Caffeine is a drug that stimulates the central nervous system. It’s the most widely consumed drug on the planet, in fact. Yet it is unregulated and legal just about everywhere.
In its pure powdered form, 10g of caffeine will kill you. It’s more powerful than you might think.
For this reason, it is recommended you keep your daily intake well below 1000 mg per day. Three cups of coffee, to give you an idea, would be about 450 mg.
It’s not all bad news, though. Many recent studies suggest that caffeine, in moderation, can have some health benefits. Everything from increased memory, increased hair growth, decrease in post-workout muscle pain, and reduced Cataracts risk, to limiting the effects of Parkinson’s Disease and Alzheimer’s, have all been attributed to daily caffeine intake.
And some previous conclusions that caffeine leads to heart issues or increased cancer risk have recently been disproved.
Many beverages, and some foods, include caffeine. It’s not all about coffee. Tea, many soft drinks, chocolate, and some pain medications all contain various amounts of caffeine.
Determining just how much caffeine you are consuming can be challenging. Many factors effect the overall caffeine content, and even that Red Eye from your favorite cafe can vary from day to day. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t gather data and try to at least get a general idea of how many milligrams you are consuming daily.
Common known effects from taking caffeine include:
- Decreased drowsiness (which could lead to insomnia)
- Stimulation of the autonomic nervous system, which could speed heart rate and digestion
- Increased anxiety (the jitters)
As with many drugs, caffeine is also known to be addictive. That headache you get when you’ve missed your morning espresso? That’s withdrawal.
Fortunately, the physically stimulating effects of caffeine on your body only last about ten hours.
The severity of caffeine’s effects varies greatly from person to person. It’s best to learn how caffeine effects you personally, rather than try to find a simple number on a web site. This is why tracking your caffeine intake is an important part of your health monitoring.
Some fun and useful links regarding caffeine:
- 15(ish) things Worth Knowing About Coffee, by the Oatmeal
- Top 25+ caffeine Health Benefits
- Health benefits and risks associated with caffeine, from Michigan State University
- The latest scoop on the health benefits of coffee - the Harvard Health Blog
- Drink up: Health benefits of coffee are numerous - Harvard School of Public Health
- The Healthy Addiction? Coffee Study Finds More Health Benefits - Scientific American