The Buzz About Caffeine | Sophie Sills
It’s been established that my morning is simply not complete without my morning coffee. At this point, I have completely perfected my recipe: half a glass of ice, half a glass of cold brew or espresso, oat milk until the color is just right, and lastly, a small squeeze of agave nectar. To me, there’s nothing like the balance struck between the crisp coolness and rich flavor of a perfect iced coffee, and of course, the jolt of energy that comes with it is much needed, especially amidst the stress and busyness of the infamous CCA lifestyle. But lately, I have discovered the wonderful world of Yerba Mate™, prompting me with the realization that caffeination may not have to be limited to mornings. From sleepless study sessions to more energy at sports practices, it seems that caffeine is a quick (and tasty) fix to help one fit an impossible amount of productivity into one single day. Although I can be found guilty of replacing quality sleep with an extra coffee at times, I do still wish to maintain my health and --for the most part-- do what is best for my body, so I decided to do some research on caffeine, and its effects on us. So without further ado, here is what I found:
Caffeine is a stimulant that affects the nervous system. When consumed, it blocks the effects of adenosine and reduces the production of melatonin, both of which are chemicals found in our cells that help us feel sleepy. Technically, most adults can safely drink 400mg of caffeine a day (for reference, a typical coffee contains 80-150mg), but some cannot tolerate this much, and start to experience unfavorable symptoms such as shakiness, headaches, or increased heart rate. Overall though, caffeine seems to be relatively harmless to adults when taken in moderation.
However, researchers have much different opinions on caffeine when it comes to teenagers. Unlike for adults (who can typically drink up to 400mg of caffeine a day safely), studies show that teenagers are only recommended to consume 100-200mg of caffeine a day to maintain their health. According to an article from verywellhealth.com, caffeine can stunt crucial brain development in teenagers when consumed in large quantities, and can additionally have detrimental effects on teens’ bones, hearts, and sleep rhythms. Due to the immature nature of their brains, it is also easy for teens to get “addicted” to caffeine, and experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms upon stopping intake.
The effects of caffeine on both adults and teenagers aren’t all negative, however. There are a plethora of interesting positive effects of caffeine consumption (in moderation of course) other than the obvious boosted energy levels and greater clarity of thought and focus. These include the fact that it may be linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes or protection against liver conditions. Additionally, studies show that drinking caffeine could be linked to improved weight management, a lower risk of depression, or even the ability to live a longer life.
In all, what I’ve concluded from my research is that like many other things, caffeine seems to be relatively neutral, or even beneficial when consumed in moderation. So although I’ll be wary of my developing teenage mind next time I consider making my second coffee of the day or drinking a Yerba at 4 PM, there doesn’t seem to be much harm in getting an extra boost when needed, or simply giving yourself an energizing pick-me-up on an exhausting morning.