Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Effects of Caffeine on Your Body

Almost every mom I see pushing a stroller is holding a cup of coffee. The lines at popular coffee shops are often very long. In most book stores and libraries there are coffee shops. Caffeine has become an important part of most of our lives.

In my last blog post I talked about the effectiveness of 5-Hour Energy shots. Now I think it is important to talk about the effects of caffeine on the body.

For the average, healthy adult moderate doses of caffeine are safe and not harmful. This means about 200-300 milligrams (or two-four cups of coffee) a day. Caffeine can stimulate your central nervous system, eliminate fatigue and make you feel more awake.

It is when you consume more than 500 mg a day of caffeine a day that you may start to see problems. Some of these include; insomnia, nervousness, irritability, anxiety, depression, upset stomach, tachycardia (rapid heart beat), and muscle tremors.

These numbers are not set in stone, some people are more sensitive to caffeine than others. Some people, myself included, can be susceptible to these unwanted effects in just small amounts. Your sensitivity to caffeine may correlate with how much caffeine you are used to drinking or other factors such as body mass, age, medications or health concerns. It has also been suggested that men are more susceptible to these effects than women are.

Using caffeine to make up for lost sleep can create a viscous cycle. The average person need 7-8 hours of sleep every night. If you only get 4 hours of sleep one night, you may rely of several cups of coffee to keep you alert the next day. Then that night you are restless and can not sleep because of all of the caffeine you drank during the day and you may only get 3 hours of sleep the next night. See where I'm going here?

Since I work with kids, I hear moms all the time talking about how they "need" their coffee and wish they could give it up. I overheard a mom talking about how she gave caffeine up recently and she feels so much better ever since she has gotten rid of it. If you feel the need to decrease or eliminate your daily caffeine consumption, it is important to do it gradually so you do not get any withdrawal symptoms.

For most adults caffeine is not a health problem, when used in moderation. If you have any concerns about your daily caffeine intake you should contact your doctor.

National Osteoporosis Foundation. Clinician's Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis -- 2008. Washington, DC.
Escott-Stump S. Nutrition and Diagnosis-Related Care. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2008.

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