Have you had your daily caffeine fix?

19 June 2013

What contains caffeine?

When you think about caffeine you may think about coffee and tea, but caffeine is in other things, which don’t always spring to mind like chocolate and coke. And of course there are a number of drinks that are sold for their energising affect.

What are the recommended levels?

  • Moderate amounts of caffeine do not present a real risk to health, whereas consistently high intakes may have a bad effect.
  • Moderate intakes are considered to be 200-250mg of caffeine, which is equal to 2 – 3 (200mls) cups of coffee or 4 – 5 cups of tea.
  • Excessive intakes are considered to be 8 – 10 (200mls) cups.

What does caffeine do to you?

The following effects are commonly attributed to excess caffeine – while reading them bear in mind that what is true for one person may not be true for someone else:

  • Stimulates your heart, respiratory system, and central nervous system.
  • Makes your blood more `sludgy’ by raising the level of fatty acids in the blood.
  • Stimulates blood circulation
  • Raises blood pressure
  • Causes your stomach to produce more acid
  • Irritates the stomach lining
  • Makes digestion less effective by relaxing the muscles of your intestinal system
  • Stimulates the cortex of your brain heightening the intensity of mental activity. This can result in a temporary feeling of alertness and, in the short term, banishes drowsiness and feelings of fatigue. In those who already have high levels of anxiety the heightened intensity of mental activity can produce unpleasant effects. But check out (2) below which contradicts this.
  • Affects the length and quality of sleep. Heavy caffeine users suffer from sleep-deprivation because their nervous system is too stimulated to allow them deep, restful or prolonged sleep.

In addition to the above effects prolonged or very heavy caffeine use can produce the following:

  • `Caffeine nerves’ a jittery feeling with shaking hands, palpitations, and wobbliness in the legs.
  • Caffeine addiction, which involves nervousness, irritability, agitation, headaches or ringing in the ears.
  • Causes your adrenal glands to release their hormones into your bloodstream
  • Causes blood sugar, or blood glucose, to be released from storage through the effects of the adrenal hormones.

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