Attending college courses turned Elizabeth Oestreicher, a non-profit administration major, into a caffeine connoisseur. Everyday, Oestreicher drinks all kinds and all amounts of coffee.
“I used to never drink coffee and now I literally could not get through college without coffee,” said Oestreicher. She works at Lorain County Community College’s Starbucks at the College Commons.
Coffee and academics seem to go hand-in-hand these days. For many of the millions around the nation who go to work and school, a dependency has developed; essentially, the world runs on coffee. Nearly 54 percent of Americans over the age of 18 drink coffee everyday, statisticbrain.com reported. That’s over 100 million people, with 60 percent of the total claiming they need a cup to start their day.
College students today make up a portion of the millions of people reliant on caffeine, with 40 percent of 18 to 24 year-olds, according to the National Coffee Association. With coffee shops around every campus corner, the availability of the energy-laden beverage has become instantaneous. With this accessibility, the concern over coffee’s impact on the human health has resulted in beneficial and detrimental findings.
“I will tell you this: caffeine has been run through more tests than anything else in the world,” said Dr. Harry Kestler, an LCCC professor of microbiology in the science and mathematics division.
“The reason that we started looking at caffeine very early on is because it has some physical resemblance to DNA. And the thought is if it looks like DNA, maybe it can get into the DNA. Instead, we’ve never seen any kind of effect like that.”
A person’s DNA has been linked to determining how caffeine affects their concentration levels, according to the Associated Press. Though still being researched, genetics have been found in multiple studies to be a factor in how individuals metabolize caffeine.
The average American consumes 3.1, 9-ounce cups of coffee each day, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. That is approximately 300 mg per person a day, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration claimed.
Ideally, the best and most popular times of day caffeine is consumed tends to be in the breakfast hour. Within one hour of waking up, 68 percent of total caffeine drinkers in the country have their first cup, healthresearchfunding.org stated. Depending on the person, half the amount of caffeine your system ingests will be filtered out in less than 5 hours and three-quarters of the caffeine will be completely gone by about 10 hours.
Recent studies have shown the benefits resulting from drinking approximately 2 cups of coffee a day. Findings reported by hsp.harvard.edu have shown that consuming coffee in moderate proportions can lead to a decrease in the risk of Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, liver cancer, type 2 diabetes, symptomatic gallstone disease, heart disease and stroke in women.
Marcia Jones, LCCC manager of Career Services, is a daily visitor of the campus Starbucks. Getting her coffee fix of the day is important to her, but she has mixed feelings regarding the caffeine beverage’s impact on students.
“I don’t know if I’d go as far as saying it’s good for students, but it helps them get through college,” she said. “[But] it helps them be successful in college, let’s put it that way.
Seen as either a positive or negative aspect, caffeine can keep a person awake at night, especially when ingested six or less hours before bedtime, according to livescience.com. Its stimulating powers can take effect as early as 15 minutes after consumption, which helps significantly with fighting tiredness and improving concentration levels.
With finals approaching, students will be spending more time hitting the books and less time sleeping. To get through this period, a large number of them will be reliant on caffeine.
“So you want to study and stay up late, work hard. [Caffeine] is very helpful in that regard. I think coffee’s a very good thing to do,” Kestler said. “But I always recommend to people; if you study without caffeine, take your exam without caffeine. If you study with caffeine, make sure you have an appropriate level because you don’t want to get so much in that you become disjointed and develop something like ADHD.”
A study conducted by the American Psychological Association on the effects of consuming 200 mg to 400 mg doses of caffeine in relation to grammatical errors found higher levels of detection and repairs. These results, the APA reported, show that the central nervous system of the test subjects was stimulated, resulting in fewer errors and an enhanced global processing of language-based materials.
However, experiences of tremors, fatigue, irritability, stomach trouble, rapid heartbeat, depression and trouble concentrating have been linked back to the consumption of more than 500 to 600 mg of caffeine per day, the Mayo Clinic reported. These symptoms can arise not only from too much absorption of caffeine, but also as a direct result of withdrawal side effects for those who attempt to wean themselves off the addicting beverage.
“There is the stomach effect; too much caffeine on an empty stomach, can get you into some troubles,” Kessler said. “Caffeine is fine, drinking too much of it at once is not a good thing.”
“I think it’s good in moderation. Some people get crazy stuff, like six shots of espresso, said Starbucks worker Carly Wall, a communications major at LCCC. “I think black coffee has some nutritional benefits. But it’s the stuff with sugar and flavorings in it [that’s] bad”.
“Everything in moderation. If you pace it out, that’s a good thing,” Kestler said.