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Caffeine Not Just for Coffee Anymore

Coffee and morning go together like two peas in a pod. No matter where you go, you can’t escape the smell of coffee brewing in the morning. Why is that? Because it helps to wake us up. The reason it wakes us up is its caffeine content.

According to Merriam Webster online, caffeine is defined as “a bitter alkaloid found especially in coffee, tea, cacao, and kola nuts and used medicinally as a stimulant and diuretic.” The average cup of coffee contains a range of 104-192 milligrams of caffeine.

Caffeine has its share of health benefits and health woes. It can improve memory and alertness, aid in digestion, assist in the treatment of asthma as well as other ailments and also aids in weight loss. On the flip side, caffeine has been studied for its part in Osteoporosis, birth defects, miscarriages, infertility, cancer, high blood pressure, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), ulcers and heartburn, breast and heart disease. The jury is still out on these studies, but here’s a definite—caffeine is a mild stimulant and can be somewhat addictive.

If you drink coffee or any caffeinated drink regularly and you try quitting cold turkey, you may experience a few days of withdrawal symptoms like headaches. In the extreme, you could also experience fatigue, depression, irritability, difficulty concentrating, flu-like symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, muscle pain, and stiffness. The good news is that most people can quit drinking coffee or other caffeinated drinks without checking into rehab.

Caffeine is found naturally in our favorite teas, coffees, and even slightly in decaffeinated coffee, however, it is often added to sodas, energy drinks, medications, diet pills and there are even some caffeinated waters. As with anything, moderation is the key. While one cup of soda or coffee may not have a detrimental effect, excessive use has been known to cause heart palpitations, anxiety and sleeplessness. And sometimes that excessive use comes unknowingly.

We know that coffee has caffeine and generally don’t allow children to have a cup in the morning, but children do drink soda and many parents may be unaware of the high caffeine content in some drinks. Mountain Dew, a soda I personally have seen in many coolers at picnics and barbeques, contains 55 milligrams of caffeine. If you wondered why your child was leaping over the picnic tables, maybe it wasn’t the sugar after all.

Iced tea made with orange pekoe (i.e. Lipton and others) or any caffeinated tea, another popular summer drink, can have between 9 and 50 milligrams of caffeine. But while you may drink one cup of coffee, you may drink many glasses of iced tea in a day. Caffeine, a natural diuretic, could cause dehydration—not a good mix on a hot summer day. Energy drinks have also become very popular over the last year. A can of Red Bull has 80 milligrams and Jolt has 71.

As with anything, awareness and moderation is key when it comes to caffeine. Its affect on your body is an individual matter and dependent upon your overall health condition. So please do consult with your health professional if you have any concerns about caffeine. Also, please check out the links below for more information.

Caffeine Nation: Diet Coke Addiction
http://www.abcnews.go.com/GMA/story?id=3447205&page=1

Caffeine in Beverages-American Beverage Association
http://www.ameribev.org/minisites/products/pdf/caffeine-levels.pdf

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Content copyright © 2013 by Gayle E. Santana. All rights reserved.
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