Stimulants – Overview

What do you know about stimulants like energy drinks, coffee, and more? In this series, we cover stimulant ingredients and the safety of stimulants.

What are stimulants?

Stimulants refer to a wide variety of drugs and compounds that can boost mood, increase one's ability to focus, and improve vigor and sociability. Some stimulants have ergogenic effects, meaning they can enhance performance. 
 
We can find stimulants in prescribed medications, foods, beverages, dietary supplements, and other human-madeSubscribe for weekly updates_ go.msu.edu_cris-connect substances.

Are stimulants legal?

Many stimulants like caffeine, dietary supplements, and prescribed medications are legal when used as directed. 
 
Other natural and human-made stimulants like cocaine, methamphetamine, and more are illegal, addictive, and can cause great bodily harm when illegally produced and consumed. 

What are common stimulant ingredients found in foods, beverages & dietary supplements? 

In this series, we'll focus on ingredients found in foods, beverages, and dietary supplements that many believe to be stimulants, including:

  • B-complex vitamins 
  • Caffeine
  • Carnitine
  • Ginseng
  • Guarana
  • Taurine 

You can find many of these ingredients in coffee, teas, energy drinks, soda pops, drink flavor enhancers, chocolate, and dietary supplements like caffeine pills. 

Are stimulants found in foods, beverages & dietary supplements regulated by the FDA?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates and approves stimulant ingredients if they meet the safety criteria of Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) ingredients or dietary supplements
 
Therefore, manufacturers are responsible for ensuring the stimulant ingredients found in foods, beverages, and dietary supplements are pure and safe for consumption when taken and ingested as directed. 

What happens if a stimulant found in food, beverages, or dietary supplements causes harm?

When a stimulant ingredient found in food, beverages, or dietary supplements causes harm to human health, especially when combined with other commonly used stimulant ingredients the FDA works to ensure it's no longer available for sale.

Are all stimulants found in foods, beverages & dietary supplements the same?

No, all stimulants are not the same. Our bodies will react in many ways depending on the stimulant exposed to our system. The body's reaction will vary greatly depending on the exposure routedose, and dose-rate
 
Additionally, stimulant ingredients interact with different molecules and receptors in our body. These interactions can determine the way our bodies respond to the stimulant ingredient.  

The good news. 

Stimulant ingredients have been part of our diets for more than 100 years. While we've recently found new ways to safely incorporate stimulant ingredients into the foods, beverages, and supplements in our lives, we're still learning the impact these ingredients may have on our bodies. 
 
Learning more about these ingredients allows us to make informed decisions regarding the foods, beverages, and supplements we choose to consume.

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