Lindbergh research project outlines risks, benefits for energy drinks

Letters to the Editor

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To the editor:

My name is Jordan Breitenstein, and my science partner Kelsey Fraley and I have researched to what extent energy drinks affect the overall health of students at Lindbergh High School in St. Louis, Missouri. I found some really interesting and important information that our community should know.

This is what we found:

Before researching the effects of energy drinks on the body, we understood that the health benefits were insignificant and only had long-lasting negative effects on the body including an effect on the cardiovascular system, and potentially could lead to an addiction to caffeine. What we did not understand going into our research was the extent of the long-lasting negative and the number of positive health benefits.

The use of energy drinks for an extended period of time does indeed have negative health effects on the cardiovascular system and can lead to serious heart and blood vessel problems. Problems include heart rhythm disturbances and increased heart rate and blood pressure. The caffeine that is in the energy drinks also can have an effect on younger children with their still-developing nervous and cardiovascular system. Additionally, other health negative effects outside of the cardiovascular system include increased stress and aggression, stomach irritation, kidney damage, an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, poor sleep patterns or insomnia and dental problems. For athletes using energy drinks prior to engaging in physical activity, our research found that it can enhance physical endurance because of carbohydrates contained in energy drinks — however, it does not affect physical strength.

Depending on the amount of caffeine consumed, it does decrease the steadiness of hands and negatively affects control over the muscular system, but we concluded that there are many long-term and damaging effects to one’s health with the frequent use of energy drinks.

But there are short-term health benefits to consuming energy drinks when in moderation. After research, it was found that energy drinks containing caffeine also contain vitamins that could help beneficially with one’s health. With energy drink brands, including the most popular brands, vitamin B complex was found in all. Vitamin B is grouped into a family of eight vitamins. Energy drinks contain most of these vitamins because they play an active part in energy metabolism.

They are water-soluble, meaning the parts of the vitamin that are not absorbed by your body are passed through the body systems without any toxic build-up. This allows the vitamin of any amount to be consumed even if it’s past the recommended amount without it being harmful.

With the continuation of using energy drinks prior to physical activity, there were not necessarily negative health effects short term to the body besides difficulty controlling the muscular system. However it has been proven that the use of energy drinks prior to physical activity benefit the endurance of the body. With energy drinks containing high amounts of carbs, consuming one prior to any physical activity can help the body last longer. The body breaks down and stores these glucose molecules from carbohydrates, and are used for fuel.

Finally, in conclusion after extensive research, we found that there are in fact short-term benefits to the consumption of energy drinks. But there are far more serious and extensive long term health effects.

Jordan Breitenstein
Concord

Editor’s note: Jordan is a Lindbergh High School sophomore.