Is Red Bull Bad for You? Why You Shouldn’t Drink Energy Drinks

Learn how energy drinks can spike your blood pressure and cause other deleterious effects in your body.

energy drink dangers

A 2015 study found that after adults drank one 16-ounce can of an energy drink, the average systolic blood pressure of the participants increased by 6.2 percent.

© Andrey_A | iStock/GettyImages Plus

Energy drinks might be tempting when you’re tired but need to keep yourself alert. And to some, they might seem harmless. But are they safe? Is Red Bull bad for you? Or Monster? Or 5-Hour Energy? The medical community recommends that we don’t let such products become a regular habit. There’s growing evidence that these energy drinks can cause some significant harm in your body.

The Dangers of Energy Drinks

The answer to “Is Red Bull Bad for you?” is self-explanatory when you consider the following:

Drinking Just One Energy Drink Causes Elevated Blood Pressure

A 2015 study found that after adults drank one 16-ounce can of an energy drink, the average systolic blood pressure of the participants increased by 6.2 percent, while the average diastolic blood pressure increased by 6.8 percent.[1]

Additionally, norepinephrine levels increased by 74 percent after drinking the energy drink; elevated norepineprhine can cause changes in blood pressure, heart rate, and heart function.[1] The researchers conclude that the changes in blood pressure and norepinephrine levels may increase one’s chances of cardiovascular problems.

Is red bull bad for you

Is Red Bull bad for you? The research provides a definitive answer. (Photo: Dreamstime)

Other studies have found similar effects—that energy drinks lead to significant increases in blood pressure readings.[2]

Caffeine itself has blood-pressure-raising effects, which may partly explain why energy drinks are so dangerous when it comes to keeping blood pressure in the healthy range.[3] But studies show that energy drinks raise blood pressure by other mechanisms, too, different from caffeine alone.[4]

A study reported by the American Heart Association (AHA) found that energy drinks can increase blood pressure and cause changes in the heart’s electrical activity. Healthy young adults that drink 32 ounces of an energy drink had heart and blood pressure changes that were more than expected from the amount of caffeine. These dangers may be due to the addition of other stimulants added to caffeine. AHA recommends that anyone with a history of heart or blood pressure problems should avoid energy drinks.


The high caffeine levels in energy drinks are one reason that energy drinks are so bad for children, especially those with underlying heart conditions.[3]

Is Red Bull Bad for You? Yes—So Look for Energy from Other Sources

If you want to avoid the negative health effects of energy drinks, and especially if you have high blood pressure and want to protect you heart, stay away from products like Red Bull and 5-Hour Energy. Instead, look to natural alternatives for boosting your energy levels.

For starters, try an energy-boosting food to keep you alert instead. You also may want to use vitamins to increase your energy levels.


Originally published in 2015, this post is regularly updated.


[1] JAMA. 2015 Nov 8:1-3. [Epub ahead of print]
[2] Circulation. 2015;132:A12689.
[3] Pediatrics. 2011 Mar;127(3):511-28.
[4] Physiol Rep. 2015 Feb 25;3(2). pii: e12290.
[5] Energy drinks may provide jolt to heart, blood pressure | American Heart Association

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UHN Staff

University Health News is produced by the award-winning editors and authors of Belvoir Media Group’s Health & Wellness Division. Headquartered in Norwalk, Conn., with editorial offices in Florida, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, … Read More

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