This article discusses the potential side effects of Red Bull. It also addresses whether excessive consumption could cause serious health problems.
Red Bull: What does it mean?
Red Bull was first sold in Austria in 1987.
Red Bull’s exact composition is different for each country. However, other ingredients include carbonated water, baking soda and citric acid.
Two 8.4-ounce (260ml) cans provide (2Trusted Source).
Protein: 1.2 grams
Fat: 0 grams
Caffeine: 75 mg
It also contains a lot of B vitamins such as thiamine (B1) and riboflavin(B2), niacin, B3, B6, and B12 (2TrustedSource).
Red Bull also offers sugar-free options such as Red Bull Zero or Red Bull Sugar free. These are made with artificial sweeteners aspartame, acesul fame, and k (Trusted Source).
Red Bull’s ingredients may give you an energy boost, but they can also have side effects in the short- and longer-term, especially if taken in large quantities.
Red Bull can cause side effects
Although Red Bull is still a popular drink, new research shows that it can have a negative impact on your health.
Can raise blood pressure and heart beat
Two important indicators of heart health are blood pressure and heart rate. Higher levels have been linked to higher risks of hypertension (higher blood pressure) or heart disease (5Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source).
Numerous studies have shown that Red Bull cans, 12 ounces (355 ml), significantly increase blood pressure and heart rate in healthy adults (6TrustedSource, 7TrustedSource, 8TrustedSource, 9TrustedSource).
Red Bull’s caffeine content is thought to have contributed to the rise in blood pressure and heart rate. A 12-ounce Red Bull can (355 ml) contains 108 mg caffeine. This is about the same caffeine level as a cup coffee (2TrustedSource, 10TrustedSource, 11TrustedSource).
Red Bull consumption is not likely to cause heart disease in healthy people despite these rises.
However, excessive intake, especially in young people, has been linked with abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and even death (11TrustedSource, 12, 13TrustedSource).
Red Bull consumption can also cause heart disease and death, even though research is limited.
Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
Your risk of developing type 2 diabetes may be increased by excessive sugar intake, particularly from sweetened drinks (14TrustedSource).
A review of 310,819 adults revealed that consuming 1-2 cups of sugar-sweetened beverages per week was associated with a 26% increase in type 2 diabetes risk (14Trusted Source).
Red Bull has 29 grams of sugar per 8.4-ounce (260ml) serving. Drinking one or more Red Bulls daily could increase your risk for type 2 diabetes (2TrustedSource).
Could cause damage to your teeth
Research has shown that acidic drinks can cause tooth enamel to wear, which is the protective outer layer that protects your teeth from decay (15Trusted Source).
Red Bull is an acidic drink. Red Bull can cause damage to your teeth enamel (16Trusted Source).
A 5-day study in a test tube found that human tooth enamel was irreversibly damaged by energy drinks being exposed for 15 minutes four times per day (17Trusted Source).
The study also found that energy drinks are twice as damaging to enamel than soft drinks (17Trusted source).
Could have a negative impact on kidney health
Although Red Bull may not have any adverse effects on your kidney health, it is possible to consume excessive amounts of the drink occasionally. However, there are studies that suggest this could be true.
Red Bull consumption may lead to a decline of kidney function in rats after a 12-week experiment. These results were not replicated in human studies (18).
Research also shows a link between high sugar intake, chronic kidney disease risk, and increased risk (19TrustedSource, 20TrustedSource, 21TrustedSource).
Red Bull has a high sugar content, so you should be careful about drinking it too often.
High-risk behaviors may increase
Red Bull consumption has been linked to increased risk behavior in high-risk groups, particularly when it is combined with alcohol (1Trusted source).
Red Bull’s caffeine can be combined to make you feel less drunk, while still experiencing alcohol-related impairments (22TrustedSource, 23TrustedSource, 24TrustedSource).
This can lead to serious consequences.
