapping, is to make 7 loaves of my "famous" pepperoni bread. Today I made peppermint chocolate ice cream, which I will post soon.

Have a great week everyone!


  1. I'm afraid to take one of these. Caffeine affects me a lot. I know B vitamins are water soluble, so do you know what happens when you have too much vitamin B?

  2. I'm 100% agree with you Gina, I'd rather eat real food instead a bottle. Who knows are the sides of effect of putting too much chemicals in our system? Extra energy? well.... eat well, sleep well and workout! It's just that simple but many people prefer to go for the shortcut! :)
    Love your home's decoration! it feels that christmas is just around the corner!!! :D

  3. Lol...that's funny that he brought it to the dinner. Husbands always know how to get a rise out of their wives :-)

  4. I'm going to have to send this to my sister for her to read. She takes more than 1 bottle at a time. I've told her that's crazy but maybe she will take it more seriously if it comes from someone who knows what they are talking about (you) and not her little sister.

  5. Oops, I meant to say more than 1/2 bottle at a time in the above post. I actually didn't know that 1 serving was 1/2 bottle. I thought 1 serving was the whole bottle.

    I've never tried the stuff, I'll just stick to my latte:)

  6. Oh man! Mark made your blog! I already sent him the link! Hilarious :) I couldn't agree more with your points! Now I am TOTALLY stumped as to why some of the patients at my old job were on niacin. So many of them complained of the flushing - it's such a common side effect, yep. Awesome post, Gina!

    Your place looks awesome! And I agree, bleck to blinking lights!

  7. I am SO glad that you wrote about this product! I hate that it is being marketed as an easy pick me up without listing the risks. Great reporting!!!

  8. I've always wondered about 5-Hour Energy. Thanks for the review!

    Love the outside and inside of your house!

    I read that you were making pepperoni chocolate ice cream, and I thought, "Wow. She really likes pepperoni." Glad it's really peppermint chocolate ice cream... :)

    How exciting that you get to meet Cat Cora!

  9. I am bookmarking this post because I feel like a lot of people think it's ok to drink 5 hr energy multiple times per day! I completely agree with you on whole foods vs. synthetic vitamins...ugghhh.

    Love your holiday decorations!

  10. I am going send this link to my husband. Maybe he will take your word for it. (;

    Can you get too much B-12?? I take drops several times when I run a marathon. Just curious, I was told the body will eliminate what it doesn't need...

    Thanks for posting this!

  11. The tree looks great- totally agree about flashing lights. I didn't even like it when Eric and I discovered our candles for the windows flashed a bit (it was supposed to be like flickering haha). Eric's mom got us new one thank goodness!

    I don't believe in drinks like that. Water for me :)

  12. I think I'll stick with my favorite energy drink: COFFEE!! ;-)

  13. once again, you nailed it, and helped me to have some good information to back up my opinion of the stuff. half a bottle is a serving? who knew?
    to be fair, from time to time (twice a month?) i'll drink a sugar free or carb free rockstar. i use it as a treat. the empty can on my desk (i really need to clean it off) is also 2 servings per 16oz can. 1 serving contains 2mg of B6.
    thanks for the rockin post; i blinking lights.

  14. Cat Cora..That's exciting! Please take pictures.

    With my reducing energy during my prelim preparation, I had serious thoughts of trying 5 hour energy. But after reading the side effects I did not.

  15. Yes, I saw that, but what exactly is neuropathy and flushing of the skin? Sorry, should’ve been more specific in asking you my question, but does flushing of the skin just mean redness?
    P.S. Love the decorations!

  16. Great follow up post. I have an issue with products with too many B vitamins. People think that the water soluble vitamins should be safe since you can pee out the excess, but as you mentioned, some cause problems. I have had niacin toxicity before and it is not fun nor a pretty experience. I think people miss out on how energy comes from these things, because it is not energy like calories, which in my opinion is the only real energy because I am talking science and not physical feeling, but rather that this is because B vitamins are important parts of the metabolism of the macronutrients, so if you are deficient in these, you will have a hard time getting the actual energy out of the food you eat...more or less. Plus throw in the caffeine and/or ginseng and too much of that can effect the heart significantly. But, people will still continue to use products like these.

