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September 21, 2023

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Stimulant comes in many forms; has positive, negative effects

Students who drink coffee from Starbucks three times a day might be overdosing on caffeine.

“People don’t really . . . consciously think about that it is a drug,” said Faith Yingling, director of Wellness. “[Caffeine] is a stimulant.”

A grande, or medium, cup at Starbucks coffee is 330 milligrams of caffeine, which is 130 more than the recommended daily dosage of 200 milligrams, Yingling said.

Coffee is not the only product that has caffeine in it, though.

“It’s not just what you’re drinking,” Yingling said. “It could be medications; it could be foods, like chocolate.”

Another food that includes caffeine is ice cream. Starbucks’ coffee ice cream has between 40 and 60 milligrams per cup serving.

When people drink caffeine, it can stay in their bodies for hours at a time.

“Most of the effects are probably gone between four and seven hours,” said Mary Jon Ludy, assistant professor in the Dietetics and Family and Consumer Sciences Department.

Caffeine can also be taken in pill form.

“A caffeine tablet contains as much caffeine as one to three 5 oz. cups of coffee,” Yingling said.

While caffeine affects people differently, there are some people who get caffeine headaches when they do not have enough caffeine.

“[People] can have serious withdrawal symptoms for [caffeine],” Yingling said.

Some of those symptoms include headaches, dizziness and nausea, she said.

“You get used to having a higher dose [of caffeine],” Ludy said.

Even though caffeine can have negative health benefits if taken in excess, like raising blood pressure and making people dehydrated, some caffeine is OK, Ludy said.

“There’s some research to suggest that coffee in moderation…reduces the risk of stroke,” Ludy said.

Junior Grai’Nisha Pierce generally tries to stay away from caffeine, but drinks coffee three or four times a day during finals week.

“I have a lot of stuff to study for so I need to stay awake,” Pierce said.

Pierce also works a third-shift job.

“I get off work at 6 a.m. and have class at 11 a.m.,” she said.

When people drink caffeine they must always be aware of how they feel, Yingling said.

“You really have to take [into] consideration…what’s happening to your body when you’re drinking these types of substances, your heart rate’s increasing,” she said. “If your body’s not used to taking these types of things you could have some really serious side effects with that.”

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