Friday, January 21, 2011

First Assignment in Science Writing

Turned in my first draft of my first article for Science Writing this week. We had to pick an item from our purses or book-bags and write an article explaining how it works. I found a bottle of 5 Hour Energy in my purse, so I decided to write about that. Here’s the first draft:

Energy drinks and dietary supplements have been becoming increasingly popular in the United States since the introduction of 5 Hour Energy by Living Essentials in 2004. Seven years later, 5 Hour Energy still makes up approximately 75% of the energy supplement sales in the U.S. Unlike many other energy drinks such as Red Bull or Monster which contain sugar, 5 Hour Energy is artificially sweetened with sucralose, the main sweetening agent in Splenda. This allows the consumer to get the same energy increase as from energy drinks, but without the added calories; 5 Hour Energy only contains 4 calories in a 2 ounce serving versus Redbull which contains 100 calories in an 8 ounce serving. Since 5 Hour Energy does not contain any sugar, this means that there will not be a spike in your blood glucose levels and you will not experience a sugar crash as your body process this rapid sugar increase.

Of the ingredients listed in 5 Hour Energy, the only one proven to increase energy levels is caffeine. It is stated on the 5 Hour Energy website that each 2 ounce bottle contains as much caffeine as “a premium cup of coffee.” The amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee can vary, but according to the Starbucks website, 8 ounces of their signature coffee contains 180 mg of caffeine. According to a Marks and Kelly publication from 1973, caffeine is rapidly absorbed into the gastrointestinal tract and reaches maximum absorption about 45 min after ingestion. If someone can ingest 180mg of caffeine in only 2 ounces of 5 Hour Energy instead of the 8 ounces it would take to consume it in a cup of coffee, the 5 Hour Energy consumer would feel the increased levels of energy much quicker than the coffee drinker especially considering some people drink their coffee slowly and could take up to 45 min to drink their coffee. WebMD.com states that the half-life of caffeine in your system is about 4 to 5 hours and will be completely out of your system after about 10-12 hours. This half-life time is likely the source of the name for 5 Hour Energy based on its active ingredient being caffeine.
The manufacturers of 5 Hour Energy claim that other ingredients in their “energy blend” such as taurine, glucuronolactone and phenylalanine, also reduce sleepiness and increase alertness, but these statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. The Mayo Clinic website says some studies have found that taurine supplementation can improve athletic performance, but that the results are inconsistent and remain controversial. 5 Hour Energy also contains high levels of B vitamins such as vitamin B6, vitamin B12, niacin (vitamin B3), and folic acid (vitamin B9). Dr. Brent Bauer of the Mayo Clinic says on the WebMD website that “[B vitamins aren’t] . . . going to boost energy unless you’re B-defficient.” Regardless of the claims made about the ingredients of 5 Hour Energy on its website, drinking 5 Hour Energy will give you a boost in energy because it does contain caffeine, and drinking excessive amounts of the other ingredients such as the B vitamins are unlikely to cause any serious side effects.

The draft obviously needs some work. It needed to be 400-600 words long, and I think the last paragraph doesn’t really explain how it works so much as just lists some facts about it. I’m thinking about deleting that paragraph and going more into how caffeine works in the body. Also, a peer reviewer said that the first sentences of each paragraph were quite dense. I’m going to wait until next Wednesday when we get revision suggestions back from the teacher before I make any changes. So far I’m really enjoying the class.

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