Can Severe Hepatitis be Caused by Niacin
A man developed severe hepatitis – and doctors say that it was caused by Niacin in energy drinks
Is it true that energy drinks can cause you to overdose on Niacin?
According to a news story that was published on gizmodo.com, a man developed severe hepatitis after drinking an excessive number of energy drinks per day… and the doctors said that the Niacin in the drinks may have been to blame.
Here are the details of the story.
The facts behind the story
The man, a 50-year old construction worker, claims that he started consuming energy drinks (the exact brand wasn’t shared) to give him more energy and to help him through his very physically-demanding workday. He started drinking 4 to 5 per day, but didn’t make any other changes to his diet or eating habits.
He soon became unusually fatigued. Then, the fatigue turned into abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. Eventually, his symptoms worsened. He developed dark-colored urine, and his skin began to turn yellow – indicating jaundice.
At this point, he went to the emergency room.
What did the doctors say?
After an examination, the doctors confirmed that the man was suffering from jaundice, and that he was indeed experiencing abdominal tenderness. Lab results also showed that he tested high in levels of transaminases – which are liver enzymes indicative of a chronic hepatitis infection.
He then got a biopsy of his liver done – and this confirmed it. The man had developed severe hepatitis.
But what caused it? Was it the energy drinks?
The doctors believed that the man’s hepatitis was indeed triggered by the energy drinks he was consuming – and they also believed that niacin might have been the key ingredient that factored into it.
Altogether, the man was consuming about 160 to 200 mg of Niacin on a daily basis – which is actually below the levels that usually cause any sort of toxicity. But the doctors said that the problem could have been caused by the accumulation effect that came from having so much vitamin B3 introduced into his system at once.
Is something else in the drinks to blame, or was it the Niacin?
Everyone knows that energy drinks have been in the spotlight as a potential health hazard. They generally contain very high levels of their active ingredients, and many of them include super-high dosages of Niacin. Rockstar, Monster, and Red Bull are all brands that contain Vitamin B3.
An article posted on caffeineinformer.com, does a pretty good job of outlining the basic fears about energy drinks in-general.
It reports that energy drinks, when consumed in low amounts, contain less caffeine than a cup of specialty coffee.
But the problems start when people begin to drink more than one during the day.
Some negative effects of excessive energy-drink consumption could include cardiac arrest, headaches/migraines, anxiety, insomnia, type 2 Diabetes (because of the high sugar content), jitters, nervousness, and allergic reactions.
But a Niacin overdose is also listed as a potential negative side effect.
Here is what the article says about the ingredient and how it pertains to energy drink consumption…
“Niacin (Vitamin B3) is placed in most energy drinks at levels that cause no harm and can even be therapeutic. However, if a person is taking additional supplements containing Niacin, overdosing on the vitamin is possible when consuming energy drinks in addition to those supplements.”
There is also a quote on the website that says this…
“Heavy consumption of energy drinks may result in excessive consumption of B vitamins, such as niacin or pyridoxine, and may result in liver or nerve injury.”
So, what’s the verdict? Is Niacin really to blame?
As you likely well know, Niacin is a necessary vitamin that the human body needs to survive and thrive. In fact, a deficiency of Niacin causes the disease Pellagra, which is very dangerous and destructive.
But is it possible to overdose on Niacin through energy drinks?
It would seem that this is definitely a possibility. Obviously, there might be more factors at work than just the vitamin B3… but in regards to its presence in energy drinks, it might be best to stick to one or less per day, just to avoid problems – especially if you are taking a Niacin supplement as well.