Obviously, energy drinks aren't new to us, you are probably one of the millions of consumer who rely on it to have a great day feeling like a superhero lol. That's not bad at all, I do take energy drinks occasionally and it really does feel great.
Though it seems like it, energy drinks aren't a discovery of recent times, it's been around for over centuries now and it has evolved over time.
Now energy drinks are basically made of stimulant drugs, including caffeine and other vitamins but then its whole idea kinda tricks the body and that's how we get to stay mentally alert. We would see more of that later though. Now, what if I told you there was a time energy drinks gave real energy boast? yea you guessed right I mean like radioactive energy scary right?
In the early 1900s energy drinks contained radioactive substance even though some didn't actually contain any radioactive substance they claim to do so in order to stay relevant in the market. The most notorious of those drinks was the famous RadiThor. Radithor was basically radium dissolved in water. Radium being a radioactive element, it releases radiant energy on every atomic decay.
At the time there was no real connection between the intake of radioactive substance and the perceived energy boost yet they continued to consume radium. It was also believed that aside from providing energy, RadiThor also cured a lot of ailments including arthritis, rheumatism, mental illnesses, stomach cancer, and impotence. Where the hell did all those come from? as there was little to prove that radium was such a lifesaver.
For the records in the early 1900s, there were a lot of radium-based products ranging from hand cleaners to chocolate bars, toothpaste, and even baby clothes I had to wonder if anything was radium free but for the purpose of this write up we lay emphasis on RadiThor.
There is no way you talk about RadiThor without making mention of it's most famous customer no other than the Pittsburgh golfer Eben Byers.
Beyers used RadiThor when he broke an arm for the first, even though there was no clinical connection suggesting that radium had therapeutic qualities I bet he loved how it felt and he soon became addicted to it and he went on consuming this radium-based energy drink in large quantities in the process.
He reportedly had an average of two bottles daily for over three years Wow! this guy must have been a living nuclear weapon lol. To cut the story short, over time the continuous ingestion of this radioactive substance had a great impact on his skeletal system because ingested radium gets into the bone. Holes were discovered in his skull, his teeth fell out and he suffered a variety of issues relating to the bone.
Eventually, Byers died on March 31, 1932, and was buried in a coffin lined with lead, this is to prevent the radiation from getting released from his bones.
Thirty-Three years later Robley Evans an MIT scientist exhumed the remains of Byer's to ascertain the amount of radium in his bones. Since it is known that radium has a half-life of 1,600 years, it was expected that Byers' remains should still contain the same amount of radiation as it did at the time of death which was 100,000 becquerel estimated based on consumption of RadiThor by Byer's as reported by Byers' himself before he died.
To Evans greatest surprise when Byers' remains were exhumed it was found out that it contained 225, 000 becquerel, indicating more than twice of the original estimate based on his consumption of RadiThor. It still not know why his remains would radiate so much though it is possible that Byers' record of his consumption was wrong or radium had a higher affinity for bones than Evans thought.
It quite unfortunate that in the early 1900s they toyed with radium not out of ignorance because at the time there was enough awareness of the dangers of radioactive substance especially radium. The medical community as far back as 1898 had carried out studies on the health effects of radium since Marie and Pierre discovered the radioactive metal. In the year 1914, a review which made up of 700 medical reports was published by Ernst Zueblin a medical professor. Most of the reports indicated that bone Necrosis which simply means the death of bone tissue due to lack of blood and Ulceration i.e bone ulcer are very common side effects of ingesting radium.
Fast forward to 2018, radioactive substances are totally a no-go area I mean we all know that not to mention trying to have a drink of it. Energy drinks today basically contains taurine, sugars, ginseng, B vitamin, Guarana and caffeine which is the major ingredients of all energy drinks. Note that these ingredients mentioned above are the most important ingredients in energy drinks.
