The truth about energy drinks

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As students, sometimes it’s necessary to be awake early for classes and able to stay up late at night cramming for exams. But taking a second to consider whether or not that energy drink is worth it could save you from some unwanted health effects. While caffeine is found in a lot of drinks, what makes energy drinks different is all the other ingredients they have.

The label for a Monster Energy Zero Ultra lists things like Guarana Extract and Panax Ginseng Extract. According to the National Institutes of Health, Ginseng can affect blood pressure in some people and also cause side effects like headaches, trouble sleeping and digestive problems. Studies show that Guarana contains its own caffeine and also enhances the effects of caffeine, which can make the energy drink have a stronger effect. Depending on the dose, Guarana can cause rapid breathing, nervousness and nausea along with other side effects. On top of these ingredients, the sugar content can also be high in these drinks. A 12-oz can of Red Bull has 37 grams of sugar; keep in mind that a can of regular Coca Cola has 39 grams of sugar.

So what can you do?
Drinking coffee or tea is a safer and usually cheaper alternative. Bottled and coffee shop versions of these drinks can have a lot of added sugar though, so making them at home can save money and help you control the amount of sugar that’s added. If that cup of coffee is just not enough, consider taking a quick 20-minute walk to boost energy levels. If you are going to have some caffeine to help keep you going, just try to make it at least 6 hours before you plan on going to bed, as having caffeine past that time period can actually interfere with your sleep.


Post contributor: Heather Yearack

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