One study showed that college students who had drank energy drinks with alcohol were more likely than those who consumed alcohol alone to drive drunk and cause serious alcohol-related injuries.
Even if energy drinks are not mixed with alcohol, studies have shown that young adults who consume Red Bull regularly are at greater risk for alcohol dependence and drug abuse (22TrustedSource, 26TrustedSource, 27TrustedSource).
Red Bull is not for everyone. It’s important to be aware that there are potential risks, particularly for younger adults, and alcohol.
Caffeine overdose and possibly toxic effects.
Although safe doses of caffeine can vary from person to person, current research suggests that healthy adults should consume no more than 400mg per day (28Trusted Source).
Red Bull contains 75 mg of caffeine in a small, 8.4-ounce (260ml) can. Drinking more than 5 Red Bull cans per day can increase your risk of overdose (2Trusted source).
The average half-life of caffeine is 1.5 to 9.5 hours. This means that it can take up to 9.5 hours for your caffeine levels to drop to half its original level (29Trusted Source).
It’s difficult to know how much Red Bull is causing caffeine overdose.
A higher risk of side effects from caffeine may also be present in adolescents younger than 19 years of age (30Trusted Source).
Current guidelines recommend that adolescents aged 12-19 limit caffeine intake to 100mg or less daily. Red Bull should not be consumed in excess of one 8.4 ounce (260 ml) serving. This could increase the risk for caffeine overdose in this age bracket (28Trusted Source).
The symptoms of caffeine overdose or toxicity include nausea, vomiting and hallucinations.
Red Bull without sugar is healthier
Sugar-free Red Bull has fewer calories and sugar, but the same amount caffeine as regular Red Bull. This means that it is likely to have the same side effects (32TrustedSource).
Red Bull, which is sugar-free, does not contain sugar. However, if you drink it regularly, you may be at risk for type 2 diabetes. It contains aspartame K and acesulfame K, artificial sweeteners.
Research has shown that regular consumption of artificial sweeteners is associated with increased type 2 diabetes risk. It also comes with its own safety concerns and side effects (33TrustedSource, 34TrustedSource, 35TrustedSource).
Red Bull can cause life-threatening problems if consumed in excess
Although rare, the excessive consumption of Red Bull or similar energy drinks has been linked with heart attacks and death. These cases were most common in young adults who consumed energy drinks in large quantities (13TrustedSource, 28TrustedSource, 36, 37TrustedSource, 38TrustedSource, 39TrustedSource).
There are many factors that can affect the amount of caffeine you need to avoid being dangerous or even life-threatening.
Current recommendations recommend that caffeine intake be limited to 400mg per day for healthy adults. However, most cases of caffeine-related death have been seen in people who consume 3-5 grams per day.
This would mean that you could drink approximately 40 8.4-ounce (260ml) Red Bull cans in one day.
However, many people who suffered sudden death or heart attacks from energy drinks drank just 3-8 cans per day, far less than 40 cans.
A recent study of 34 healthy adults showed that 32-ounces (946ml) Red Bull per day for 3 days led to significant improvements in the interval between heartbeats. (39Trusted Source).
Certain types of arrhythmias can result from a change in the heartbeat rhythm. This is especially true for those who have high blood pressure or are suffering from heart disease (39Trusted source).
Researchers also claim that the changes in heart rhythm are not due to caffeine alone, but rather to the combination of ingredients in Red Bull 39Trusted Source.
Further research is required to determine how the ingredients interact with each other and whether they can increase heart attack risk. Red Bull should be avoided by pregnant women, children, heart-related patients, and caffeine-sensitive people.
The bottom line
Red Bull is a caffeinated, sugar-sweetened energy drink.
Alcohol consumption in excess can have life-threatening side effects.
Red Bull should be avoided by pregnant women, children, people with heart disease, and those who are sensitive to caffeine.
You may also find it high in sugar and low in nutritional value. Therefore, you might consider healthier options to boost your energy levels such as tea or coffee.