Energy for your Brain?

November 29, 2011

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Photo: Courtesy of Ambro

Recently I have noticed a campus-wide discussion examining the pros and cons of the sale of energy drinks on campus, specifically Red Bull. Why is it that students are so passionate about having energy drinks on campus? What are effects to the human body from energy drinks?

So do energy drinks like Red Bull really have a positive effect on the brain or could students survive with out it? The ingredients in Red Bull include caffeine which stimulates mental functions such as alertness, concentration, and reaction speed, Taurine, is an amino acid and it effects the central nervous system and cardiovascular system. Also included is lucronolactone, a derivative of sugar, B-group vitamins important for energy metabolism and neurological functions, sucrose and glucose, types of sugar, and alpine spring water. The amount of caffeine and sugars in these energy drinks help keep you awake and alert so that you can log increasing hours in the library. However, these beneficiary effects on cognitive performance, mood, cognitive speed, accuracy and increased alertness can be accomplished by drinking roughly 200 mg of caffeine.

According the BioMed Nutrition Journal a 16-23 ounce can of Red Bull far exceeds the amount of caffeine necessary. With the majority of students consuming energy drinks to replace insufficient sleep (67%) or to increase energy (65%), perhaps it is sleep habits that should be more of a concern. Students should also be informed that too much consumption can lead to a “crash” including headaches, and heart palpitations. If too much caffeine is getting in the way of your sleep, check out UNH Health Services’s website. They have great tips and techniques to help you fall sleep.

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