Here's What's Actually Inside A 5-Hour Energy Drink

The FDA is reporting that more than 30 cases have been filed since 2009 involving serious injuries caused by the energy drink. So what's in this darn thing?

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The New York Times this week ran a story about the possible dangers of 5-Hour Energy

"Since 2009, 5-Hour Energy has been mentioned in some 90 filings with the F.D.A., including more than 30 that involved serious or life-threatening injuries like heart attacks, convulsions and, in one case, a spontaneous abortion, a summary of F.D.A. records reviewed by The New York Times showed."

But according to 5-Hour Energy's website, most of the drink's ingredients are relatively harmless.

The key ingredients in 5-hour ENERGY® are also available in every day foods – like broccoli, avocados, bananas and apples – or already in you. It contains zero sugar, four calories and as much caffeine as a cup of the leading premium coffee.

1. Taurine

A synthetic version of a chemical commonly found in bile, most notably bull bile, from which it got its name, taurine helps skin hydration, teeth, and hair follicles, along with delivering many other nutritional benefits. Ironically, the amount of taurine in most energy drinks is far below the amount that would be therapeutic or dangerous.

3. Tyrosine

It's a chemical that in addition to being used in photosynthesis is also found in many high-protein foods, like chicken, fish, peanuts, avocados, milk, cottage cheese, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, bananas, and soy products. A number of medical studies have found that in certain doses it can be used to help treat cold and fatigue and help reduce stress hormones.

4. Phenylalanine

Phenylalanine is found in breast milk and sold as a dietary supplement to combat pain and depression. It actually works inside the body with tyrosine to produce dopamine, adrenaline, and build skin pigmentation.

5. Glucuronolactone

During the Vietnam War, glucuronolactone became infamous for a rumor that it was developed by the American government and then banned due to side effects that gave people who ingested it brain tumors. In reality, though, it's actually just naturally occurring chemical found in most human connective tissue and various plant fiber.

6. Citicoline


This incredibly common over-the-counter supplement has a bevy of different medicinal uses. It helps memory retention in rats afflicted with Alzheimer's. In Japan and Europe it's approved treatment for head trauma and stroke. It improves the visual effects of glaucoma patients. It has also been know to reduce cocaine dependency. It increases glucose metabolism and has an incredibly low level of toxicity. At the worst, it'll give you some diarrhea.

7. Niacin

Originally discovered and used as a way to fight black tongue, it's a B vitamin with a very low toxicity level, and it's pretty darn good for you. A deficiency of niacin causes a condition called pellagra, and you don't want to know what it does to you.

8. Folic acid

Used mainly in the synthesis and reparation of DNA, this acid helps fight heart disease, improves chromosomal quality in sperm, and can reduce risk of stroke. Also, certain cancers love folic acid, so many anti-cancer treatments attempt to remove a cancer's source. It's also currently theorized that it plays an important role in aging.

9. Vitamin B12

This is a water-soluble vitamin that helps with brain function and the nervous system. Plants and animals can't naturally produce it, and its only source is from various bacteria. It's the largest and most complicated vitamin, and it doesn't occur naturally. Vitamin B12 is a supplement given to vegans and vegetarians, along with lactating women, but its primary use is in the treatment of cyanide poisoning. Excessive alcohol use can cause a depletion, which would explain why 5-Hour Energy feels so nice after a hangover.

10. Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is found in meats, whole grain products, vegetables, nuts, and bananas. A deficiency can cause ulcers and conjunctivitis, among other health issues. Interestingly, adverse effects from vitamin B6 don't occur naturally, only in supplements. Large doses taken for too long can have a detrimental effect on your spinal nerve tissue.

11. Caffeine

Everyone on the planet knows what caffeine is and where it comes from. But here are a few adverse effects when consumed in excess: jitters, physical dependence, mania, nervousness, irritability, restlessness, insomnia, headaches, and heart palpitations. It also has a lot of health benefits in treatment for various cancers, headaches and migraines, and vascular disorders, and it maybe helps liver function.

How much caffeine is in 5-Hour Energy versus a cup of coffee?

•An eight-ounce cup of coffee contains anywhere from 100 to 150 milligrams of caffeine.
•The caffeine content of a full bottle of 5-Hour Energy is 207 mg.