Do you like to drink your energy?! In coffee or another form of intake? Well here is a very interesting blog created by Lauren Manke for an assignment in Computer applications in chemistry. Enjoy!

Feeling jittery? Got that moody feeling to go away after that essential extra-large cup of coffee to get you going this morning? Going for your 5th Red Bull today? How about some unexplained weight gain? All of these questions end up pointing fingers at one sacred stimulant: the no good, college student craving, jitter inducing cup of caffeine. Sure, as college students a nice hardy goblet of the sacred fuel is found almost vital to daily survival, but the side effects can be quite daunting even for the most experienced consumer.
 Caffeine is found in a variety of foods and beverages ranging from chocolate to energy drinks to coffees and teas. It is the additional compounds found within these caffeine containing foods and beverages that cause an additional concern or less of a concern with their consumption. Take coffees and teas for example. They contain a compound called polyphenols which is actually seen to increase heart health due to relaxation of blood vessels and their antioxidant properties (Ruxton, 2009). However, this does not mean that you are in the clear to grab an extra-large cup of Joe. In fact, the study of caffeine effects in both coffees and teas has proven to be a bit difficult due the fact that they contain BOTH polyphenols and caffeine.
Caffeine Levels in Daily Caffeinated Beverages.
SOURCES: Consumer Reports, December 2012; Curr. Opin. Pediatr., DOI: 10.1097/mop.0b013e3283506827;
 J. Am. Med. Assoc., DOI: 10.1001/jama.2012.170614; J. Food Sci., DOI:10.1111/j.1750-3841.2010.01561.x
In the end, it depends on the person. Studies have shown that high coffee intakes do have an increased risk of hypertension but this is only seen in a few studies (Ruxton, 2009). So, what does that even mean for the caffeine dependent college student? Moderation and knowing your limits is key. If caffeine does give you increased blood pressure at an inconsistent and dangerous level, then cutting back might be a benefit to you. Genetic differences cause issues in this idea of setting limits for caffeine consumption. 
We all metabolize caffeine differently with men being the fastest. Therefore, the idea of knowing exactly how much a person should consume at a max is a bit difficult as each person is different (Wolf, 2013). What about those ever so popular energy drinks? Or even those sugary soft drink? Sugary foods and beverages, such as soda and chocolate not only contain caffeine, but also the dangerous little devils that are responsible for the infamous “Freshman 15”: Calories! Hello unwanted weight gain! Tack that on to the college student’s load of stress. Yet, students still crave these sugary beverages and foods for the simple idea that they will keep them awake and alert sufficiently enough to get them through the day.
This brings us to energy drinks: another source of the sacred fuel. Lack of information to the FDA about these energy drinks (such as “5-Hour Energy” bottles) leave us with difficulty assessing these issues. The absence of caffeine content on the labels doesn’t stop researchers from determining that these little bottles contain almost seven times the amount of caffeine in an average cup of Joe (Wolf, 2013). No wonder you are wide eyed awake after chugging one of these down. From a chemical stand point, how does this affect us mentally? 
Caffeine binds to adenosine receptor proteins in the body that prevent adenosine from interacting with its natural receptors causing it to limit its ability to regulate some nerve cell activity. Thus, we see that dopamine is blocked and thus sleepiness is reduced. (Which is why you can’t sleep after downing caffeine). But for college students needing to cram for a test or an assignment, this is seen as beneficial. If dopamine and other neurotransmitters cannot bind, their levels increase causing a flood of nerve activity in the heart and brain. (Wolf, 2013). 
Molecular Structures of Caffeine and Adenosine
SOURCE: Sola, Nina. Molecule of the Week:
 Caffeine. Deerfield Academy. 2012.
This, in turn, causes the infamous increase in heart rate and blood pressure that is craved by caffeine consumers. But how is this a “bad” thing? Don’t we want that “awake” feeling? After all, it isn’t called a “Morning cup of Joe” for no reason.  It is the after effects of this sacred fuel that concerns researchers. Too much of it can actually cause anxiety, irritation and even mental discomfort. Doesn’t this have college students written all over it? Hmm, from a student stand point, doesn’t anxiety and irritation make school work more difficult? And thus, the truth comes out! It is a well- known fact that being able to pay sufficient attention in class and concentrate on the material that is being presented to you is what leads to increased success in classes. With caffeine as a contender in your everyday life and your genetics playing against you, ask yourself, is the sacred fuel so sacred after all?

Ruxton, Carrie. Health Aspects of Caffeine: Benefits and Risks. Nursing Standard. 2009, 24, 9, 41-48. 

Wolf, Lauren K. Caffeine Jitters. Chemical and Engineering News. 2013, 91, 5, 9-12.

Written by Lauren Manke

Edited and posted by Sammy Freitag