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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Caffeine could be unhealthy jolt

Many students at the UA can be found lining up all hours of the day at Starbucks for their daily caffeine fix.

Caffeine is considered to be the most popular and commonly used drug in the world because it is found naturally in many different plants, drinks and foods, according to the National Sleep Foundation and the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Caffeine improves concentration due to a stimulant effect, according to a 2005 preliminary study conducted by the American Public Health Association on caffeine consumption among college students. The study also found overconsumption of caffeine can cause physical and psychological impairment.

Every year, Americans consume an average of 90,700 milligrams of caffeine, according to visualeconomics.com.

Students may not be aware of the caffeine levels inside the many drinks they consume each day.

Gale Welter, a registered dietitian and the coordinator of nutrition services at Campus Health Service, said it is recommended that people consume no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day. By comparison, a tall, regular coffee at Starbucks contains an average of 375 milligrams of caffeine.

If consumers drink more than the suggested amount per day, they can develop a tolerance for caffeine and not feel the effects as easily, according to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. For example, someone with caffeine tolerance may still be able to fall asleep after drinking coffee.

Welter said caffeine could have negative side effects such as anxiousness, elevated blood pressure and irregular heartbeats. Caffeine can also have positive effects such as increased alertness, improved cognitive functioning and a feeling of wakefulness.

For people trying to minimize their caffeine intake, taking gradual steps is recommended in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms, Welter said.

Welter said she had previously experienced the negative effects of drinking coffee.

“”I would get to a high and then suddenly crash, and then it was no good,”” she said. “”I mean, I just had to wait it out in order to focus, it was horrible.””

Welter said she has cut the caffine in every cup of coffee in half by mixing in decaf.

Studies conducted by Harvard Women’s Health Watch have shown that the risk of getting type-2 diabetes is lower for people who drink coffee regularly as opposed to those who do not drink it.

“”It’s a very individual thing because we all have different sensitivities to it,”” she said.

Some graduate students with teaching assistant shifts will drink a pot of coffee all day while they

work, Welter said.

“”Somehow Starbucks does something with theirs that makes it a lot more potent with their caffeine,”” she said.

It doesn’t take much for a person to become reliant on caffeine, Welter said.

Many studies have shown that caffeine causes physical dependencies, and people can suffer symptoms of caffeine withdrawal if they reduce or eliminate their caffeine consumption.

Kathryn Torres, a physiology senior, drinks an Americano or iced coffee every day. Though she likes the taste of coffee, she said she doesn’t get much sleep so she needs the caffeine.

“”I feel like sometimes I need something to get through studying,”” Torres said.

Rachel Martin, a journalism sophomore, drinks coffee or tea at least once a day because she needs the caffeine and enjoys the taste, she said.

“”I just drink it because it tastes good,”” said Anthony Burnette, a pre-pharmacy freshman.

Burnette said he doesn’t rely on coffee to stay awake or for the effects of caffeine.

Drinking coffee in moderation is considered safe and even beneficial to one’s health, according to Harvard Women’s Health Watch.

However, there are other alternatives to drinking coffee in order to stay energized and focused in school. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that having a regular sleep schedule is crucial to restoring energy in the body. Eating healthy, balanced snacks are also important for concentrating and remaining energized, according to Campus Health.

 

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