Caffeine is a bioactive substance found in many of the beverages people consume each day. It is generally regarded as a healthy addition to a balanced diet, but as with anything, moderation is key. Most prominently found in coffee, tea, and soda, caffeine varies in amount from one beverage to another. A standard 8oz cup of brewed coffee yields approximately 75-175mg of caffeine, 8oz of brewed tea provides 30-80mg, and a 12oz soda yields 30-35mg. The caffeine content in energy bars, energy drinks, and supplements additionally varies by brand and size. While there is no established recommended daily allowance for caffeine, up to 400mg is generally recognized as safe. Studies have shown that effects can be seen after consuming as little as 100mg.
Potential benefits for caffeine use include increased alertness and delayed fatigue. Consumers may also suffer from many undesirable side effects. Caffeine may increase anxiety, heart rate, and unfavorable sensations related to certain panic disorders, as well as cause an upset stomach, insomnia, and jitters. Classified as a stimulant drug, there also exists an addictive quality to caffeine, where some regular users may develop a tolerance to the good and bad effects. When an individual who regularly consumes caffeine suddenly stops, withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches may be experienced.
When drinking beverages containing caffeine, one must keep in mind that the substance is a mild diuretic. A diuretic increases the amount of water pulled from the body and expelled as urine, so it is important for a consumer to stay hydrated. Additionally, certain other drugs should not be taken alongside caffeine so as to avoid drug interactions. Consuming caffeine with a depressant such as alcohol, for example, poses a risk to consumers because the two drug types send contradicting signals to the body.
Always remember that caffeine is best consumed in moderation, so think twice before grabbing that second cup.
Mallory Drake and Chandler Bianco, LIU Post Dietetic Interns
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