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Students turn to energy drinks as FDA investigates safety

Heather Jenschke, a University of Florida nursing student, juggles two jobs, school and a social life. She often finds herself without energy.

"With coffee, you can only drink so much before it just doesn't cut it anymore, so I've turned to energy drinks," she said. "I don't drink them all the time, but for those extra 36 to 48 hours that I'm going to be up, I'm definitely going to need the kick."

The energy drink craze includes Monster, Red Bull and Five Hour Energy, and the pick-me-ups are available almost everywhere.

The products don't disclose the amount of caffeine included, but companies say it's the same as one cup of coffee.

Manoj Bhargava, inventor of Five Hour Energy, said caffeine can be helpful unless taken in large quantities.

The Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, is looking into 13 deaths that could possibly be connected to Five Hour Energy.

Bruce Goldberger, a University of Florida researcher, said caffeine can have an ill effect on some people.

"There is a small group of people who, for one reason or another, have an ill effect. It could be a sudden cardiac arrhythmia, it could be hyper tension, it could be convulsion or seizures, but something happens that is triggered by the caffeine," Goldberger said.

Until companies label products containing caffeine, people will be at risk of taking too much, he said.

Jenschke thinks caffeine consumers should be cautious of their actions.

"You have to be smart about it," she said. "I'm not saying that it can't happen to me because that's not the way to go about it. But if you have a heart condition, it's not a good idea."

Mina Radman wrote this story for online.

Bailey is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.