The effects of caffeine on Americans

Photo Illustration by Danielle Lutjens

Beware! Students at California Baptist University powering through final projects should know that caffeine overdose is possible – though it takes 5-10 grams of caffeine, which translates to a feat of about 80 cups of strong coffee in one sitting, according to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF).

About 90 percent of Americans consume caffeine in some shape or form, but the ADF said it affects individuals differently. From providing an energy boost to not seeming to affect an individual at all, but always leaving a craving for more.

Caffeine affects individuals uniquely based upon their size, weight, and health, along with other factors such as the rate and amount consumed. The effects of caffeine can last between 5 to 30 minutes, on average, but can continue for up to 12 hours, according to the ADF.

Adriana Cortez, senior forensic chemistry major, said she has been consuming caffeine consistently since a young age by drinking coffee and other products.

“Caffeine is a stimulant that helps me focus, communicate better and think critically,” Cortez said. “The detriment of caffeine is that it will (affect) my health, such as with heart palpitations.”

Todd Brunette, sophomore criminal justice major, said he started consuming large amounts of caffeine at the age of 15.

“I think energy drinks are a necessity to live,” Brunette said.

Caffeine consumption can also have more lasting effects. The long-term effects of caffeine may include feelings of nervousness, difficulty sleeping, restlessness and more.

Nolan Gouveia, a lecturer for the Robert K. Jabs School of Business, acknowledged his personal consumption of caffeine.

“People love caffeine and drink a lot of coffee usually to stay awake or to get energy. A lot of people like to use caffeine to energize them for a good workout at the gym,” Gouveia said.

Gouveia also explained how caffeine has found its way into so many products in modern society.

“As far as entrepreneurship, any time one figures out how to solve a problem there is an opportunity for a business,” Gouveia said. “So understanding that some people have a problem of being too tired after a long day at work or not having enough energy for a certain event, an aspiring entrepreneur can recognize this opportunity and develop a product to solve that problem.”

After learning the side effects of caffeine dependence, some students may wish to reduce or eliminate their caffeine consumption. Withdrawal symptoms for caffeine addiction start within 24 hours and can last for extended periods of time. They may include symptoms such as headache, marked fatigue or drowsiness, depressed mood or irritability, difficulty concentrating and flu-like symptoms, according to the ADF.

Though the occasional dose of caffeine is not particularly harmful, building caffeine consumption into one’s routine may not be worth the detriments.

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