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Midterms are here, but beware the power of killer energy drinks

Krista Brooks

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The Food and Drug Administration is investigating Monster Energy Drink after five deaths have allegedly been linked to this delicious pick-me-up.

Earlier this week, a 14-year-old girl from Maryland died of a heart attack after drinking only two cans of Monster Energy.

These drinks are utilized to wake people up, like coffee, but consumers should be hesitant of drinking more than one.

The drinks are labeled to warn against the drink’s use by children and teens under the age of 18, but studies show that the median age of consumers of energy drinks is 17.

A 24-ounce can of Monster Energy Drink has around 240 mg of caffeine, equal to seven cups of coffee. The FDA allows this content level as long as it does not exceed 550 mg.

Producers of energy drinks are not required to label natural-occurring caffeine content, such as guarana, green tea extract and yerba. These ingredients are not dangerous alone, but mixed with the already present caffeine, the results from drinking one serving of Monster Engergy amount to a much bigger rush in energy than labeled.

These several chemically-derived caffeine contents have been the root of heart attacks and, in worse cases, death.

Some consumers drink these energy boosters to help them maintain focus. The stimulant caffeine can also improve athletic performance for short periods of time, providing alertness in the mind and body.

This boost to the brain by caffeine is negated, however, by the large amounts of sugar in the drinks. The sugar is quickly absorbed into the system, which accounts for the sudden rush and crash later.

The absorbed sugar causes a rapid plummet of insulin levels and is followed by excessively low blood sugar levels.

When the blood sugar drops, it reverses the effectiveness of the drink, creating mental fatigue and emotional instability. So at this point, a consumer heads to the appropriate aisle and buys a second drink.

This energy cycle can be crucial to our bodies, especially young developing minds. They’re easy to access and can change a stressful day into a productive one, but are the risks worth it?

If consumed moderately as according to the label warnings, these can be a helpful treat; however, there are other alternatives.

Before waiting to be out of energy and resorting to these drinks, plan ahead.

We’re college students. Of course we are going to be tired later and in need of a boost. Grab a green tea on your way to school; it is rich in natural energy supplements, amino acids and good ol’ fashioned caffeine. These drinks are lower in sugar content, helping to avoid the midday crash.

5-Hour Energy drinks are as easy to find as Monster Energy but are much smaller in size. The labels warn to only drink half the amount at a time. Do not exceed these limits; otherwise, the risks of heart attack are equal to the sugary energy drinks.

If low energy is a persistent day-to-day problem, visit your pharmacist or the Health Center on campus to find a solution. You may have anemia, or be lacking necessary supplements in your diet. The doctor may recommend a one-a-day vitamin or individual Vitamin B supplements. These B vitamins, primarily B12, are usually in the aforementioned cans of energy drinks for the boost.

These should also be used in moderation, even though they have a much lower risk of overdose or risk heart attack than sugary drinks.

Be careful in your search for an energy boost, use all supplements in moderation and think ahead before making irrational decisions that could be fatal.

Krista Brooks is a junior journalism major and the assistant opinions editor for the Daily 49er

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