Energy drinks pose health risks to students

Edwive Seme/Staff Writer

It’s that time of the year again. Study rooms are occupied, the Green Library is filled, students are staying up longer than usual for academic purposes and final exams are right around the corner.

Students do their best to stay up with a cup of coffee, but when it’s not available or it isn’t doing the job, students turn to energy drinks, which seem to work for the time needed.

But what happens after all the rush is gone? How does it affect students in the long term?

Most students are attracted to energy drinks because of the advertised effects of providing them with temporary high energy and concentration; however, the components can be dangerous when these drinks are frequently consumed.

According to an article by FIU’s Student Health Services, there is no cap on the amount of caffeine and other supplements in energy drinks, so “levels may not be safe for daily, frequent or even sporadic consumption.”

Some ingredients that energy drinks contain are guarana, taurine and ginseng. Each of these ingredients can have their own adverse effect. For example, guarana can cause insomnia, anxiety and chest pain. Ginseng can also cause insomnia, breast tenderness and heart palpitations. However, the amount of these ingredients added to energy drinks isn’t high enough to cause these adverse effects. They become dangerous when mixed with caffeine and high doses of sugar which can cause obesity and diabetes.

In small doses, caffeine can be healthy and can act as an antioxidant, giving a boost of energy and help with focusing. But when used in high quantities and mixed with other products, such as in soft drinks and energy drinks, it becomes dangerous in the long run.

According to an article by the Journal of the American Medical Association, some energy drinks can contain up to 250 mg of caffeine per serving.

According to Adriana Campa, associate professor in Dietetics & Nutrition at the University, when used in high doses, it can become an addictive drug; the more people consume drinks containing high levels of caffeine, the more they develop the need to always have these drinks.

“In the long term, you get addicted,” said Campa, “and you can’t even function well without it.”

Also, large amounts do the opposite of what the drinks are actually supposed to do. “While a small amount helps you focus, a large amount can actually make you lose focus and you can get dehydrated,” said Campa. Some other adverse effects of energy drinks from mixing caffeine with the other ingredients can be insomnia, confusion, anxiety, dizziness, paranoia, obesity, stroke and sometimes even death.

According to Campa, it is better to stay away from high consumption of energy drinks and other drinks containing high doses of caffeine.

It is recommended to get more sleep and exercise instead in order to have more energy, and if caffeine drinks must be consumed, keep it at a low level and withdraw from consuming it if any signs of addictions start appearing.