Caffeine addiction plagues America
TNE Editor
/ Categories: Campus News, Health

Caffeine addiction plagues America

Published 11/28/16

Hannah Nielsen

TNE Writer

Caffeine is the most popular psychoactive drug in the world, and it is especially popular in the United States. Reportedly, 80 percent of adults in America admit to consuming caffeine daily, according to the Food and Drug Administration. However, many are unaware of caffeine’s addictive properties and the side effects it may bring.

“Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant,” said Lindsey Ince, registered dietitian and instructor of nutritional science. “While research shows that low caffeine intake may have some short term health benefits such as increased alertness and enhanced athletic performance, high consumption really has more harmful effects than positive ones.”

Some of these harmful benefits include headaches, anxiety, insomnia and fatigue.

According to Health Research Funding, 30 million Americans consume five or more cups of coffee a day, and it is estimated that three out of four caffeine users are addicted. Withdrawal symptoms are similar to those of narcotics and alcohol.

Kelcie Farley was an undergraduate student at NSU and is now a graduate student at University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, studying nutritional sciences and dietetics. She explained some of the limits one should set on their caffeine intake.

“Four hundred milligrams is the highest dose that is safe for most adults, which is about two sodas or four cups of coffee,” said Farley. “With the upper limit of caffeine you are likely to have digestive upsets, nervousness and a fast heartbeat. A healthy diet will boost energy levels throughout the day because it is a more efficient fuel for your body.”

Farley also suggested drinking green tea if one wants caffeine, and while coffee is not a bad option, the sugar and cream can offset the nutritional benefit. Ince suggested checking for other nutritional deficiencies or increasing one’s water intake, before reaching for something caffeinated.

“Deficiencies in iron, vitamin D, B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids can leave us feeling fatigued,” said Ince. “Hydration with water is the most basic way to keep our bodies alert and fully functioning. Adults need a minimum of 64 ounces, or eight cups, of fluid per day. A more accurate recommendation is to drink half your bodyweight in ounces, so a male weighing 200 pounds should set a goal to drink at least 100 ounces of fluid per day.”

It is common for college students to rely on caffeine to get them through a night of studying and homework. However, students need to be conscious of how much caffeine they are consuming to avoid an unhealthy dependency.

“Many times I need a second or third cup of coffee to keep me going throughout the day,” said Taylor Eversole, OKC senior. “When I see that I am needing more and more coffee, I try to cut back by replacing it with tea.”

For more information on consuming caffeine and possible addiction, visit http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/this-is-how-your-brain-becomes-addicted-to-caffeine-26861037/?no-ist.


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