Facts About Caffeine

More than ever, humanity is a lot busier now. The busier we get, the more we become dependent on stuff that can make us function for another extra hour or so. One of these things is caffeine. Look back about two decade or so ago.

Remember, there was only coffee which you can have either black or with creamer and sweetener? Fast forward to about a little over a decade ago; notice how many Starbucks and Seattle’s Bests and whatever coffee shops have sprung up? Now you have coffee from Sumatra or wherever at your nearest coffee shop, which is probably just a block away.

What is caffeine?

Caffeine is a naturally occurring drug which is produced in the leaves and seeds of many plants. It can also be produced artificially and be added to certain foods. Caffeine is classified as a drug because it stimulates the central nervous system. This causes increased alertness, energy boost and elevated mood.

Caffeine is most commonly found in coffee, tea and chocolate. It is also found in soft drinks and in some over-the-counter medications such as pain relievers.

In its natural state, caffeine tastes very bitter. However, your usual caffeinated drinks are already processed in such a way that the bitter taste is already masked. Caffeine is not stored in the body, but its effects can be felt for up to six hours.

Effects of caffeine

The most common reported effects of caffeine are increased mental alertness and a boost in energy. However, when taken in large doses, caffeine can cause anxiety, palpitations, dizziness, headaches and the jitters. It can also interfere with normal sleep.

The effect of caffeine (and the amount one consumes) varies from person to person. The general rule is, the smaller the person, the less caffeine is needed to produce side effects. Caffeine sensitivity lessens eventually if you take in a lot of it daily/regularly, which means that more is needed to produce the same effects.

Caffeine causes a person to urinate more since it is a diuretic. However, it is not yet certain whether this causes dehydration. But to be sure, do not take too much caffeine in hot weather, during long exercise sessions or in other situations where you might sweat a lot.

Caffeine can cause the body to lose calcium so make sure you do not take too much caffeine or fail to get enough calcium in your system. Not enough calcium in the body can have an even greater effect on bone density which puts you at risk of developing osteoporosis.

Since caffeine affects the central nervous system, it can worsen heart conditions and may interact with medications or supplements. Caffeine can also can also make feelings of stress and anxiety worse. Plus, caffeine can make headaches worse in some people – though caffeine is sometimes used to treat migraine headaches.

Caffeine in moderation

Caffeine is considered safe in moderate amounts. For adults, experts consider 200-300 mg of caffeine to be a moderate amount. On the other hand, consuming just 100 mg of caffeine a day can cause a person to become "dependent". This could mean that a person may develop withdrawal symptoms when he/she suddenly stops taking caffeine, like tiredness, irritability and headaches.

Young people should take only about 100 mg of caffeine daily, and kids should take even less than that.

Cut back on caffeine

If you think you’re taking in too much caffeine, try decreasing you caffeine intake. However, you must go about it slowly. Stopping all of a sudden could bring about withdrawal symptoms.

Switch your caffeinated drinks with decaf or noncaffeinated drinks. Monitor how many drinks you have per day. Substitute one drink per week with a caffeine-free drink until you reach below 100 mg mark.

When you cut back on the amount of caffeine you take in, you may find yourself feeling tired. It would be best to just go to bed instead of grabbing a caffeinated drink. Listen to your body telling you that it needs to rest. Your energy levels should return to normal in a matter of days.