Extra Energy Dragging Students Down

Instant energy. It sounds like a good, easy solution to lack of sleep and exhaustion, but what it really does to the human body may be slightly terrifying.

Regardless of the rush many may feel from energy drinks, recent studies have shown that drinking them can cause serious short-term and long-term health risks.

A selection of energy drinks is displayed in gas stations, grocery stores and malls. Photo courtesy of Google images.

There have been more than 500 energy drinks launched worldwide, according to NBC news. Some of the most popular drinks consumed are Red Bull, Monster, Jolt, Amp, Rockstar and Full Throttle. Many of which find their way, on a daily basis, in the stomachs of students at Penn Manor.

For the students that drink energy drinks, most describe the after-effect as a “crash.”

Senior Amanda Ackerman said, “It’s horrible, I just don’t wanna do anything.”

“Afterwards it feels like my heart is beating really fast,” added Jordan Drexel, also a senior.

Anthony Bernard described his experiences as “very happy” and “giddy,” but nothing like a lack in energy or focus.

“I get jittery for like five minutes and then I go back to normal,” explained senior Justin Herr.

The biggest concern about energy drinks is the most obvious: Caffeine.

According to NBC news, a 12-ounce serving of Amp contains 107 milligrams of caffeine, compared with 34 to 38 milligrams for the same amount of Coca-Cola or Pepsi. Monster has 120 milligrams and Red Bull has 116.

A common reason for energy drink consumption is to fight morning grogginess. Photo courtesy of Google images

This “drug” can cause addiction, but isn’t necessarily the worst thing about the energy-boosting beverages.

Apart from the caffeine that starts the addiction, energy drinks have legal herbal stimulants within them. Teenage bodies are not always able to handle these types of chemicals. Herbal stimulants can do serious damage to the body’s nervous system and they also contribute to neurological problems.

But what about the sugar?

The sugar that is used to sweeten energy drinks and add to the boost is processed, just like most soft drinks and coffees. But, this type of sugar breaks down very quickly which releases too much energy at one time.

This concept is what puts the body under stress while it is also trying to maintain other body functions; the body plunges into overload. The feeling of fatigue takes over after drinking a Red Bull or a Monster because the energy from the broken sugars is quickly burned up and the rest of your body continues to be in overdrive for awhile.

Other additives in energy drinks also contribute to the negative health risks.

Taurine, B vitamins, amino acids and guarana are the thought-to-be harmless ingredients in the beverages, but in the quantity added to energy drinks can cause an overdose of caffeine and stimulation.

Guarana, one common ingredient that is added to energy drinks. Photo courtesy of Google Images

How do students afford such beverages? These “energy enhancers” cost anywhere from one dollar to over three dollars. That’s a big number if you’re like senior Crystal Bugner who drinks at least one energy drink everyday.

Bugner spends $20 out of every paycheck to support her habit.
She introduced herself by saying, “My name is Crystal and I’m addicted to caffeine.”

Other students aren’t afraid to roll out the dough either.

Ackerman said, “I usually pay myself, almost three bucks a drink”

“Depending on the quality and expiration, (I’ll pay) three dollars, but I wouldn’t be afraid to pay up to four,” commented Bernard.

But regardless of price and ingredients, most students are like Herr.

“I am aware of the risks, but I really don’t care.”

By Christa Charles and Cassie Funk