    Great job decorating. I bet you are both very excited for your first Christmas in your new home.

  17. I just caught a word of Nicole's comment about in dialysis with the niacin, and I am not sure, but it may have had to do with the principles of niacin to dilate blood vessels and improve circulation (I have Reynauds and that is how I wound up taking too much niacin once), or it may have been because niacin is one that comes up for cholesterol lowering properties (or was it HTN...hmmm, I've been out of clinical for too darn long).

  18. You bring up such a great point about the B vitamins. I have never taken 5 hour energy but know of a few people who have.
    I agree with you..would much rather get my vitamins through food!

  19. Great post! I'm an RD from SWMO and love your straight forward, practical posts!
    Keep up the great work!

  20. Many many active duty men take this product and "swear" by it...those and RockStars and Red Bulls. I am wondering if part of it is a placebo effect as well. The saddest thing for me is THE PRICE tag! Think of all the dough you'd save if you didn't buy 10 of these a week.
    That gives a whole new spin on "there's starving kids in Africa" ones that don't have toothbrushes, and you choose to spend your money on.......what?
    In this holiday season...I think we should take a look at that in the "name of health" as well...
    and those lights make me feel so peaceful. And proud...your new home is so HOMEY! Can I come over to dinner?

  21. My step-son used to live on those, not sure if he drinks them any more though.

    I remember Nicole's husbands guest post about them - I guess if you get enough sleep I am not sure why you would need it in the first place!

    Your decorations are so pretty - I haven't even started mine yet!

  22. Ha! If I wanted energy, I would go out for a brief run, do some jumping jacks, gulp down coffee, munch on Skittles.

  23. it is unforunate when people think they don't have to eat fruits/veggies because they take a pill. that's what we were designed to eat. wouldn't you WANT to eat something natural vs. something manufactured??

    on a brighter side note, your living room looks awesome. :)

  24. Your living room is very cute! Those 5 hour energy things creep me out! A lot of my students take them :|

  25. WOW... I've never looked at the ingredients for one of these - scary!! Those high levels are potentially dangerous, just as you said! Good heavens! Scary! I'll stick with my fruits and veggies and coffee and tea too... :-)

    Your holiday lights and tree are GORGEOUS!!! :-) And wow, I'm soooooo excited to hear about Cat Cora's visit!!! Soooooo Cool!!! *insert me clapping hands with enthusiasm* :-)

  26. Interesting - I've taken in three of these total now before big races. 2 marathons and an Olympic triathlon. I never really looked into the ingredient list that much since I didn't see anything that stuck out to my limited brain.

    Is there anything else that you could suggest to take? I'd like to get it from food only but the thought of eating a ton of fruit and veggies before an endurance race is hard on my stomach.

  27. Im a strong believer that energy should come from NATURAL sources like actual food, exercise or even coffee. I wouldn't spend a dime on that 5-hour energy drink. Sounds too artificial to me. I've seen it before at local stores and had bad suspicions about it. Your post just confirmed my thoughts :)

  28. I've never tried it, and thanks to your informative post, it makes sense for me to try out other means to get those energy boosts when needed.

  29. Keep posting stuff like this i really like it

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  31. Of course he would pull it out to get a rise out of you and Nicole. What a silly guy.

    My husband has a 5-hour energy sitting around that at some point he wants to try just to see if it does anything. Me - I wouldn't want to try it I don't think.

    Your lights look great Gina!

  32. Great information! I’ve been looking for something like this for a while now. Thanks!

  33. I'm so glad you posted this. My husband was buying whole cases of these at BJ's Wholesale. He's not drank any lately, but who knows when he will again. I'm gonna have him read you post. thanks!

  34. oh, and I just linked to this post of yours on my right sidebar. Gonna Facebook it, too. Rock on!

  35. Love, love your holiday lights! And the husband loves your pepperoni bread!