So Finals Week is coming soon, and that means stocking up on the Red Bull, coffee, and 5 hour energies, right? Caffeine seems to be what runs the campus for most students this week. Pulling all nighters, studying at crazy hours of the day, and getting barely any sleep are all pretty common. So is all this caffeine we’re “surviving” on okay for us to consume?
There are many myths with regards to caffeine that have been studied in depth. Some of these are caffeine reduces fertility, causes Fibrocystic Breast Disease, causes osteoporosis, causes cardiovascular disease or stroke, causes cancer, and that it dehydrates you. All of these have been proven wrong in studies done with moderate intakes of caffeine. Overall, there is nothing wrong with having a moderate intake of caffeine and it even has some benefits.
Caffeine can be consumed safely. It has even been shown to improve both physical and mental performance. But it is recommended that people only get up to 300 mg per day. Each person is different, so this number may vary, but most experts agree that 600 mg a day is too much. One cup of coffee has about 100 mg, depending on the type, and soft drinks usually have about 40 mg. Energy drinks usually range from 50-160 mg. Some products contain more than one serving though, so always check the label for serving size. If you are taking caffeine pills, be careful not to overdose, because the effects can be very dangerous.
Excessive intakes of caffeine can lead to calcium and magnesium loss, which can affect bone health. Another sign of too much caffeine is if you are restless, anxious, and irritable. It may also cause headaches, abnormal heart rhythms, or other problems. Some people are more affected than others by caffeine. You will learn how much caffeine will affect your own body as you experiment with it.
Watch out for added sugar and fats in drinks that contain caffeine. Most caffeinated drinks come loaded with sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial food colorings and preservatives, or other substances that you should be careful of. For example, Red Bull has 11 grams of sugar for every 100 ml you consume. Even coffee and tea can become not so good for you when you add sugar and creamer. But there are also sugar free options and low fat products that can help you stay healthy as you enjoy your drinks.
Like most foods, moderation is the key for caffeine. So go ahead and enjoy your coffee!