Caffeine: is it doing more harm than good?

Caffeine is the most sought after kick-starter that almost everyone uses without blinking. It can aid you in getting through some very strenuous situations but how much do we really know about the effects of this ‘wonder’ ingredient? Are there any major negative effects of taking too much caffeine?caffeine

Here’s a look at how caffeine works on our system to help you get a better idea.
Caffeine is a psychoactive drug, which means that it is a stimulant that keeps you awake and alert by blocking out the biochemical compounds that induce sleep and drowsiness. Caffeine not only blocks these compounds it also has reverse effect i.e. alertness. It also helps release a neurotransmitter called dopamine that produces an overall ‘feel good’ state of mind. These above features are what make consuming caffeine almost addictive.

But what is caffeine also doing in the process of giving you that energy boost?

  1. Caffeine can increase blood pressure in non-habitual consumers. High blood pressure is associated with an increase in strokes and heart disease
  2. Caffeine may reduce control of fine movements (e.g. producing shaky hands)
  3. Caffeine can contribute to increased insomnia
  4. Caffeine is addictive. Caffeine withdrawal can produce headache, fatigue and decreased alertness.
  5. High doses of caffeine (300 mg or higher) can cause anxiety.
  6. High caffeine consumption accelerates bone loss at the spine in elderly postmenopausal women.

The most prevalent effect of caffeine is the caffeine dependence. Although caffeine dependence is not as serious as addictions to other drugs, it does cause some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. If you stop taking caffeine abruptly, you may have symptoms for a day or more, especially if you consume two or more cups of coffee a day.

Symptoms of withdrawal from caffeine include:

  1. headache
  2. fatigue
  3. anxiety
  4. irritability
  5. depressed mood
  6. difficulty concentrating

Other Side Effects

  1. Frequent urination
  2. Accelerated heart rate
  3. Stomach upset
  4. Restlessness
  5. Muscle tremors

These above symptoms are exactly why caffeine should be consumed in moderation, due to habitual caffeine consumption the lack there of can ruin your entire day and dampen your activities. A lot of concerns have been raised over the large amounts of caffeine that is added to energy drinks which are widely consumed by children and adolescents; this can have unwanted effects on their body and make them dependent at a young age.

The benefits and drawbacks of caffeine have been long debated but the fact remains that high consumption of caffeine i.e. more than 400mg/day is not recommended. Always try to limit your caffeine use to not more than one cup a day. Caffeine per say is not bad for you but watching how much goes into your system is definitely important.

What do you think?

Written by Kirtana Ponnuswamy

Doctor by profession, ardent animal lover by choice; she finds writing to be therapeutic. She loves meeting new people, hopes to travel the world and has karaoking with Oprah on top of her bucket list. @kirtana_ponnuswamy

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