Regardless of how you feel about the taste, coffee is one of the most common sources of the stimulant affectionately known as “caffeine.” Roughly 80% of caffeine consumption comes from coffee. Coming in second and third place are soda and tea, respectively. Caffeine can be found in some diverse places, however, and is the most frequently used drug globally.
What Is Caffeine, Anyway?
Caffeine is a fairly common topic; most everyone you speak to will understand what you mean when you say “caffeine.” The vast majority of American adults consume caffeine daily, but what exactly is it? At its core, caffeine is a white powder with an intensely bitter taste, known by the name 1,3,7-trimethylxanthine. Since that was not a catchy name, they decided to call it “caffeine.”
Where Does Caffeine Come From?
Caffeine can be naturally derived from the parts of over sixty different types of plants. The most common sources found in the American diet are from coffee, tea, and soda. Energy drinks are increasingly popular. Caffeine can also be created in a synthetic process and added to products, such as supplements and medications.
Caffeine consumption is widely regarded as a safe process in the correct amounts. This comes down to approximately 200-300mg of caffeine daily. High doses can exceed 400, however. The average sits around 280mg, while some outliers consume as much as 600mg each day.
How Addictive Is Caffeine?
If you ever feel like you cannot face the day without your morning cup of coffee, you might be addicted. Or could you? Whether caffeine is addictive is a hot topic. Do you consume is for the desire to drink it or do you drink it to satisfy a craving?
Based on the criteria for substance abuse, most would argue that you can become addicted to caffeine. However, because those that drink caffeine and then remove it from their diet do not always experience withdrawal symptoms and do not always develop dependence, there is no use comparing it to other, more serious types of addition.
The effects of caffeine can vary widely from person to person. You may feel that you are dependent upon it, but it is not a universally addictive substance. The best advice to take is to experiment with caffeine to see how it affects you. Learn how your body feels about it and make well-informed decisions based on those observations.
Can You Overdose On Caffeine?
The amount of coffee, tea, or soda that you would have to ingest in order to die from caffeine intake would be astronomical. However, high caffeine intake has been on the rise recently and there are more caffeinated products on the market than ever before. There are supplements, energy drinks, candy, gum, and medications that all contain caffeine.
This begs the question: if caffeine were dangerous, federal law would dictate that the dosage of caffeine in each product be listed on the food label, right? Unfortunately, that is a false statement. Caffeine is required to be listed as an ingredient, but manufacturers are not required to list the amount of caffeine in any given product on its label.
There is a syndrome known as “caffeine intoxication” which is common in people that are rarely exposed to caffeine. However, anyone who uses caffeine in levels that their body is not used to can be at risk of intoxication. The symptoms include:
- Flushed face
- Other gastrointestinal grievances
It is also possible to die from overdosing on caffeine, though the dose would have to be extremely large. In order to die from drinking coffee, you would have to drink approximately one hundred cups right after another in order to get to a lethal dose. It sounds unlikely, but there is a confirmed case of death from caffeine powder consumption, so it is not entirely out of the question.
Does Caffeine Aid In Weight Loss?
Weight loss supplements are flooding the market and they are rarely all they are cracked up to be. While the claims are often substantial, the payoff as well as the research behind the products are often not there. Caffeine has been dubbed “the next big thing” in the world of weight loss supplements for its use as an appetite suppressant, energy enhancer, and for its so-called “fat burning” assets.
However, the evidence to support these claims that caffeine can help weight loss are mixed. In some studies, high intake of caffeine was shown to lead to higher weight loss, while another found that it leads to gaining weight due to increased stress hormones. As of now, the evidence is inconclusive.
Are There Health Benefits To Caffeine?
While people often say that their coffee habit is a “guilty pleasure,” it can have certain health benefits. Most of the research done, however, is based around coffee, rather than isolated caffeine. Because coffee is the most widely consumed source of caffeine, the benefits can be linked to both caffeine and coffee itself.
- Coffee can affect your brain health by aiding in increasing your long-term memory.
- Drinking 2-3 cups a day can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
- As caffeine is digested, it affects the burning of fat cells, blood flow, and capacity for oxygen, making it a good option for a pre-gym treat.
- Drinking coffee can lower your risk of developing cancer, especially skin cancers, endometrial cancer, prostate cancer, and liver cancer.
- You can lower your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by even occasionally drinking coffee.
- Drinking three cups of coffee can also prevent cognitive impairment from developing into dementia.
- Drinking 2-3 cups of coffee a day lowers your risk of suffering symptoms of depression.
Overall, caffeine is a very personal experience. How it affects you and how you deal with its affects is up in the air. Until you know how certain levels of caffeine affect you, you should do your best to monitor your intake. Additionally, make sure to never consume more than 10 grams!