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What we know about caffeine

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By the ninth week of the quarter, you may remember forgotten projects and papers you put off or realize the need to read and comprehend eight weeks of reading in a single night.

Panic sets in, and many students look for ways to boost their brain with caffeine:

  • Yerba mate
  • “energy” drinks
  • Adderal/Ritalin
  • herbal products.

What should you know before you choose that path?

First, there is no pill, treatment, medication, herb, prescription drug that improves intelligence or enhances cognitive ability in healthy brains.

Know what you are taking, before you ingest. Learn how products affect you before trying it. Everyone reacts differently.

All drugs carry some risk – even acetaminophen (liver damage from large or extended use). It is important to consider your state of health, your age and genetics before you expose yourself to something as simple as an energy drink.

If you are considering “energy drinks” – know that manufacturers want you to think the “energy” is coming from special blends of herbs and other substances, but their key ingredient is almost always caffeine — often a hefty dose that’s not disclosed on labels.

Moreover, the drinks supply “energy” by providing calories, specifically from sugar.

Did you know Rockstar, has 62 grams of sugar, Amp has 58 grams and Monster Energy has 54 grams per 16-ounce can.

Many of these drinks now come in artificially sweetened versions, but that doesn’t make them risk-free.

Many people experience side effects from drinking energy drinks such as

  • tremors
  • dry mouth
  • insomnia.

I even had one student pass out after gulping down a can of Red Bull!

Not surprising, as the drink contains 240 milligrams of caffeine, as in two to three cups of coffee, the stimulant guarana, taurine, milk thistle and ginseng!

The bottom line is to read the label, know what the active ingredient is and learn what the effect that could have on you.

It is possible that certain products may help you stay alert to meet this deadline, but there are other options.

Try eating a healthy diet, getting a good night’s sleep, talking with your instructor, using De Anza’s tutorial services.

They might serve you better in the long run… and indulge in the occasional cup of coffee and some dark chocolate!

Mary Sullivan is the Director of Health Education and Wellness, and can be reached at 408-864-8733 or at her email, [email protected]

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