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Finals Advice: Skip the Energy Drinks

screen-shot-2013-04-29-at-3-42-00-pm-1With finals beginning next Monday, some Ole Miss students will turn to energy drinks to get a boost while hitting the books.

Senior Mary Helen Trulock says she uses energy drinks to keep herself “alert” while studying. Trulock said she tried to give up energy drinks for Lent, but found she herself getting “the shakes and a headache.”

Student Peter Romeo is a ROTC cadet who has about one energy drink a day. He says he relies on energy drinks to complete the tasks he needs to finish throughout the day.

“I’ve had to give up energy drinks for certain training exercises for the Army; they don’t let you take any supplements and it was hard. It’s almost like quitting a nicotine addiction,” says Romeo.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate energy drinks, which makes it easier for these beverages to have high caffeine content. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant; if you have too much, that can lead to major health problems.

According to published news reports, the FDA announced in November 2012 that it was investigating 13 deaths allegedly tied to 5-hour Energy products. In addition, another investigation was opened to look at five deaths and one non-fatal heart attack that were allegedly linked to Monster Energy Drinks.

Energy drinks can become a hazard to people who drink too many at a time. A small two-ounce. bottle of 5-Hour energy contains as much caffeine as a regular eight-ounce cup of coffee. If you had three 5-Hour energy bottles in a day you would be exceeding the Mayo Clinic recommendation of 500 mg of caffeine a day.

Dr. Chris Black, professor of exercise science at Ole Miss, is studying caffeine and its effects.

He explains that when you’re up or on a “high” from caffeine you may experience alertness or the “jitters.” Yet, when you come down from the high you could experience tiredness and what most call a “crash.” But the reason for the “crash” feeling, he says, is the user is usually already tired which, “is masking an underlying issue.”

Ole Miss nutrition professor Melinda Valliant says there’s a better way to boost your energy while studying.

“I would tell most people to pay better attention to their diet and make sure they are getting the right amount of nutrients.” –– Mary Houston Matthews, broadcast journalism major, Meek School of Journalism and New Media


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