Coffee vs. energy drinks

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    Many students believe energy drinks and caffeine are both effective, but feelings are still mixed about the personal long-term effects of consuming these products.

    Emily Parker, a junior biology major, said she thought energy drinks were more harmful than coffee and other caffeinated drinks.

    “I think energy drinks are worse because there’s more caffeine used in them than there is in coffee or sodas,” Parker said.

    Parker said she does not use energy drinks or sodas to aid her in late-night studying.

    “I actually use warm or cold green tea because it’s more natural caffeine,” Parker said. “[It] helps me stay up all night without the long-lasting and harmful side effects.”

    According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website, green tea and green tea extracts can be used to heighten mental alertness.

    Parker said green tea is her first choice when deciding between caffeine and energy drinks in an attempt to stay up longer than usual.

    “I don’t drink coffee that much because when I do drink it, my hands get shaky, and I find that it makes me extra hyper,” Parker said.

    Parker said although coffee keeps individuals more awake and alert for awhile, it wears off quickly.

    According to a 2006 ABC news report from “Good Morning America,” the antioxidants in any type of tea have health benefits.

    Antioxidants prevent inflammation of the red blood vessels and have been linked to a reduced risk of cancer, according to the report entitled  “What’s Better for You: Coffee or Tea?”.

    Briana Saldana, a senior criminal justice and psychology double major, said she likes and uses energy drinks, but with a special ingredient.

    “Red Bull is my drink of choice, but I mix it with ice and Sprite so that it is not as strong and won’t cause me to burn out quickly,” she said.

    Saldana said hearing negative comments about energy drinks and their side effects caused her to look for an alternative to drinking Red Bull during long nights of studying.

    “I honestly think the Red Bull alone works for me, because there’s been a few times I’m studying by myself with a little caffeine and I can still pull an all-nighter,” she said.

    Saldana said she has had some bad experiences with energy drinks in the past, but nothing out of the ordinary.

    “The second time I had taken it, it didn’t really work because I was still tired. Other than that, sometimes I burn out quicker than I want to,” Saldana said.

    Amy Garbrecht, a senior nutrition major, said she drinks coffee without cream or sugar-free energy drinks.

    “The reason why I choose these alternatives is to avoid empty calories,” Garbrecht said.

    Empty calories are calories that provide no elements of nutritional value, such as vitamins or minerals.

    “The effects of coffee, tea and energy drinks all depends on the person who is consuming the products,” Garbrecht said.

    Garbrecht said she has learned from classes that the portion size determines the effectiveness of the drink and how long an individual stays up from drinking the product.

    Both energy drinks and coffee are effective and have side effects that are similar to being fatigued and burning out quicker than expected, she said.

    Garbrecht said it is important to consume any caffeinated beverages in moderation and to remember to be safe while using them to stay awake longer than usual.

    “The response and the effects of caffeine will depend on the size of the person, time of day, fatigue levels and caffeine receptors,” Garbrecht said.

    According to the Mayo Clinic website, the recommended safe amount of caffeine per day is between 200 and 300 milligrams, which is two to four cups.

    Parker said consuming green tea should be an alternative to energy drinks and coffee for all students.