Caffeine – energy boost or bust?

Caffeine – energy boost or bust?

We are a caffeinated nation. Many baby boomers rely on their morning java for their caffeine jolt. Younger people may choose Mountain Dew or Coke to get a dose of their morning stimulant. But is all this caffeine really good for us?

Caffeine is found in coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, energy drinks, and even some medications.

While we think of caffeine as providing us with a quick boost, it is technically not a stimulant, according
to Duke University Researcher James Lane, PhD. It amplifies the body’s stress response by blocking adenosine, the chemical that keeps nervous energy under control. When adenosine is blocked, a person feels pumped, jittery, or edgy – especially, when adrenaline and cortisol are intensified.

There is no doubt that caffeine is a drug; it does produce dependence and withdrawal. However, these tendencies may vary from person to person based on individual tolerance.

Caffeine-dependent people may experience withdrawal within 12 – 24 hours after their last dose of caffeine. They may experience fatigue and headache. These symptoms often resolve within 24 – 48 hours.

Is it time for a coffee break?*

It takes:

  • 10 – 15 minutes – caffeine reaches bloodstream
  • 60 – 90 minutes – caffeine to reaches peak levels
  • 3 – 5 hours – caffeine levels are reduced by 50%
  • 10 – 12 hours – caffeine clears the body

*Source: Duke University Health

So is it all bad?

Moderate consumption (300 – 400 mg) of caffeine may improve your short-term memory, speed reaction time, and reduce fatigue. More study is needed to determine if caffeine lowers risks of type-2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, liver cancer and prostate cancer.

People who consume too much caffeine can suffer insomnia, tremors, nausea, vomiting, chest pains, and heart palpitations. They may also experience high blood sugar, decreased bone density, and periods of elevated blood pressure, which could increase the risk of heart disease.

While moderate consumption may not be damaging to your health, large amounts of caffeine may be detrimental.

Caffeine’s effects on children can cause them to stay up late and not get enough sleep. Sleepiness may cause them to reach for more caffeine to give them the energy they need. This can become a vicious cycle which keeps their bodies fueled with caffeine instead of being rested.

With caffeine in products from diet pills and medications to soda and energy drinks, it is important to read the label to find out just how much caffeine you are consuming.

Need quick energy?*

Energy drinks may not be your best choice. Many feel energized right away, but crash later feeling fatigued and dehydrated as sugar and caffeine levels in the blood decrease. Energy drinks mixed with alcohol may be especially menacing.

Energy drink cocktails reduce the symptoms of intoxication, but increase the risk of:

  • drinking more by 36 percent
  • injury by 50 percent
  • needing medical attention by 50 percent
  • riding with a drunk driver by 50 percent
  • being taken advantage of sexually by 50 percent

*Source: Wake Forest University School of Medicine