You are in that boring class and can’t seem to focus. You look at your phone every minute and think it should be against the federal law to have such a soporific teacher. Without realizing it, you fall asleep and suddenly wake up as the class bursts into laughter. You missed the joke!
You drink some of that cola you brought and ask your classmate what was so funny. Then you hurry to keep up with your notes.
The next class is better, but 15 minutes later, you doze off again. As you walk out of one class to go to another, you take one more sip of pop.
For people between 18-22 years old, chronic fatigue is one of the biggest problems, said Chemistry Professor Stephen Patton. Chronic fatigue can be dangerous. Patton tells the story of one of his former students, a cheerleader, who fell asleep while driving.
The Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) that many students know is actually a sign of lack of magnesium (Mg+2).
As explained by the National Institutes of Health website, magnesium helps keep up normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis, according to the website.
People all have a cheap energy source in their bodies called fat. These love-handles that some people love so much are an important source of energy. And the body can and loves to store a lot of fat!
Also, fat can be transformed by a high energy storage molecule which is ATP. ATP is important for the body as it supplies the energy muscles, heart muscles (for blood circulation), and skeletal muscles. People should make about their body weight of ATP every day, Patton said.
But for the fat to be transformed on ATP, magnesium is essential, he said.
So, FAT +magnesium=ATP.
Too much magnesium is as bad as is too little magnesium, Patton said. What is needed is a balanced amount of it. Without it, people are lacking of energy and they feel constantly tired.
So, to fight the fatigue, what do student do? Take Pepsi, Mountain Dew, or other soft drinks! It has caffeine and it tastes good. For an exhausted student who has a bit of a sweet-tooth, it kills two birds with one stone, right? Wrong.
Soda pop has phosphate (PO4 3-) in it. Patton’s chemistry class conducted an experiment that shows that, in the presence of phosphate, magnesium turns into a chalky white
solution substance. It means that phosphate precipitates the magnesium.
So, magnesium+phosphate=No magnesium.
In other words, if a student drinks cola when they are tired, the caffeine will provide an illusion for a while but it will rob students of their magnesium causing drowsiness.
The phosphate is used to make the beverage sweet and tart, though soft drink companies should be using a natural flavoring agent like tartaric acid (in grapes), citric acid (in lemon, orange juice), Patton said.
The body needs phosphate but it does not need extra in drink as a flavoring agent. But the soft drink companies are not likely to change it because phosphate is cheaper than natural flavoring agents, Patton added.
The solutions are simple. Number one, stop blaming the professor for the class and find some good source of magnesium in your food. Magnesium can be found in green vegetables, such as spinach, legumes (beans and peas), nuts and seeds, bread made from whole grain, chocolate (yes, chocolate!) and water.
Number two, stop drinking soda pop!
“Well, we’ll see about that!” sophomore Nadia Unae Quainoo said. Quainoo is majoring in Biology and was part of the chemistry class experiment. To raise her energy, she drinks chocolate milk, she said. But most of the time when she is tired it means that she is hungry so she will eat.
Sabrina Moussier, a sophomore who also is part of the same chemistry class, said she does not drink soda pop as it gives gas.
Most of the student-athletes asked see a great source of energy in Gatorade and Redbull.
But some students think that the best solution for sleepy-head is a great pillow!
Indeed, completely erasing pop from the everyday diet blackboard might be a little radical for some students.
So, when it comes to being awake, maybe it would be easier to switch pop for coffee or tea.