You find caffeine as a natural or added ingredient in products from beverages to snacks but very few of us ever ask what exactly is caffeine.
In a nutshell, caffeine is a stimulant that comes from certain nuts and plants.
Comedian David Letterman once said that “without coffee, I’d have no identifiable personality whatsoever.”
You too may feel that your day is just not complete without the little kick that caffeine seems to provide.
You might wonder if it is really necessary to give caffeine up at all, despite the reports warning of its dangers.
Let’s try to separate fact from fiction.
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What Is Caffeine?
The dictionary definition of caffeine lists it as a chemical with the scientific name of trimethylxanthine. Caffeine actually looks like a fine white dust.
Caffeine comes from a variety of plants, seeds, and nuts. It is categorized as a drug because of its effect on your brain and spinal cells.
What Foods Have the Most Caffeine?
In addition to the best-known sources such as coffee and tea beverages, you can also get caffeine from cocoa beans and guarana. Other products, such as energy supplements and carbonated sodas are not natural sources for caffeine. Instead, caffeine has been added by the manufacturer.
With caffeine, it is especially important to read the product labels and recognize all the names in their various forms. For example, you might see the words guarana or trimethylxanthine in a list of ingredients but not see the word caffeine. Realizing that these ingredients still contain caffeine is vital in calculating your daily intake.
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Are There Any Dangers From Too Much Caffeine?
According to information on WebMD, if you are basically healthy, it is safe to have 300 milligrams or less of caffeine every day with no adverse effects. There has also been some discussion about the effect of caffeine on children.
Research has demonstrated that caffeine is relatively harmless for children. However, only a parent should decide the issue for their individual child. In light of other concerns such as a young person’s increased need for nutrients to help them grow, and teaching them to make healthy food choices, it is wise to regulate caffeine intake by children.
How much caffeine you consume during the day depends on the actual food and drink in your diet, with some products having more caffeine than others. The typical range of caffeine content is between four and 200 milligrams per item.
Caffeine content fluctuates due to a variety of factors, such as whether the food has natural or added caffeine and the amount of it that you eat.
For example, a serving of chocolate cake has more caffeine than a chocolate brownie. Products that add caffeine are even more diverse because the manufacturer can add as much or as little caffeine as they see fit.
Just like no two people are alike, the effect of too much caffeine varies from person to person. Some of the more common side effects include an inability to sleep and stomachaches. Many people experience a condition referred to as “jitters,” which is an overall feeling of nervousness or unease.
What Are the Benefits of Caffeine?
Many of us depend on caffeine every day without knowing why. Preliminary studies have linked caffeine to better focus and more vigor. Caffeine also appears to have an effect on swelling, which could make it helpful for those who suffer from breathing or mobility problems.
You can’t deny caffeine’s benefits for collective bonding! Caffeine brings people together around the coffee pot at work, or at the coffee house or local diner for more community interaction.
For exercising, caffeine can be useful in providing an extra jolt to help enhance your progress. Caffeine affects you by temporarily speeding up the cells that make up your central nervous system.
In other words, caffeine invigorates your brain and spine so that you can improve on your thinking and activity levels. This is why many products designed to enhance your weightlifting sessions contain caffeine in addition to their main ingredients such as protein or nitric oxide.
If you visit a pharmacy, you will also notice that many medications for common illnesses like allergies and influenza use caffeine as an active component. This is because caffeine speeds up the effect of other medications.
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