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Caffeine – Good, Bad, or Ugly?

Written by Courteney

Posted on June 10, 2016 at 8:50 pm

Millions of Americans enjoy waking up to a daily mug of joe, and some even need a few cups to get through the day. But what about all the hype surrounding caffeine? Should coffee lovers should worry?

What is Caffeine and Where Does it Hide?

Caffeine is a crystalline compound which acts as a natural stimulant (energy increaser) to the body’s nervous system. It is found in many edible items such as coffee, tea, certain sodas, kola beans and chocolate. Surprisingly, many medications and supplements even contain varying amounts of caffeine as a filler ingredient.

Side Effects of Too Much Caffeine

As long as most healthy adults stay within the 400mg daily recommended limit of caffeine they probably won’t have many issues, but some people are more sensitive than others to the effects of caffeine. If you consume too much or have a sensitivity, caffeine can spur the following symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Shakiness
  • Upset stomach
  • Fast heartrate
  • Heart palpitations

Who Should Limit Caffeine Use?

If you know you are caffeine sensitive you should cut down your intake drastically to enjoy a better quality of life. If you have a serious heart condition and have been advised by a doctor to cut down on the coffee, it is best to listen as caffeine can aggravate some heart conditions such as arrhythmias. Pregnant women shouldn’t consume more than 300mg of caffeine daily as it may have adverse effects on the fetus. Similarly, children must limit their intake to 2.5mg/kg which works out to about a can of pop a day for a young child.

Is It Really Addictive?

There is light contention surrounding this issue – some argue caffeine addiction is a myth, but most health professionals consider it to be a mildly addictive substance because of the brief withdrawal period people often experience when they reduce or cut out caffeine. Because of how caffeine effects the nervous system it can cause a slight dependence, but nothing compared to drugs or alcohol. People sometimes become irritable, experience blue moods, headaches, mild fatigue or brain fog for a while after quitting. So all in all it might be tough to kick the habit but caffeine withdrawal isn’t considered a medical match to contend with, it will just make for a few unpleasant days.

Potential Health Benefits of Caffeine

There has been research done on the effects of caffeine for asthmatics. It can mimic the effects of a bronchodilator medication called theophylline and can potentially help acute asthma symptoms such as wheezing and coughing. You can read more about this in our post on coffee and asthma. There have also been links drawn between moderate caffeine consumption and lowered risk of such cancers as mouth and tracheal cancer as well as a potentially lower risk of type 2 diabetes. More studies must be done before some of these conclusions are cemented but it seems caffeine isn’t all bad!

So, What’s The Verdict?

Clearly caffeine is a complex little number with positive and negative traits, but the bottom line seems to be as long as you tolerate caffeine well, enjoy it in moderation! However, if you find yourself exceeding the recommended daily limit or relying on caffeine too heavily you may need to re-examine your intake. Similarly, if you seem to experience negative effects with even a small amount of caffeine, you’d be best obliged to stay away. Basically, enjoy it responsibly!

Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you have any questions about some of the caffeine side effects or withdrawal symptoms we reviewed in this post feel free to sign up to DocChat today to connect with one of our highly qualified and knowledgeable physicians!

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