Hi, dfarrell-ga !
Following the deaths of an Irish student who had drunk three cans of
Red Ball after strenuous exercise, and three people in Sweden in 2001
who drank it combined with alcohol and/or exercise, the product came
under scrutiny. BBC Northern Ireland reported the recommendations of
the enquiry by the FSPB (Food Safety Protection Board - also referred
to as the Food Safety Promotion Board) which followed the death of the
Irish student, at:
"The report makes the following recommendations:
a) stimulant drinks should be labelled with an indication that they
are unsuitable for children (under 16 years of age), pregnant women
and individuals sensitive to caffeine
b) they should be classified with other beverages of high caffeine
c) the consumption of stimulant drinks by children under 16 years
should be discouraged
d) caution should be exercised in the consumption of stimulant drinks
e) they should not be consumed in association with sport and exercise
as a thirst quencher
f) they are unsuitable rehydration agents for use in sport and during
In a BBC article on the Swedish deaths at:
"Catherine Collins, of the British Dietetic Association, said: '
There's been quite a lot of research looking at are (sic) the effects
of Red Bull on the heart and circulation.
And they have shown that if you take sufficient Red Bull, and other
drinks that are performance enhancing, you can lower blood pressure
and that may be the cause of the problem.' "
In May 29 2001 Elizabeth Cohen of CNN medical unit wrote an article
which is posted at:
"The drinks contain vitamins, amino acids, a large dose of sugar and
about as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. It's a formula that
concerns people like Liz Applegate, a sports nutritionist at the
University of California at Davis.
Applegate maintains the boost comes mainly from caffeine. And that,
she says makes energy drinks a bad idea for athletes.
"Even though they're labeled 'energy drinks,' they should not be
consumed during exercise," she said. "They have caffeine, and they're
too concentrated in sugar. That's going to slow the body's ability to
absorb water." "
Red Bull contains caffeine, taurine and glucuronolactone. The ill
effects of excess caffeine consumption are very well known, but people
vary in their tolerance for it. Some people are ultra sensitive to
drinks containing caffeine and should probably avoid it altogether:. A
clear discussion on its use from the student health department of
Oregon State University can be found at:
It considers caffeine to be an addictive substance.
Taurine is an amino acid which some providers are marketing as a
nutritional supplement. Klaire laboratories make some claims at:
"Recently, there have been human-based studies that have provided
insight into possible therapeutic applications of taurine. Taurine may
play a role in several medical conditions such as congestive heart
failure, psoriasis, reperfusion injuries, and pulmonary fibrosis.
Initial studies using patients undergoing coronary artery bypass
surgery appear to suggest that taurine treatment (5 grams, intravenous
administration) just prior to surgery reduced cell damage and lipid
peroxidation during the reperfusion period. Taurine has no
demonstrated toxicity, even when taken in large doses (>3 gram/day)
for many weeks. These reports indicate that oral supplementation of
taurine may be effective as a safe, non-toxic agent in supporting
immunological and antioxidative cellular mechanisms. "
They make it clear that the research is new, and their statements have
not been evaluated by the FDA.
A short article by Andrew Beer and Ben Cockbain - Hertford College,
Oxford called "Taurine - gives you wings?" is at:
"At times of extreme physical exertion, the body no longer produces
the required amounts of taurine, and a relative deficiency results.
Taurine acts as a metabolic transmitter and additionally has a
detoxifying effect and strengthens cardiac contractility. While
taurine does not have a genetic codon and is not incorporated into
proteins and enzymes, it does play an important role in bile acid
metabolism. Taurine is incorporated into one of the most abundant bile
acids, chenodeoxychloic acid where it serves to emulsify dietary
lipids in the intestine, promoting digestion. "
The rumour that glucuronolactone caused serious health problems is
debunked by Snopes at:
An general article on energy drinks by Rhonda Rohrabacher on MedServe
She writes: "Glucuronolactone is produced in the human liver and helps
detox the body while one's metabolism is raised by the accompanying B
vitamins and taurine. "
In summary, one Red Bull a day is unlikely to do much harm unless you
are particularly sensitive to caffeine. More than that and you should
look at your overall caffeine consumption. Keep in mind not a lot is
known yet about long term effects of Taurine as a supplement. It's
probably not wise to combine Red Bull with alcohol, or to rely on it
to re-hydrate you during or after exercise.
If you are worried, please see your doctor or a health professional.
For your further interest Amy Scott, a journalism student, published
an article in which she interviewed various people about Red Bull at:
This paints an interesting picture of the Red Bull consumer.
"Red Bull Health"