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Mace & Crown | April 22, 2018

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Caffine: Part of our College DNA?

For students, there is so much to do with so little time. Let’s face it, the average college student procrastinates and waits until the very last night to get all the work done that they need for the next day. With the pressure of multiple eight to ten page papers breathing down your neck, and the possibility of a lab or exam to prepare for, you have no choice but give your body that little extra push to avoid falling asleep.

College students turn to loading up on caffeine for the energy needed to stay up throughout the night and avoid their academic demise. If you’ve tried this approach before, you already know that the jitters and headaches that come from excessive caffeine usage are no fun. Loading caffeine in your diet is only a temporary fix for a long-term problem.

So, first we should identify the usual suspects when it comes to student caffeine usage. Coffee is the go-to drink for those living both the college life and the busy working life. Coffee is hot, often comforting, very cheap and loaded with enough caffeine to keep you up through the night. A typical cup of coffee has between 80 and 120 milligrams of caffeine. Other popular culprits with like caffeine amounts include sodas, tea, caffeine pills and energy drinks like Red Bull. These only help provide a temporary fix to your fatigue.

Why do I need to worry about caffeine and my health, especially if it gets the job done for now? The problem with energy drinks is they have added sugar and added calories. These ingredients can ultimately result in weight gain. Users should also be aware of other ingredients in certain pills, energy drinks and sodas that lack any nutritional substance.  Doctor’s almost always recommend you stay away from these sugary pick-me-ups.

Even with tea, drinkers need to be mindful that bottled sweet teas contain little to no antioxidants compared to freshly brewed green or black tea. They also contain sugar, which can lead to obesity and tooth decay. Bottled teas and sodas may also contain high fructose corn syrup, which is acidic and can also contribute to tooth decay.

Bottom line, too much caffeine over-stimulates your body, resulting in a number of short-term symptoms like the jitters, headaches, heart palpitations, insomnia, shaking or trembling, rapid heart rate, and upset stomach. The symptoms of too much caffeine are very obvious. When your heart starts racing, your hands begin to shake, and you can’t concentrate on the book in front of you, it’s definitely time to cut the caffeine.

Too much caffeine can also cause long-term negative health effects, including excess acid production in the stomach that can lead to stomach pain, abdominal pain and reflux disease. Too much caffeine can be dangerous for students who may have heart arrhythmias. It is also very dangerous to consume caffeine for the purpose of seeking an energy boost for exercise. When the human body mixes the heat from exercise and ingestion of caffeine, the result can literally be as serious as a heart attack.

Students should drink caffeinated beverages in moderation, if at all. There are other solutions for getting the extra boost. Fruits and vegetables aren’t instant sources of energy but can provide vitalization for less fatigue. Proper hydration is also a great way to fight fatigue. Average or moderate caffeine intake is about 300 mg, or about three cups of coffee each day. If you drink caffeinated beverages, be smart about it and always check the labels to see how much caffeine you’re getting.

Facts from The American Medical Association were used in this article.

By: Charles Ordoqui

Assistant News Editor

  • Students are clearly increasing their caffeine consumption (coffee, energy drinks, mints, what else?) and I find it dangerous. Don’t get me wrong: for me coffee and caffeine have more benefits than risks when taken in moderation by adults:
    But not by students! For caffeine as for many natural products, a little is a health-promoter but a lot is a health-negative. It is even worse when young people add alcohol to caffeine: they get the hyperactivity from an energy drink with caffeine plus the disinhibition from the alcohol. For me it is not reasonable to target young people with these new products where caffeine and alcohol are mixed, this could lead to very dangerous behaviors that could have been avoided. You will not prevent young people to be young 🙂 but for moral reasons we should avoid tempting them with dangerous products.
    Cheers, Mike