Caffeine Health Benefits

Most people don't need to be too concerned about getting some caffeine into their body.

If you keep it to less than 400 mg per day, most people will do just fine.

People who are more sensitive to the effects should strive to take less of it obviously.

Don't take it too close to your bedtime or you may experience trouble sleeping.

Be aware that people can get "addicted" to caffeine.

In essence, when they stop taking caffeine, they might experience headaches, withdrawal fatigue and decreased alertness.

Evidence of Health Benefits of Caffeine

Research Status

Caffeine has proven benefits in treating headaches, migraine, boosting mental alertness, and assisting in weight loss.

These health benefits are accepted by most experts.

They are rarely disputed.

It can also enhance athletic performance up to a certain point although the results are somewhat unclear.

There is no evidence that a "reasonable" amount of caffeine in your diet would have any negative health consequences.

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(What's This?)

Headache / Migraine Headache

This drug is combined with pain relief medications such as Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Aspirin (ASA) to boost pain relief.

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Improving Mental Alertness / Reduce Drowsiness

Many clinical studies support using this drug to maintain mental alertness and to prevent mental fatigue. Many energy drinks contain caffeine and taurine for this.

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Enhancing Athletic Performance / Reduce Fatigue

Studies done in human subjects show that taking caffeine can allow a person to perform longer at physical activities before they get tired. This is one health benefits that's proven with extensive clinical research.

This drug is very commonly used by athletes to enhance their performance. It is not a banned substance however there is an upper limit set by various athletic associations and committees.

Note: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) sets an upper limit of 12 mcg/mL in the urine. That's about taking 1,000 to 1,200 mg of caffeine or about 6 to 8 cups of coffee within 4 hours of the drug test.

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Asthma

Some small clinical trials show that asthmatics lungs seem to function better when they take caffeine. Additional clinical studies will need to be carried out to verify this initial finding.

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Type 2 Diabetes Prevention

Population studies done in Japan and North America show that caffeine consumption reduces the risk of get diabetes.

For example, Japanese taking more than 416 mg daily of this drug reduces their risk of getting type 2 diabetes by 33% (compared to only taking 57 mg per day).

Experts are not sure why this is the case. Further research will need to be done to find out the exact mechanism for this benefit of caffeine.

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Weight Loss

This drug combined with stimulates such as ephedra causes modest weight loss of about 11 pounds when taken for 6 months. The researchers cannot say for certain whether caffeine by itself is as effective.

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Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Some animal studies so that it may help. One related clinical study show that caffeine seems to reduce hyperactivity symptoms in children after recovering from sedation.

For the report on Natural Remedies for ADHD to get a list of supplements that work.

Benefits and Traditional Uses

Facts and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Facts about caffeine

Caffeine is a naturally occurring drug found in coffee, nuts, chocolate and teas.

It can also be chemically made in the labs.

It is added to many soda, soft drinks, energy drinks and some over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications used to treat headaches, migraines and pain.

It is also sold by itself in a pill form to help boost mental alertness and "keep you alert and awake".

The health benefit you get from taking this drug, is in a large part, due to its stimulating effect on the central nervous system.

Foods containing caffeine - The list

See the report Caffeine Containing Foods and Drink to find out how much caffeine is present in a cup of coffee, tea and chocolates. We have compiled this document for your information.

How much should I keep my caffeine intake under?

A healthy adult should not take more than 400 mg from all sources on a daily basis.

Ideally, children should not be taking more than 85 mg daily if they are between 10 and 12 years old, 62 mg if they are between 7 and 9 and less than 45 mg if they are between 4 and 6 years old.

Pregnant and breast feeding women should keep intake to under 300 mg daily. Lower amount is better for a child and women during pregnancy.

Should I be avoiding foods containing caffeine?

There is probably no need to avoid foods containing caffeine. You would do so if you:
  • are sensitive to it,
  • experience side effects, or
  • eat a lot of foods known to contain this drug.

Different people respond differently. One person can drink an entire pot of coffee and feel perfectly fine. Another person can experience insomnia and tremors with just half a cup.

Knowing the foods containing caffeine will ensure you don't overexpose your body to it. This knowledge will help you to recognize side effects from taking too much of it.

What is the chemical structure of this drug?

Here's what the chemical structure looks like. The molecular formula is C8H10N4O2

chemical structure caffeine

What about using caffeine to counteract drinking too much alcohol?

This is a myth.

Taking this drug does not sober you up after you had too much to drink. It is not a good idea to combine it with alcohol as side effects such as nausea and vomiting would be increased.

Side Effects, Toxicity and Warnings

What are some dangers and harmful side effects of taking too much caffeine?

Common side effects from taking too much of this drug include agitation, trouble sleeping (insomnia), nervousness, tremors, headaches and excessive urination.

With high doses, dangers include increased heart rate, nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, confusion and anxiety.

Dangerously high dose will cause irregular heart beat, chest pain, and convulsions. Everyone reacts differently and will experience different levels of side effects even with the same dose. This is the negative part of taking this drug. Make sure of you are aware of the content of this drug in various beverages you consume.

If I need to stay awake longer, would caffeine help?

Yes.

It is shown to enhance and prolong mental alertness. But it does not replace the need for sufficient sleep. You can only go so long depriving your body of the needed sleep. Eventually, you will "crash" mentally and physically.

What about using caffeine while pregnant?

This chemical readily crosses into the fetus blood circulation. Experts recommend keeping the dose to less than 300 mg per day.

Animal studies show that very high dose (12 to 24 cups of coffee) may cause miscarriage or the heart rhythm of the fetus.

Human studies suggest that taking more than 300 mg daily leads to a baby with a lower birth weight. Make sure you consult your family doctor if you consume lots of foods containing caffeine.

Does caffeine cause high blood pressure?

Possibly. In some individuals. Excessive consuming may lead to a slight higher blood pressure as it behaves as a stimulate.

Can you become dependent or "addicted" to the effects of caffeine?

Yes.

You can develop a dependence or addiction to this drug especially when you are a heavy user. Over time, you'll need to take more and more to achieve the same benefits.

If you were to stop it suddenly, you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, drowsiness, restlessness or nausea and vomiting.

Teenagers today drink a lot of soda pop and many of them contain large amounts of this drug.

What health conditions would be made worst from taking caffeine?

If you suffer from anxiety or panic disorder, insomnia, high blood pressure, stomach ulcer, irregular or fast heart beat, liver disease or heart disease, you should consult your family doctor first.

This is especially true if the amount you take from food sources is high.

Dosage & How to Take It

Most clinical studies used between 100 to 600 mg daily. Always start with the lower dose first and increase gradually to reduce the risk of getting side effects.

Click here to see how much of this drug is found in various beverages and foods.

Bottom Line

Thinking of taking caffeine tablets for its health benefits?

Go for it. The evidence is strong for its ability to help promote mental alertness.

But definitely don't over do it!

More is not better in this case.

Excessive amounts of caffeine is expected to cause insomnia and other unwanted side effects that can impair focus and judgement.

The amount of caffeine you can tolerate before annoying side effects show up is very dependent on the individual.

Be alert to the fact that many foods and drinks already contain some amount of caffeine.

Related articles to the Health Benefits of Caffeine

Caffeine for ADHD/ADD Symptoms - Does It Really Work?

Health Benefits of Taurine - Alertness and Fatigue Prevention?

 

 

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References for the Health Benefits of Caffeine

Revised: 15.04.2014

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