Wake Up Vista: Know the Effects of Coffee


Many teens consume at least one cup of coffee a day.

Hannah Nelson, Staff Writer

On any given day, teenagers and adults pack into Starbucks, standing in line and sitting at tables. They grab their lattes, cold-brews, or plain black coffees, and head out to work or school.

This scene is now typical across the country. People have consumed coffee for centuries, however, teens grabbing a drink on their way to high school is a more recent norm. “According to the American Dietetic Association, when it comes to teenagers drinking caffeinated beverages, the number has tripled since the 1970s,” said the Coffee Home Direct.

Some students at Vista del Lago High School carry a coffee cup to their first class on most days. “Coffee is definitely popular with high school students,” said Ashton Titus, a sophomore at Vista. “They drink [coffee] pretty much anytime, anywhere.”

Coffee is a major source of caffeine for many people. Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that is not only contained in coffee, but also teas, soft drinks, and certain foods such as chocolate and some medications.

What are the benefits of coffee?

“A November 2015 study in Circulation found that coffee consumption was associated with an 8 percent to 15 percent reduction in the risk of death (with larger reductions among those with higher coffee consumption),” said Robert H. Shmerling, M.D., of Harvard Health Publishing. “Other studies have found that coffee drinkers may have a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease (including heart attack, heart failure, and stroke), Type 2 diabetes…”

As for mental benefits, coffee can increase awareness and alertness, as well as prevent exhaustion. “Some studies have shown that caffeine may enhance memory performance, particularly when tedious, repetitive tasks are involved,” said Coffee and Health. “However, higher intake may decrease performance, possibly due to overstimulation.” As a student, Titus noticed that she typically drinks coffee for a quick boost of energy, and depending on whether or not she is tired that day.

What are the risks of coffee?

Caffeine is a drug. After drinking certain amounts of it over time, your body becomes dependent on it. Addiction is common among coffee drinkers, and trying to break this addiction comes with withdrawal symptoms, the most common being headaches. “If I don’t have coffee in the morning, I’ll get a headache in the middle of the day,” said Leah Feldman, a junior at Vista and a daily coffee drinker. According to One Medical, fatigue, irritability, and difficulty concentrating, along with other minor symptoms can be a result of withdrawal.

One cup of coffee contains up to 100 mg of caffeine. “The Mayo Clinic states that up to 400 mg of caffeine a day is probably safe for most healthy adults. That is approximately four cups of brewed coffee, 10 cans of cola, or two ‘energy shot’ drinks,” said Medical News Today. Most people can be sensitive or become dependent with much lower doses. The FDA said that they have not set a safe intake level for for children, “…but the American Academy of Pediatrics discourages the consumption of caffeine and other stimulants by children and adolescents.”

Physical health might be taking a small hit from coffee consumption. The American Heart Association says, “It affects the kidneys, increasing urination, which can lead to dehydration.” Also, heart problems, like coronary disease, being caused by drinking over the recommended daily amount of coffee are still unsolved, and many studies are still being developed.

Coffee can also have negative mental impacts. Anxiety, the feeling of fear and nervousness, can be heightened by coffee and other caffeinated beverages. “If I have too much coffee before a [dance performance] or before a test, my nervousness is more intense,” Feldman said. This only has prominent effects when the subject consuming caffeine already has some form of anxiety disorder.

The verdict of whether coffee is ultimately good or bad is up to the drinker. Knowing how the caffeine-filled drink affects you is important, as everyone reacts to it differently, and just know that when it comes to coffee, less is more.