Caffeine is consumed by most Americans every day whether in coffee, energy drinks, or even caffeinated soda. The benefits of caffeine to increase energy production and improve athletic performance are understood by most people, but some of the other benefits and the downsides and when they may occur are not understood as well. Caffeine is a natural stimulant present in many plants other than coffee beans, such as cocoa beans, kola nuts, tea leaves, and guarana berries, with coffee being the most commonly used source for caffeine.
Other than the boost in energy, brain function, and exercise performance from Coffee, there are many other studies that demonstrated benefits that may occur. Coffee has been shown to improve short-term memory and possibly long-term memory and could also help stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s as we age. Coffee drinkers also have less risk of developing Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, depression, and even heart disease. All of the studies with these results were correlational studies which mean they do not give a direct cause and effect relationship, and the amount of caffeine taken was usually not more than 400mg.
The biggest downside to caffeine is drinking too much, which is different depending on body weight and tolerance. With that said, 400mg of caffeine (about 4 8-oz cups of normal coffee) is usually regarded as a safe amount for the average person, and 300mg is regarded as a limit for pregnant women. It is when you start to get close to 1000mg that some serious problems can occur, and even 600mg can cause some problems, but not too severe. Most people do not get this much caffeine, but some energy drinks can have up to 300mg of caffeine, and a “venti” size coffee from Starbucks can have over 400mg of caffeine. So be aware of how much caffeine you are consuming. Caffeine at a moderate intake can also increase anxiety in those susceptible to it and it can keep you awake at night if drank too late. If you currently have diabetes caffeine can affect insulin which will increase or decrease blood sugar levels.
So, if you drink a moderate amount of caffeine every day, don’t fret about it, just be aware of how much you intake and how it makes you feel.