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Caffeine: Fiends resisting addiction

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

By Jaein Park and Lauren Wilson Nov. 9, 2023

Kavya Desai Art

Although coffee consumption in adolescents and young adults has gone down in the past few years, caffeinated energy drinks and other sources of caffeine such as pre-workout have become increasingly popular. With numerous high school students combating the pressure of their schoolwork and extracurriculars, many have resorted to caffeine as a way to temporarily heighten their energy and focus.


Caffeine is a natural stimulant that stops the course of adenosine, a chemical messenger, in the brain, which blocks signals of fatigue and leads to increased awareness. Sources of caffeine include cacao beans, tea leaf plants, synthetic caffeine and the most common source—coffee beans.


Although caffeine is most known for its presence in coffee, it is also regularly consumed through a variety of prevalent options such as tea, chocolate, energy drinks and soda. Caffeinated pre-workout supplements are popular among athletes as an energy boost before exercising. One serving can range from 150 mg to 300 mg of caffeine, which is approximately equal to three cups of coffee—a considerably large amount.


In addition to the temporary increase in energy, alertness and attention span, caffeine can provide several long-term health benefits, including strengthening long-term memory, per Medical News Today. Furthermore, according to the National Library of Medicine, a Japanese study conducted in 2018 discovered that women who consumed over three cups of coffee per day had a 20% lower risk of developing colon cancer compared to those who consumed one cup or less.

However, while caffeine is commonly enjoyed for its benefits, it also has a wide range of negative effects. Frequent caffeine consumption can lead to addiction, which can cause anxiety, depression and nervousness. Another common effect is its impact on sleep patterns—caffeine can disrupt circadian rhythms, which eventually leads to insomnia.


“I drink coffee for most of the days of the week because it motivates me to finish school work by keeping me awake and focused. The only negative repercussion I experience is struggling to fall asleep, but the main point of caffeine is to stay awake, so I just need to make sure to not overdo it,” Sophomore Ekatherina Yagubyan said.

In an effort to reduce these health risks, TriHealth, a unified health system, suggests that the average adult without medical struggles should consume a maximum of 300 mg of caffeine per day. According to Cleveland Clinic, an academic medical center, more than 400 mg of caffeine may be damaging for adults with adequate health. Adolescents from ages 12-18 should be limited to 100 mg because their brains are still developing, and children under 12 should not consume any caffeine.


Harvard Medical School argues that exercise should entirely replace caffeine, as it has the same positive results without the burden of the negatives. Brief sessions of any cardiovascular activity can boost alertness, accelerate cognitive functions and improve the way the brain stores memories, and these effects last longer than the effects of caffeine regardless of an individual’s physical fitness or level of fatigue.


“Caffeine has had various effects on my lifestyle—it has helped me improve my concentration while studying—but has also hindered my sleep schedule as I have ended up sleeping significantly later than my usual bedtime. I think having healthier alternatives for caffeine at a young age is important. I have tried going out to exercise, drinking more water and maintaining a balanced diet in order to achieve the same effects as caffeine,” Senior Ameya Kulkarni said.

Ultimately, it is crucial for individuals to learn how to make informed decisions about consuming caffeine, mindful of the potential consequences that it may have on overall health. Monitoring the side effects of caffeine intake and exploring other options is key to achieving a healthy lifestyle.

 

About the contributors

Jaein Park

writer


Jaein Park is a freshman at Leland High School and is a writer for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys listening to music, and playing chess.



Lauren Wilson

page editor


Lauren Wilson is a Junior at Leland High School and is the Last Word and Investigative Report Page-Editor for The Charger Account. She enjoys to volunteer with animals and do cheer.

Kavya Desai

artist


Kavya Desai is a senior at Leland High School and is a new artist for The Charger Account. During her free time, she enjoys sleeping, playing video games, and going for long drives.

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