Tag Archives: Student health blog

The Ugly Truth about Energy Drinks

Before you reach for another energy drink, you should know the facts.

From supermarkets to drug stores, you’ll spot students buying energy drinks to not only quench their thirst but help them survive all-nighters in the library.

Since Red Bull was introduced in 1997, energy drinks have seen a major growth, outpacing nearly every other offering in the beverage market. But do we really know what we are buying? Are these drinks safe?

What is really in energy drinks?

There are so many different kinds of energy drinks now-a-days. From Red Bull to Five Hour to Monster, students have many options when deciding their liquid source for energy. So of course recipes vary, but the common element in energy drinks is caffeine.

A standard cup of coffee has about 100 mg of caffeine, a cup of tea 50 mg and a can of coke cola 35-55 mg. How much caffeine does energy drinks have? Well, definitely more. Try anywhere from 50 to 500 mg of caffeine in a single serving.  And the addition of guarana (a South American plant extract that contains additional caffeine) ups the caffeine dose even more. Although the FDA regulates the amount of caffeine in soft drinks (maximum of 71 mg per 12-oz serving), there is no such limit for energy drinks.

Caffeine is a stimulant. Scientific studies in adults show that caffeine can increase alertness, improve concentration and enhance mood. Modest caffeine intake (less than 400 mg per day) is safe for most adults. But too much caffeine can cause problems, including restlessness, irritability and difficulty sleeping. Massive caffeine overdoses can cause reduced blood flow to the heart and abnormal heart rhythms.

Many energy drinks also contain sugar. Sugar is “real energy.” Your body can use the sugar as fuel to do work. But don’t forget that extra sugar means excess calories. A steady consumption of sugar-filled energy drinks will lead to weight gain.

Other ingredients, including the amino acid taurine, ginseng and assorted vitamins, probably have little to no impact on a person’s perceived energy level. Although manufacturers tout the importance of these additives, their purported benefits are unproven. One note of caution-ginseng can interact with a variety of prescription medicines.

Are energy drinks safe for you?

Energy drinks have not been proven safe. In fact, because they are classified as supplements, they are not even regulated by the FDA. This means that their ingredients are not tightly controlled and their health effects are largely unstudied.

We do think that an adult who consumes an occasional energy drink (one a day) is unlikely to suffer harm. But too much can lead to caffeine overdose and health problems, and mixing energy drinks and alcohol is such a bad idea – Don’t do it for the sake of your health!

Before you reach for that magic bottle that promises enhanced alertness, concentration and physical performance, you need to remember the facts. Instead get a good night’s sleep, exercise regularly and eat well… these are the real energy magic-makers.

Top 6 Ways to De-Stress From Finals

Some of the schools we serve had finals last week and others have it this week. But… I guess it really doesn’t matter when you have finals. The point is… you do and they are oh-so-stressful! What’s a student to do?

Here are some ways you can de-stress from finals week:

Lay out in the sun
You can really lay out anywhere. Just find the closest beach, pool or lawn and whip out the towel and sun block. To make it extra sweet, read a fun magazine like Cosmopolitan or ESPN. Something that’s the complete opposite of your textbooks!

Movie marathon
Don’t you just love spending a lazy day with your good-ole pal, Redbox? There really isn’t anything better than spending a day (or two) unwinding with a few good movies.

Host a get together
Share your post-final fun with your friends. Host a small get together, like a game or move night.

Organize your desk
Does your desk look like a war aftermath? Well, you and your desk did just survive finals. Clean it up by throwing away stuff from the semester that you don’t need anymore. And try recycling your old folders and binders by re-using them for the next semester.

Exercise
If you’re finals week was pretty crazy, I’m sure the gym didn’t see much of you. Get back into your exercise routine to wind down from finals and prepare for beach weather.

Take a mini road trip
Who doesn’t love a good road trip with friends? Whether it’s a one day trip or weekend get-away, adventure off to a nearby city, beach or theme park with friends.

We totally give you permission – no, you deserve some time to slack off, relax and have some fun. All-nighters can do a number on your body. So have some summer fun before those summer classes begin.

Be sure to tell us how you de-stress from finals by writing a comment below.