A healthy 50 year-old man developed liver inflammation (non-viral hepatitis) after consuming energy drinks, according to a case report published BMJ Case Reports.
He had no personal or family history of liver disease, no medications, no changes in diet or use of alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drugs, no recent tattoos, blood transfusions, or high-risk sexual behavior.
He was in good health — until he started consuming energy drinks. As a construction worker, he used them to get through his labor-intensive workday. He got sick after drinking 4-5 cans per day for three weeks.
The man thought he had the flu based on symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, lack of appetite, and generally feeling unwell. He only became alarmed after developing dark-colored urine and jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes).
He went to the emergency room and was diagnosed with acute hepatitis, a non-viral disease that causes sudden inflammation of the liver.
His doctors were initially perplexed. He tested positive for Hepatitis C, a virus that causes liver disease, but the infection occurred years ago. His liver biopsies showed inflammation due to toxins, and not a virus.
Blood tests revealed a major clue — Vitamin B12 and folic acid levels that “exceeded quantifiable limits,” according to the report.
Each drink contained 40mg of niacin, or 200% of the recommended daily value. He was consuming 160-200mg of niacin per day. In excess, niacin can accumulate in the liver and become toxic.
The man improved rapidly when he stopped consuming energy drinks. His symptoms were gone within three days. He went home on day six.
Even ‘all-natural’ supplements can be toxic in large amounts, the researchers warned:
Vitamins and nutrients, such as niacin, are present in quantities that greatly exceed the recommended daily intake, leading to their high risk for harmful accumulation and toxicity.”
In another case report, a 22 year-old female developed acute hepatitis after consuming 10 energy drinks per day for two weeks. Her illness was blamed on a daily intake of 300mg of niacin.
Source: CNN Health