Overdoing the 5-Hour Energy Shot Thing

MSNBC.com’s the Body Odd section contains an interesting story of grotesque excess. They relate the medical case  of a 22-year-old woman who presented the symptoms of liver failure and acute hepatitis. However:

The staff checked her for viruses, alcohol and drugs. Nothing. Then the woman revealed a key part of her diet over the previous two weeks: 10 bottles of 5-Hour Energy per day.   

That’s, um, a lot. If you just look at the caffeine component (the actual ingredient that provides the ‘energy boost’ regardless of the advertising claims), she was drinking approximately 10 cups of coffee per day, every day for two weeks. That alone would make you feel pretty awful.

However, where did the liver problems come from?

Doctors believe the woman overdosed on one ingredient: niacin — also called vitamin B3 — which can damage the liver when ingested in high amounts. She was successfully treated and discharged after her symptoms vanished.

I think this information is key. Despite the fact that there are advocates for megadosing on vitamin products, there is a danger of overdosing. In some cases, megadoses of vitamines will pass out of your body with the rest of your waste … no harm (except to your wallet) done. But other times it might actually do something like damage your liver. Ouch.

Frankly, I’ll stick with my two cups of coffee in the morning. Or if I need an afternoon boost: 5 whiskey shots.

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