Guarana is a plant in South America which contains a caffeine compound called guaranine. A gram of guarana is equivalent to 40 mg of caffeine you could see that adding caffeine and guarana to energy drinks simply implies adding caffeine and more caffeine that's right.
The RadiThor drink used in the early 1900s had radium as the main constituents while today we have caffeine in our energy drinks consisting a very high percentage. How good is caffeine to our system? how those it really get us to stay up active for longer hours? Let's find out.
Like most of us, I have had my lions share of caffeine am not kidding when I use the word "lions share" I have had a lot of caffeine although not consistently for a long period of time. At the time I was still in the university so in order to stay awake at night to read I resulted to the using Nescafe coffee and it worked flawlessly except for the slight headaches and restlessness I feel when it's effect begins to fade off.
Most times when I took the coffee in very high concentrations sometimes I didn't have the patience to use hot water so instead, I just took it raw gosh! it was so bitter but I could deal. I made sure I used it only when necessary though, especially during examination periods.
HOW DOES CAFFEINE GET US TO STAY AWAKE? BUT FIRST WHAT DOES ADENOSINE DO?
A few months ago I made a post on Understanding Sleep: Why You Should Always Have Enough Sleep in that post I talked about a chemical called adenosine that builds up in our blood which causes our muscle to relax and makes us feel sleepy. When caffeine gets in our blood it competes with this adenosine and thus tricks our brain to have us stay awake, yeah I like to call it a trick as I did earlier on.
Firstly, what causes adenosine buildup in our body? Adenosine is produced when organs or tissues are stressed by either physical work or intensive use of the brain this exactly why we accumulate adenosine as the day progresses.
In other words, adenosine is more like the by-product of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) I like to think of ATP as gas spent on the ethereum blockchain to process transactions.
So when ATP is spent by cells where energy consuming activities are taking place, adenosine is produced. I leave you to imagine how much cell transaction ATP gets to process daily and you can see why adenosine builds up daily hence the reason we get to feel sleepy in the first place. Once adenosine binds with enough of its receptor in the brain which is the A1 receptor the brain gets the signal that it's time to sleep. Now let's go back to the role of caffeine in all of this and how it actually competes with the adenosine to keep us awake all night long.
The role of caffeine in all of this is quite simple, remember I mentioned that adenosine binds to A1 receptors in the brain, and that signals the brain that it's time to sleep right? Great! it's important to note here that adenosine and caffeine have very similar molecular structure.
Now here is the trick, when caffeine gets in the body, having a similar structure to adenosine, it is able and in fact, it does act as though is it has bound with the A1 receptors whereas it just stands in the way so that adenosine wouldn't get to bound. This is why I called it a trick earlier on.
One might wonder since they actually compete to bind to these A1 receptors what if it's a 50:50? Well, then I would ask do you take coffee or any form of caffeine when you already feeling sleepy? At that point, it most likely wouldn't have much effect because for you to feel sleepy at all it means that most of the A1 receptors are occupied with adenosine leaving little or no A1 receptors for the caffeine bind with.
When we have our cup of coffee say early in the morning just before leaving for work, at that time, adenosine buildup in the blood would be very minimal and the caffeine could easily bind with the A1 receptors in the brain.
Have you met these guys who would tell you that no matter how much caffeine they take they could still sleep like a log? I personally used to think it not possible or maybe there is something they ain't doing right but No! it has a to do with their genetics and here is how.
CYP1A2 is an enzyme found in the liver whose job is to metabolize xenobiotic substances and that includes caffeine. The amount of CYP1A2 produced in the body varies individually depending on the individual CYP1A2 gene. This explains why some people can metabolise coffee faster than others.
Even though caffeine has it little side effects which are experienced as it begins to fade off the body they include headaches, dizziness, flu-like symptoms, irritability amongst others, it obviously far better than radium which was used in the early.
Daily caffeine consumption should not be more than 400mg a day because going above that may lead to nervousness, a faster heartbeat and even muscle tremors.
When energy drinks contained real (radioactive) energy