Caffeine is a danger and needs new legislation

Signy Mastel, Copy Editor and Reporter

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There are a lot of different substances that we put in our body, but one of the most common, and most overlooked, is caffeine. Caffeine is widely regarded as safe, but what many don’t know is the addiction and the extent of the health issues caused by caffeine, especially in young people. Because of these risks, more awareness should be raised about the harms of over-consumption of caffeine, and parents need to take a more active role in regulating the amount of caffeine available to their children.

Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant, and it’s also the world’s most consumed psychoactive drug (JIY.org). But, unlike most psychoactive drugs, caffeine is unregulated and legal almost everywhere.

Too much caffeine can cause a variety of symptoms, from harmless side effects, like jitteriness, headaches, and heartburn, all the way to heart palpitations, hallucinations, cardiac arrest, and even death.

More and more people are experiencing these symptoms, and they aren’t realizing the cause because they don’t know how much caffeine is too much. Unfortunately, overdosing on caffeine is much easier than most people think it is.

According to Mayo Clinic, “Up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. That’s roughly the amount of caffeine in four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola or two “energy shot” drinks.” Those numbers don’t sound too terrible; however, the recommended daily dose changes based on age.

According to The American Society of Pediatrics, the maximum recommended amount of caffeine for teenagers daily is 100 mg or less. Seeing as how American teenagers are a demographic which drinks, on average, 65-800 mg of caffeine a day, this is definitely cause for concern. The wide range in caffeine consumption is caused by each teen’s personal preference, but more and more teens are leaning toward the higher end of that range.

Withdrawal symptoms from caffeine may include headaches, sleepiness, muscle pain, lethargy, irritability, constipation, depression, cramping, muscle fatigue, and lack of concentration.

Some people may argue that caffeine isn’t addictive nor is it dependency-causing, but according to the Smithsonian Institute, “…caffeine is chemically addictive, a fact that scientists established back in 1994. This past May, with the publication of the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), caffeine withdrawal was finally included as a mental disorder for the first time…”

Of course, caffeine, when consumed in moderation, has the potential to be beneficial. It can help with concentration and staying alert. The real problem lies in the fact that people are no longer moderating their doses, but instead are consuming with no thought to their health, or the health of their children. If people continue to consume caffeine in these outrageous amounts, the symptoms of caffeine addiction and overdose will continue to increase in frequency.

The question you have to ask yourself is this: Are a few more cans of pop worth your health?

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Caffeine is a danger and needs new legislation